B.B. King insisted: “Every Day I Have the Blues.” But for a guy who had the blues every day, King, who died last week at 89, was remarkably laid back. Even though he toured endlessly. Even though he held a lifelong responsibility as a blues “ambassador.” Even though he was a philanthropist. Even though he was a diabetic. The stress, it seemed, just never got to him.
And when someone said they were going to have his baby, that was okay, too.
“If a woman I’ve been with says the child is mine, I don’t argue,” King wrote in his memoir, “Blues All Around Me.” “I assume responsibility. As I got older, that responsibility grew.”
The final tally: 15 biological and adoptive children — 11 of whom survived King — and, now that the King is gone, potentially a huge legal mess. Even as members of King’s family gathered in Las Vegas to say goodbye, there seemed to be blues all around them — in the form of past, present and probably future legal squabbles about his estate with his representatives.
“I don’t want to fight with family,” Shirley King, King’s eldest daughter who performs as “Daughter of the Blues,” said, as the Associated Press reported. “I don’t want to fight with management. … When everybody gets through being sad about him leaving, I want them to come out and let the good times roll and be happy about his life.”
“They want to do what they want to do, which is take over, I guess,” Toney said. “But that wasn’t Mr. King’s wishes. Mr. King would be appalled.”
Even as Toney sanctioned a public viewing — sans media and photos — for Friday ahead of a funeral Saturday, the squabbling continued. King’s family even had to gain approval for a final private visit in a probate court.
Toney has power-of-attorney over King’s estate. Even in the days before King’s death, three of his 11 surviving children went to court to take control of the dying bluesman’s affairs, including what they claimed to be $5 million in assets. In allegations that recalled the struggles of Casey Kasem and Mickey Rooney, they accused Toney of stealing King’s money, neglecting his health and preventing the family from seeing him.
A judge said their complaints were without merit.
“I don’t have anything here that says [King] lacks capacity,” Clark County Family Court Hearing Master Jon Norheim said. “He has some serious health issues. But he has counsel. If he feels like he’s being taken advantage of, he has remedies.”
“It’s all about money,” King’s attorney Brent Bryson said. “Mr. King is no longer out able to tour at this particular time so there’s no money coming in. The only way they can get money now is by filing a frivolous type of action.”
“We lost the battle, but we haven’t lost the war,” Karen Williams, one of King’s daughters, said after the family was denied power-of-attorney.
Shirley King, however, did not go to court and said she will be sitting out the legal battle. Instead, she has rented a Las Vegas venue on the Strip and will host what she said will be a free musical tribute to her father.
“I don’t want to be part of the argument over his life,” she said.