The home of the blues plays tribute to B.B. King

Tony Coleman, drummer for the late blues legend B.B. King, singing King's signature song The Thrill Is Gone, during a musical tribute in Memphis, Tennessee, on May 27, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA 
Tony Coleman, drummer for the late blues legend B.B. King, singing King's signature song The Thrill Is Gone, during a musical tribute in Memphis, Tennessee, on May 27, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA 
Fans signing a wall with messages paying tribute to Blues legend B.B. King behind the B.B. King Blues Club in Memphis, Tennessee on May 27, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Fans signing a wall with messages paying tribute to Blues legend B.B. King behind the B.B. King Blues Club in Memphis, Tennessee on May 27, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Family members mourning behind the hearse carrying the remains of the late B.B. King during a procession down Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee on May 27, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Family members mourning behind the hearse carrying the remains of the late B.B. King during a procession down Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee on May 27, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Family members gathering behind the hearse carrying the remains of the late B.B. King during a procession down Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee on May 27, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Family members gathering behind the hearse carrying the remains of the late B.B. King during a procession down Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee on May 27, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Rodd Bland, son of Bobby "Blue" Bland, carrying the iconic Gibson guitar named "Lucille" belonging to the late B.B. King during a procession down Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee on May 27, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Rodd Bland, son of Bobby "Blue" Bland, carrying the iconic Gibson guitar named "Lucille" belonging to the late B.B. King during a procession down Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee on May 27, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A hearse carrying the remains of blues musician B.B. King drives on Beale Street during a processional on May 27, 2015 in Memphis, Tennessee. -- PHOTO: AFP
A hearse carrying the remains of blues musician B.B. King drives on Beale Street during a processional on May 27, 2015 in Memphis, Tennessee. -- PHOTO: AFP

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Reuters) - With music, singing and tears, hundreds of mourners in Memphis bade farewell to blues giant B.B. King as his casket, accompanied by his legendary guitar, Lucille, began a drive to his final resting place in Mississippi.

Intermittent thunderstorms dumped rain on mourners, including local dignitaries and King friends and family, as they gathered for the procession down Beale Street, a historic avenue lined with blues clubs and restaurants.

A brass band marched before the hearse, playing When the Saints Go Marching In, giving the procession the air of a lively Southern jazz funeral.

Mourners called out "B.B.," as the procession passed by. In front of the hearse, a weeping Rodd Bland, son of the late blues singer Bobby "Blue" Bland, carried the latest iteration of Lucille, King's famous Gibson guitar.

King died May 14 at age 89 at his home in Las Vegas. His remains were flown on Wednesday to Memphis, where he first achieved fame as a singer and disc jockey known as the Beale Street Blues Boy in the 1940s.

From Memphis, King's remains will be driven down U.S. Route 61 - often dubbed The Blues Highway - to his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi, for a public viewing on Friday and burial on Saturday.

"I had to be here today. It was gorgeous to see all these people out here to see the great man," said Sam Rowe, a 25-year-old law student from Melbourne, Australia, who has been doing an internship in Texas and was touring the blues trail from New Orleans and had just visited Indianola.

"B.B. King was laying heavy on my mind. I love blues music and I came along to pay respect to an incredible man."

Nevada officials are conducting a homicide investigation into King's death after two of his daughters claimed he was poisoned by longtime associates. An attorney for King's estate has called the allegations unfounded.