Blues legend B B King rushed to hospital, condition said to be 'much better'

Blues legend B B King was rushed to hospital over the weekend, according to the TMZ.

The website reported that the 89-year-old superstar suffers from diabetes and that the emergency that put him in hospital was related to the disease, and that he is still being treated in a hospital in Las Vegas, where he lives.

The site also notes that King's hospitalisation "was the result of dehydration from his Type II diabetes … a condition he's lived with for more than two decades".

The legendary blues guitarist's daughter, Claudette, told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that he is doing "much better" and confirmed earlier reports that he was suffering from dehydration.

In October last year, King, known for his laid-back guitar playing and haunting voice on such songs as The Thrill is Gone, had to cancel shows at Chicago's House of Blues after he became ill.

At the time, his doctors diagnosed him with dehydration and suffering from exhaustion, and recommended he cancel the remaining shows for the year.

About a year ago, King apologised for a concert in St Louis that took an erratic turn after the bluesman started rambling onstage and did not perform a song for more than 45 minutes. That incident, too, was attributed to his diabetes. In this case, his representative said that he had missed his prescribed medicine that day.

King's career dates back to 1949, when he released his first single.

Considered one of the most influential guitarists of all time, he "introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that would influence virtually every electric blues guitarist that followed" according to Edward M. Komara, author of Encyclopedia of the Blues.

As noted by this reporter in a review for The New Paper after a 1992 concert in Singapore: "It is a measure of B B King's stature as a living legend of modern music that he got his first standing ovation last night - just for walking out on stage...

"But the surprisingly spontaneous roar gave way to a kind of collective gasp when BB started to stroke Lucille (his guitar).

"Rather than rest on his laurels at age 67, King spent the next two hours showing why his playing is worshipped by guitar gods like Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Slash.

"BB is master of the perpendicular-to-the-neck vibrato. That means he rapidly rolls the balls of his fingers back and forth over the strings on the fret. The technique gives his guitar its quavering - and distinctly feminine - voice."

In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked King sixth on its list of the greatest guitarists of all time

In 1987 King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which is inducting another group of rock stars and legends including Green Day and Ringo Starr on April 18 a its site here in Cleveland, Ohio.

Over the years, King has recorded with and influenced rock icons like Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones and U2. He last released an album in 2008, One Kind Favor, which was produced by T. Bone Burnett.

zach@sph.com.sg