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Barack Obama on B.B. King: 'That thrill will be with us forever'

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Steve Jennings/WireImage

In February of 2012, Barack Obama invited a host of musicians, including B.B. King, to the White House for a special event celebrating blues music. Following King’s death on Thursday at the age of 89, the president released a statement honoring the legendary blues musician. “B.B. may be gone, but that thrill will be with us forever,” Obama wrote. Read the full statement below.

“The blues has lost its king, and America has lost a legend. B.B. King was born a sharecropper’s son in Mississippi, came of age in Memphis, Tennessee, and became the ambassador who brought his all-American music to his country and the world. No one worked harder than B.B. No one inspired more up-and-coming artists. No one did more to spread the gospel of the blues.

Three years ago, Michelle and I hosted a blues concert at the White House. I hadn’t expected that I’d be talked into singing a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago” with B.B. by the end of the night, but that was the kind of effect his music had, and still does. He gets stuck in your head, he gets you moving, he gets you doing the things you probably shouldn’t do—but will be always be glad you did. B.B. may be gone, but that thrill will be with us forever. And there’s going to be one killer blues session in heaven tonight.” —President Obama

Watch King perform at the White House below: