It’s a battle that would surely have B.B. King singing the blues.
Family members of the recently deceased blues guitar legend continue to spar over control of his estate—and now, they’re alleging King was the victim of foul play.
In affidavits filed shortly after his death on May 14 at age 89, daughters Patty King and Karen Williams convey their medically unsubstantiated suspicions that their father was poisoned.
In the identically worded affidavits, they claim: “I believe my father was poisoned and that he was administered foreign substances to induce his premature death. I believe my father was murdered.”
A preliminary autopsy conducted by the Clark County Coroner’s Office showed no sign of homicide. King suffered from the effects of aging and Type-2 diabetes, officials said.
The results of a full autopsy will take several weeks, but the daughters’ accusations won’t prevent King’s burial, which scheduled for Saturday in Indianola, Mississippi.
They’ve previously accused the bluesman’s longtime business manager LaVerne Toney and personal assistant Myron Johnson of neglect. Earlier this year, a Las Vegas judge dismissed a family lawsuit accusing Toney and Johnson of elder abuse.
Toney’s attorney Eric Brent Bryson calls the allegations beyond ridiculous and more than suspiciously timed.
“It’s about nothing more than a money grab, and it’s about people trying to get some attention on the coattails of a worldwide icon,” Bryson said on Tuesday. He pointed out that King’s children will only inherit $5,000 and his grandchildren $3,000.
Bryson said that, “B.B. had great care by his caretakers.” He added that certified nursing assistants were with King around the clock and then reeled off the names of three independent physicians who examined King during hospice care.
For her part, Toney has held King’s power of attorney since 2007. She worked for him 39 years and her husband, James Toney, was the longtime keyboard player in King’s band.
“He could have made any of his kids power of attorney and executor and trusted,” Bryson added. “My understanding is, he obviously didn’t trust them to the same extent he trusted Miss Toney. This is a time where we should be honoring Mr. King for all of his contributions as a music icon. Instead, we’re forced to focus on some monetary issues that really could be disposed of after the burial. It’s just disturbing to me to see family members come and attempt these kinds of proceedings at this time.”
The thrill may be gone, but the estate remains.
John L. Smith is a Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist.