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Notes from near and far on death of blues legend B.B. King

In this Aug. 27, 2008 photo, blues legend B.B. King poses during an interview in Los Angeles. King, whose scorching guitar licks and heartfelt vocals made him the idol of generations of musicians and fans while earning him the nickname King of the Blues, died late Thursday, May 14, 2015, at home in Las Vegas. He was 89. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Blues legend B.B. King died late Thursday at his Las Vegas home. Here are some comments from people who knew and admired him:

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“The blues has lost its king, and America has lost a legend. B.B. King was born a sharecropper’s son in Mississippi, came of age in Memphis, Tennessee, and became the ambassador who brought his all-American music to his country and the world. No one worked harder than B.B. No one inspired more up-and-coming artists. No one did more to spread the gospel of the blues. He gets stuck in your head, he gets you moving, he gets you doing the things you probably shouldn’t do — but will always be glad you did.” — President Barack Obama

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“I wanted to thank him for all the inspiration and encouragement he gave me as a player over the years and for the friendship that we enjoyed. There’s not a lot left to say because this music is almost a thing of the past now, and there are not many left to play it in the pure way that BB did. He was a beacon for all of us who love this kind of music, and I thank him from the bottom of my heart.” — Eric Clapton, in a video posted on Facebook

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“B.B. King bent the strings on a guitar like no one else, and we all owe him something now. Every guitar player that’s not known and well-known is playing something that man created on a guitar.” — Buddy Guy

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“My dad grew up with a broken heart. He had a rough childhood. He left here with a broken heart. He didn’t have his loved ones with him. God has given him wings. He’s there with family now: Riletta, Leonard, Gloria and Big Barbara.” — Rita Washington, 13th of King’s 15 children

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“As we pain, we must celebrate that his music, his style of playing and singing will last forever, from the recordings that he has done and the influence that he has had and will have on guitarists all over this planet. Long live the spirit of B.B. King.” — Stevie Wonder

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“So sad to hear of BB King’s passing, he was someone we all looked up to.” — Mick Jagger, via official Twitter account

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“The passing of BB King is a great loss for me and everyone who loves music. At least we have his recordings. Farewell BB.” — Keith Richards

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“He meant so much to music, not just one genre in particular, just to music. And it’s good to see so many different entertainers showing their love through their social media and what he meant to music …” recording artist Ludacris

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“Mississippi is known the world over as the birthplace of America’s music, and BB King is one of its founding legends and one of our state’s most treasured gifts to the music world. For decades, our souls have been stirred by his talents. From juke joints to concert halls, there is no place his influence hasn’t reached. Mississippi has lost a legend. He is the king. The thrill is gone.” — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant

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“The fact that Beale Street Blues Boy is the origin of Riley King’s nickname is the type of authentic connection that will never die. We have our own Memphis Music Hall of Fame because this city has been foundational in the careers of icons like Elvis Presley, Al Green, Johnny Cash and Isaac Hayes, to name a few. It is altogether fitting that we will mark the life of B. B. King on Beale Street this weekend.” — Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.

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“There are reasons why he’s been so loved and revered all these many decades: It’s as much the dignity and heart he brought to his life as it was his astonishing gifts as an artist. That and the fact that he was always true to why we loved him in the first place.” — Bonnie Raitt

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“He united multiple generations with a love for the blues, and I will always recall the joy he would bring to audiences and fellow musicians alike when they were lucky enough to be in his presence. When he said, ‘I’ll play the Blues for You,’ he meant it.” — Longtime Grammys Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich

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“He was a source of pride for the Mississippi Delta and its greatest ambassador across the world.” — Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, whose congressional district includes the Mississippi Delta, where King was born

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“He was a brilliant blues guitarist and a kind, good man. I will always be grateful that twice I had the chance to play with him, and that he received the Kennedy Center Honor when I was president. While an American legend has gone to his greater reward, the thrill of his gifts to us will never be gone.” — Joint statement from former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

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“His fusion of jump, jazz and blues styles became the template for blues and rock guitarists the world over. Without BB, there would be no Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, and without Jimi and Eric, no heavy rock — but we shouldn’t hold that against him! A true great.” — Producer Joe Boyd, who worked with Pink Floyd, Fairport Convention and many others

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“The world has physically lost not only one of the greatest musical people ever but one of the greatest people ever. Enjoy your eternity.” — Smokey Robinson

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“It’s difficult to fathom a world without B.B. King.” — ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons

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