12/02/1996 at 01:00 AM EST
HE WAS A ROLLING STONE
In his autobiography, Blues All Around Me: The Autobiography of B.B. King (Avon), the 71-year-old guitarist and singer (born Riley B. King) describes growing up on a Mississippi plantation and picking cotton as a boy before teaching himself to play guitar. He also reveals that in his 40-plus-year career as an itinerant bluesman performing as many as 330 one-nighters a year, he sired 15 children by 15 different women, neither of his two wives among them. "I'm a simple man," says King, now divorced and living in Las Vegas. "But I've had a complicated love life."
How do your kids feel about the book?
I don't think all my children understand why I'm the father of 15 children. That's one of the reasons I wrote the book. At least now it's out in the open.
What's your relationship with them like?
They've all gone their separate ways. I've always told them, individually, that they're special, that they're my favorite. I was there for them and I tried to help them. That's no excuse for having the children, but if you do have them, it's your responsibility to take care of them. That's why I'm still working.
How do you cope with the blues?
A lot of times when one of these things are suffering me somewhat, I get the guitar and play a few notes on it. I usually wind up playing for quite a while because it sort of helps to soothe my mind. Some people smoke and drink, but just holding the guitar and strumming a few notes seems to do it for me.