The veteran star was hospitalised with a diabetes-related illness last month (Apr15) and his lawyer, Brent Bryson confirmed that he passed away in his sleep at his Las Vegas home on Thursday (14May15).

Born Riley B. King, he was raised by his maternal grandmother, Elnora Farr, in Kilmichael, Mississippi from a young age after his parents split when he was just five years old.

He discovered his passion for music after joining the local gospel choir and purchased his first guitar at the age of 12, before he was taken under the wing of blues guitarist 'Bukka' White, a cousin of his mother's.

King landed his initial break on Arkansas radio as a singer and DJ, using the moniker Beale Street Blues Boy, which was later shortened to just Blues Boy, and then B.B.

He signed his first recording contract with Los Angeles' RPM Records in 1949 and scored hits such as 3 O'Clock Blues, Woke Up This Morning, Every Day I Have the Blues, Sweet Little Angel and Sneakin' Around throughout the 1950s.

His career success continued over the years, winning a Grammy Award in 1970 for The Thrill Is Gone.

King was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and recognised by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seven years later (87).

His other accolades include the prestigious Polar Music Prize in 2004 "in recognition of exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music", and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008.

The musician embarked on a farewell tour in 2006, but continued to perform regularly into old age, racking up more than 15,000 gigs over his lengthy career.