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Lawyer Says Allegations B.B. King Was Poisoned ‘Ridiculous’

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Patty King leaves a memorial service for her father B.B. King Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Las Vegas. Friends and family members gathered Saturday at a funeral home in Las Vegas to remember the Blues legend. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Patty King leaves a memorial service for her father B.B. King Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Las Vegas. Friends and family members gathered Saturday at a funeral home in Las Vegas to remember the Blues legend. (AP Photo/John Locher)

KEN RITTER, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Two B.B. King heirs who’ve been most outspoken about the blues legend’s care in his final days have accused King’s two closest aides of poisoning him, but the attorney for King’s estate called the claims ridiculous and police said there was no active homicide investigation.

Three doctors determined that King was appropriately cared-for, and King received 24-hour care and monitoring by medical professionals “up until the time that he peacefully passed away in his sleep,” attorney Brent Bryson told the AP on Monday.

Daughters Karen Williams and Patty King allege that family members were prevented from visiting while King’s business manager, LaVerne Toney, and his personal assistant, Myron Johnson, hastened their father’s death.

Toney is named in King’s will as executor of an estate that, according to court documents filed by lawyers for some of King’s heirs, could total tens of millions of dollars.

Johnson was at B.B. King’s bedside when he died May 14 in hospice care at home in Las Vegas at age 89. No family members were present.

“I believe my father was poisoned and that he was administered foreign substances,” Patty King and Williams say in identically worded sections of affidavits provided to The Associated Press by their lawyer, Larissa Drohobyczer.

“I believe my father was murdered,” they say.

An autopsy was performed Sunday. Test results will take up to eight weeks to obtain and shouldn’t be affected by the fact that King’s body had been embalmed, Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg said.

Fudenberg issued a statement Monday saying there was no immediate evidence supporting the murder allegations, and Las Vegas police Lt. Ray Steiber told the AP that there was no active homicide investigation.

Toney and Johnson each declined to comment on the accusations.

“They’ve been making allegations all along. What’s new?” said Toney, who worked for King for 39 years and had power-of-attorney over his affairs.

A week before King’s death, a judge in Las Vegas dismissed a request from Williams to take over as King’s guardian.

An April 29 petition alleged that Toney had blocked King’s friends from visiting him and had put her family members on King’s payroll. It also alleged that large sums of money had disappeared from King’s bank accounts.

But Clark County Family Court Hearing Master Jon Norheim said on May 7 that police and social services investigations in October and April uncovered no reason to take power-of-attorney from Toney.

Williams, Patty King and another daughter — Rita Washington — vowed to keep fighting.

“We lost the battle, but we haven’t lost the war,” Williams said then.

This week’s allegations come days after a public viewing in Las Vegas drew more than 1,000 fans and mourners and a weekend family-and-friends memorial drew 350. A Beale Street procession and memorial are scheduled Wednesday in Memphis, Tennessee, followed by a Friday viewing and Saturday burial in King’s hometown of Indianola, Mississippi.

Fudenberg said Monday that his office’s investigation shouldn’t delay those services.

Bryson said the allegations were “extremely disrespectful” to King.

“He did not want invasive medical procedures,” he said. “He made the decision to return home for hospice care instead of staying in a hospital. These unfounded allegations have caused Mr. King to undergo an autopsy, which is exactly what he didn’t want.”

Drohobyczer said she represents Williams, Patty King and most of King’s nine other adult children and heirs.

“The family is sticking together … to oust Ms. Toney based on her illegal conduct, conflicts of interest and self-dealing,” she said. She alleged that Toney hastened King’s death by “misconduct, or by failing to properly attend to his medical needs.”

An affidavit from Patty King, who used to live at King’s home, says she saw Johnson administer to King two drops of an unknown substance on his tongue during evenings for several months before his death, and that Toney never told her what the substance was.

Bryson called Drohobyczer’s claims ridiculous.

“I hope they have a factual basis that they can demonstrate for their defamatory and libelous allegations,” he said.

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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