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B.B. King Estate Fight Looms for Family Group, Longtime Aide

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In this May 7, 2015, file photo, LaVerne Toney, center, arrives in Clark County Family Court in Las Vegas. Less than two weeks after blues legend B.B. King was laid to rest near his birthplace in the Mississippi Delta, a battle over his estate is moving from the headlines to the courthouse in Las Vegas. Attorneys for King’s designated executor, Toney, have filed documents in Nevada state court to fend off allegations that King family members were kept away in his dying days, that he was mistreated medically and that his money was siphoned off before he died May 14 at his Las Vegas home at age 89. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

In this May 7, 2015, file photo, LaVerne Toney, center, arrives in Clark County Family Court in Las Vegas. Less than two weeks after blues legend B.B. King was laid to rest near his birthplace in the Mississippi Delta, a battle over his estate is moving from the headlines to the courthouse in Las Vegas. Attorneys for King’’s designated executor, Toney, have filed documents in Nevada state court to fend off allegations that King family members were kept away in his dying days, that he was mistreated medically and that his money was siphoned off before he died May 14 at his Las Vegas home at age 89. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

KEN RITTER, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Just days after blues legend B.B. King was laid to rest near his birthplace in the Mississippi Delta, a battle over his estate is moving from the headlines to the courthouse in Las Vegas.

Attorneys for King’s designated executor, LaVerne Toney, have filed documents in a Nevada court to fend off allegations that King family members were kept away in his dying days, that he was mistreated medically and that his money was siphoned off before he died May 14 at his Las Vegas home at age 89.

“We’re asking the probate commissioner to approve (Toney) as executor and personal representative of the estate,” attorney Brent Bryson said Monday.

“The spurious and unjustified allegations made against Ms. Toney by Patty King, Karen Williams and Larissa Drohobyczer will be dealt with at a later time,” he added.

Among King’s 11 surviving adult children, Williams and Patty King have been most outspoken about the music icon’s care in his final days. Through their attorney, Drohobyczer, they accused Toney and B.B. King’s personal assistant, Myron Johnson, of poisoning him to hasten his death.

Toney and Johnson denied the claims, and Bryson dismissed them as ridiculous, defamatory and libelous.

But the allegation prompted an autopsy by the Clark County coroner the day after a King memorial at a Las Vegas funeral chapel. Results of toxicology tests are expected in several weeks. Police said there was no active homicide investigation.

King was buried May 30 at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, Mississippi.

Toney, who managed King’s road show business for 39 years and had power-of-attorney over his personal affairs, is the executor named in his will. She declined on Monday to comment. A King daughter, Riletta Mitchell, was second in line, but she died last September

Bryson said Monday the value of King’s estate was being tallied, but wasn’t expected to amount to the tens of millions of dollars suggested during Williams’ failed court bid to wrest guardianship from Toney a month ago.

One court document filed April 29 said one King bank account was believed to have had $5 million in May 2014, and his home was valued at $330,000. It said family members were unable to obtain updated figures or determine the value of King’s road show business or the rights and royalties from his music.

Drohobyczer has said she represents at least five of King’s children who refer to themselves as a family board. She said Monday she’ll file papers this week challenging Toney as executor, and didn’t want to comment before documents are filed.

Three daughters — Williams and Patty King, both of North Las Vegas, and Barbara King Winfree of Houston — declined to comment Monday about the upcoming probate hearing.

They’ve said previously that they want Toney out of the picture.

“We are the King family,” Patty King said. “We are fighting for the King estate.”

Son Willie King of Chicago didn’t immediately respond to messages.

Daughter Rita Washington, the fifth family board member, denied the fight to remove Toney is about money. She accused Toney of misleading family members about King’s finances and blocking them from visiting when King was dying.

“Dad died by himself,” Washington said. “If it was his wish not to let us see him in that condition, she still could have allowed us to visit him.”

In documents filed late Friday, Bryson provided an affidavit from one granddaughter who visited King the day before he died, and sworn testimonials from three doctors saying King was properly cared-for before he died in his sleep.

“Mr. King was able to smile, eat, laugh and watch westerns on television up until the time he fell asleep on May 13, 2015,” the court document said. It noted he never awoke.

King’s personal physician, Dr. Darin Brimhall, said drops that King’s daughters said they saw being administered to King in recent months were atropine, a drug commonly administered to people in hospice care to prevent respiratory congestion and difficulty swallowing.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cars

Lions Hold Car Show in Corte Madera

The Corte Madera Lions Electric Vehicle and Classic Car Show was held last Sunday, September 12, at the Village shopping center’s overflow parking lot next to Nordstrom’s. 

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From top, left to right: Chloe Nolasco selling the 2021 Electra Meccanica Solo, 1968 Shelby GT, 1972 Citroen 2cv, 1957 Rolls Royce, 1967 Morgan, 1993 Dodge Viper. Bottom photo from left: 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C MKIII, 1959 Shelby Cobra, 1959 Chevy Corvette (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

The Corte Madera Lions Electric Vehicle and Classic Car Show was held last Sunday, September 12, at the Village shopping center’s overflow parking lot next to Nordstrom’s. 

The latest electric vehicles from Marin Luxury Cars — Mercedes, Mini, Ford, Electra Meccanica, and more than 75 pristine pre-1975 classic cars were featured at the show, including a fire truck and a farm tractor.

The event featured food from the The Pig in the Pickle, beer, wine, and live music from three local bands.

The Corte Madera Lions presented this community wide event. All proceeds will benefit local charities.

“The Marin Post’s coverage of local news in Marin County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.”

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Black History

Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie: First Black Grammy’ Winners

Two Black performers left the event that night with Grammys in hand: Ella Jane Fitzgerald (1917–1996) for Best Vocal Performance, Female, and Best Jazz Performance, Individual; and William James “Count” Basie (1904–1984), for Best Performance by a Dance Band and Best Jazz Performance, Group. Recognition for the pair was well overdue as their roads to the Grammy were storied.

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Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie, the first two African Americans to win Grammy awards, 1958. Photo courtesy of 9gag.com/gag/aQREN3K

It was the late spring of 1959. The music industry’s elite converged inside the Grand Ballroom of Los Angeles’ Beverly Hilton. Others were gathering at a function held simultaneously in New York City.

That night, the Grammy Award’s first show took place, and no one knew then that it would become a historic event for African-American performers.

Two Black performers left the event that night with Grammys in hand: Ella Jane Fitzgerald (1917–1996) for Best Vocal Performance, Female, and Best Jazz Performance, Individual; and William James “Count” Basie (1904–1984), for Best Performance by a Dance Band and Best Jazz Performance, Group. Recognition for the pair was well overdue as their roads to the Grammy were storied.

Fitzgerald was a teen when her mother died. Her aunt then took young Ella from her home in Yonkers, N.Y., back to Newport News, Va. Shortly after, Ella’s stepfather died. These events brought on depression. Ella began failing school and frequently skipped classes. After getting into trouble with the police, she was sent to a reform school. There she endured beatings by the caretakers. The brutality forced her to escape.

At age 15, she was alone and struggling to make a life for herself. But things would change when she was in New York City about five years later.

In 1934, young Ella performed at the Apollo’s Amateur Night. The crowd booed her; shouted “What’s she going to do?” A frightened Ella decided to sing. She asked the band to play Hoagy Carmichael’s “Judy,” one of her mother’s favorites. Her voice silenced the audience, and by the song’s end they begged for an encore.

Two years later, Ella made her first recording, “Love and Kisses,” under the Decca label. The rest was music history.
Later dubbed “The First Lady of Song,” Ella was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. On June 15, 1996, she died in her Beverly Hills home. She’d taken home 14 Grammys throughout her career.

Basie, born in Red Bank, N.J., was one of the all-time great jazz band leaders. Dubbed the “King of Swing,” his career started in clubs and speakeasies in Asbury Park and Long Branch, N.J., then New York City (1924) and later Kansas City (1927).

His music served as inspiration for artists including John Lewis, Thelonious Monk, and Oscar Peterson. Along the way, he faced discrimination but overcame barriers to become one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.

“Every day, we used to say, ‘Not one drop of my self-worth depends on your acceptance of me,’” musician and producer Quincy Jones said of the racism that he and Basie experienced back then. “It was horrible. It ain’t much better now.”

Basie wrote in a letter: “I can’t remember when I did not experience discrimination … And I didn’t let it bug me.”
The Count won nine Grammy awards over the course of his career. He died on April 26, 1984, in Hollywood, Fla.

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Community

Fillmore’s Great Jazz Era Featured in Book Talk, Concert at S.F. Botanical Gardens

Authors Elizabeth Pepin Silva and Lewis Watts will talk about their book, “Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era” at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park on Monday, September 20. 

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Sam Peoples Jr. in the Fillmore./ Photo Courtesy of Lewis Watts

Authors Elizabeth Pepin Silva and Lewis Watts will talk about their book, “Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era” at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park on Monday, September 20.  It will be followed by a mini-concert by the Sam Peoples Trio. The event, co-sponsored by the garden, Bayview Opera House, and the San Francisco African American Historical & Cultural Society will run from 4:00-5:00 p.m. It is part of the garden’s critically acclaimed “Flower Piano” program, where 12 grand pianos are placed around the garden and musicians are invited to come and play them. 

Sam, whose father was a highly regarded, Fillmore-based musician in San Francisco back in the heyday of Harlem of the West, will be performing music that celebrates the great jazz and cultural heritage of the Fillmore District in San Francisco which is described Silva and Watts book.  

The fourth edition of the book, released by Heyday Books in 2020, will also be on sale at the garden. For more information, go to: https://www.sfbg.org/flowerpiano

The San Francisco Post’s coverage of local news in San Francisco County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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