Iconic blues musician Bb King is to have the highest honour possible for a civilian bestowed upon him by George Bush.

The 81-year-old will be given the presidential medal of freedom at a ceremony at the White House next week.

Upon hearing of the honour, King said: "It's been a long journey, but I've enjoyed every minute of it, bringing the blues to so many enthusiastic audiences."

The president meanwhile added: "For more than half a century, the king of the blues and his guitar Lucille have thrilled audiences."

But despite beginning his career in 1947, the musician has no plans to retire just yet, with a 60th anniversary tour due to kick off next month. He also recently played his 10,000th gig at his eponymous New York club.

Also in line to receive the medal of freedom are John Buck O'Neil, the grandson of a slave who became professional baseball's first black coach, and British journalist and historian Paul Johnson.

08/12/2006 15:22:23