A black granite slab now marks the grave site of B.B. King, the blues icon who died nearly seven months ago in Las Vegas but was returned for burial in his beloved native Mississippi as he wished.

More than 100 people gathered to dedicate the stone that eventually will become the centerpiece of a memorial garden outside the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center.

King was buried May 30 outside the museum in Indianola, the Delta cotton country town where he first sang and played guitar as a young man.

For months, the grave site was adorned with just a wreath and a chain-link fence. Architectural drawings for the memorial garden show benches and song titles engraved on metal panels. It will be part of a $4.5 million expansion of the museum.

“Some folks might argue that the blues is the greatest export from Mississippi … and the greatest purveyor of that music was B.B. King,” state Sen. John Horhn said during the dedication ceremony.

One of King’s top hits, “The Thrill Is Gone,” played from loudspeakers as a black cloth was pulled back to reveal the ledger engraved with his birth name, Riley B. King, and his signature. Also engraved in gold on the stone are lyrics from “Take It Home,” a song on a 1979 album with the same name: “Don’t know why / I was made to wander / I’ve seen the light, Lord / I’ve felt the thunder. / Someday I’ll go home again / And I know they’ll take me in. / And take it home.”

Associated Press