May 22, 2015 12:11 PM
Long lines likely for Las Vegas public viewing of B.B. King
The Associated Press
LAS VEGAS (AP) Fans in Las Vegas are expected to line up for hours to view the body of blues legend B.B. King, and later to celebrate his legacy at a musical tribute organized by his daughter.
The viewing Friday begins a weeklong series of memorials for King, who died May 14 in Las Vegas at the age of 89. A musical tribute at a rock 'n' roll venue on the Las Vegas Strip is planned for Friday night, and a procession next Wednesday will mark the King of the Blues' return to Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, before a final road trip to Indianola, Mississippi, and burial May 30.
Five of B.B. King's adult children visited the blues great one last time on Thursday in private at a Las Vegas funeral home.
Family members and King's longtime business agent were embroiled in a spat over the care and estate before he died, and the fight is expected to continue.
Daughters Karen Williams and Patty King accused King's longtime business agent, LaVerne Toney, of keeping them from seeing their father for a week after he died and of preventing them from taking photos of him in his casket.
"A picture paints 1,000 words," Patty King said as she showed cellphone images of the same family group with their father at his birthday in September. "He loved his children."
The five family members refer to themselves as a family board. B.B. King is survived by eleven of his 15 children.
Toney, who worked for King for 39 years, has power-of-attorney over his affairs and estate despite several court challenges by Williams and Patty King.
Toney told The Associated Press she's doing what B.B. King said he wanted.
"They want to do what they want to do, which is take over, I guess," Toney said of the family group. "But that wasn't Mr. King's wishes. Mr. King would be appalled."
B.B. King's will, dated Jan. 18, 2007, and filed Wednesday under his birth name, Riley B. King, appoints Toney as sole executor of his affairs. Toney is banning the media and photographs of any kind during the public viewing from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Palm Mortuary on South Jones Boulevard, about three miles west of the Las Vegas Strip.
Funeral director Matt Phillips said viewers will be able to file past the open casket and security officials will prevent photos. The media won't be allowed inside.
King's eldest daughter, Shirley King has booked a Las Vegas Strip venue for what she said will be a free musical tribute event starting an hour after the public viewing ends.
"I don't want to be part of the argument over his life," said Shirley King, who lives in Chicago and performs as Daughter of the Blues.
She's planning for live music and remembrances at the Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas at the Linq promenade starting at 8 p.m. Friday.
"I don't want to fight with family. I don't want to fight with management," she said. "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."