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B.B. King
(1925- )

B. B. King (born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925) is an American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter. Widely considered one of the greatest and most respected blues guitarists of all time, and is possibly the most recognizable name in the blues genre.

B. B. King is a licensed pilot, a known gambler, a vegetarian, non-drinker, and non-smoker. King has lived with Type II Diabetes for over twenty years and is a visible spokesman in the fight against the disease, appearing in advertisements for diabetes-management products.

bluesaccess.com (1999)

"I’m getting older now, so I’m cutting down a bit," B.B. says. "I’m getting to the place where I just can’t handle it like I used to, physically."

Of course, everything is relative. For a plow horse like King, cutting back means trimming down from the nearly 300 dates he usually performs to the 225 he played in 1998.

He’s also trimmed down physically, dropping 40 pounds from his robust frame. "I don’t eat sweets, no sugar," he says. "I don’t smoke, haven’t since I was 25 [ie 1950], and don’t drink: I had a small bit of cognac for Christmas, hardly a thimblefull. I’ve hardly had a drink of any kind for five or six years or more. I’m also a vegetarian, so I don’t have any real bad problems." With a shrug and a smile, he adds: "I don’t do everything I should do — it wouldn’t be no fun to live!"

from lifescan.com (apparently a re-write of the one above, a year later):

King has refused to let diabetes slow him down and as a result takes his health very seriously. “I don’t eat sweets, no sugar,” he says. “I don’t smoke…I’m also a vegetarian, so I don’t have any real bad problems.” With a shrug and a smile, he adds: “I guess I don’t do everything I should—it wouldn’t be any fun to live! But I’m getting older now, so I’m cutting back a bit.” Of course, for a dynamo like King, “cutting back” means trimming down the nearly 300 dates he usually performs to the 200 he played in 2000!

from The B.B. King Chat 25-04-2000/ 2pm-3pm PDT

I try to live pretty well, healthwise. I'm a vegetarian, I try to eat foods that are pretty good for me, and I don't smoke, and I only drink about once a year, at Christmas and New Year's.

A similar report appeared in 2003

In 'B.B. King, The Authorized Biography' by Charles Sawyer, 1980, the author describes being on tour with King, then aged 53, in 1978, and it is very clear that he was not vegetarian at that time. Apparently his diabetes dates from the early 1980s, it is not clear when or why he became vegetarian.

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