Blues great B.B. King was laid to rest Saturday in his hometown of Indianola, Miss.
King died May 14 in Las Vegas, where he lived, at the age of 89. A private viewing and invitation-only memorial service was held there before his body was moved back to Mississippi, per the singer’s request.
The service was held at Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church, which is just off B.B. King Road. According to The Chicago Tribune, around 500 people were in the church for the service. Among them was his longtime personal assistant Myron Johnson, who told stories of his first meetings with King—when the musician told him he could call him whatever he wanted, so long as he didn’t call him “Pops”—to his last evening with the legend.
Barack Obama’s letter, calling King an inspiration to all up-and-coming artists, was read aloud by Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson. “There’s going to be one killer blues session in heaven tonight,” the president wrote. Thompson also read a letter from Bill Clinton, who presented King with his Kennedy Center honor in 1995. The Congressman was followed by Governor Phil Bryant, who honored King for being an ambassador of their state.
The mayor of Indianola proclaimed May 30 an official day of remembrance and honor for the deceased.
The service concluded as King was carried out to the choir singing.
According to The New York Times, an estimated 4,000 people came to the blues pioneer’s viewing Friday evening where the artist was laid out for people to pay their respects.