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BB King Still Going Strong

When bluesman B.B. King neared his 80th birthday, he figured he had accomplished everything he set out to do … well, almost everything. As VOA's Doug Levine tells us, birthday wishes sometimes do come true, especially if you're B.B. King.

B.B. King doesn't get around as well as he used to these days, but he still puts on a great show. And with the help of a dozen close friends, it gets even better. Listen to "The Thrill Is Gone," featuring guitarist Eric Clapton, and you'll hear a man who, at 80, sounds as thrilling as he did at 18.

For B.B. King there was no better way of celebrating the big 80 than by doing the one thing he's been doing since he was a teenager, playing guitar and singing the blues. Recording his first single in 1949, he was well on his way to becoming one of the world's best-loved entertainers.

Although he's known as the "Ambassador of the Blues," B.B. King's music is universal, as he proves with Van Morrison on "Early In The Morning" from his new album of duets.

At ease playing rock with Roger Daltrey, pop with Sheryl Crow, or R&B with Daryl Hall, B.B. King is in top blues form on "Funny How Time Slips Away," featuring former bandmate Bobby Bland.

Time may slip away, but B.B. King has made the most of his 60 years in show business. Music awards aside, King is an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Blues Foundation Hall of Fame. He's the owner of a national chain of nightclubs that bears his name. He has a signature line of Gibson guitars named after his own beloved guitar Lucille. And, he recently published his first illustrated book, The B.B. King Treasures.

B.B. King was recently honored at a birthday celebration and fundraiser for the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, scheduled to open in Indianola, Mississippi, in 2007. In the meantime, fans are enjoying his latest CD, B.B. King & Friends - 80.