B. B. Gets His Own Museum

EIGHTY-THREE-YEAR-OLD B. B. King figures that he traveled some 60,000 miles behind a mule in the Mississippi Delta before an appearance on a West Memphis radio program in 1948 caused his career as a blues musician to take off Indianola, Mississippi, the location of his last plantation job at a cotton gin, now honors the international star and multiple Grammy Awards winner with his own museum, the 20,000-square-foot B. B. King Museum and Interpretive Center.Read more »


A gracious antebellum city of stern-wheelers and cotton money; a restless, violent city with a hot grain of genius at its heart; a city of calamity, desolation, and rebirth; a city that changed the way the whole world hears music. It’s all the same city, and it is this year’s Great American Place. Thomas Childers answers a summons to Memphis, Tennessee.

Bales of cotton no longer accumulate along the riverbank, but a small fleet of stern-wheelers still serves the Memphis waterfront.

When the phone rang and I heard the familiar voice of an old family friend inviting me to visit him in his hometown of Memphis, I was intrigued.