Blues legend B.B. King had 15 children by 15 women – and now his kids are going to war over his estate, which could be worth up to $40million
- While alive, King recognized all of the kids and helped fund them
- He died at 89 last year, leaving manager LaVerne Toney as estate trustee
- Now some of his kids – fathered while he was on tour – are suing her
- They say she took control of his cash when he was mentally incompetent
- But other children are taking Toney’s side in the case
- The kids say he had $30-40million, but Toney says his estate is $5million
- She was also accused of murdering him by two of his daughters
- But police said there was no evidence and the case was thrown out
The children that blues legend B.B. King managed to father during 71 years on the road are now going to war in court over his estate, which is worth millions of dollars.
Despite having such a low sperm count that doctors said he’d never be able to conceive, King – famous for songs like ‘Sweet Sixteen’ and ‘The Thrill is Gone’ – fathered and provided for 15 children during his 71 years as a professional musician.
But after his death at age 89 last year from Alzheimer’s Disease and heart failure, many of King’s 11 surviving kids say the money has dried up and they’re going to court to get it back, The Hollywood reporter said.
Pioneer: King (pictured left in the 1950s and right in 2014) fathered 15 children with 15 women but never denied their paternity claims and gave them money for education as well as staying in touch with them
Trust: Ailing in 2011, King gave his manager of 40 years, LaVerne Toney (pictured) power of attorney, and in 2014 rewrote his 2007 will to make her his estate trustee. She is now a target for his kids’ multiple lawsuits
Riches: King (pictured with President Obama in 2010) had an estate worth millions. Some of his kids say Toney manipulated him to get control of his money. They want the 2007 will recognized, not its 2014 replacement
They are now divided into multiple groups, around four of which are suing King’s longtime business-manager LaVerne Toney, who now controls his estate, while others support her claim.
Toney claims that King had just $5million when he died – the result of making his career as a black man during a time of racial segregation and exploitation – but his kids believe the estate should be worth $30-40million.
King had always stood by the 15 children who came forward to say he was their father. As well as never disputing their paternity claims, he paid for their education, stayed in touch with them and even – when necessary – visited some of them in jail.
He also advised them to stick together, and was pained by the bickering that emerged between them, according to his grandson, Christopher King.
‘It upset him sometimes,’ Christopher told The Hollywood Reporter. ‘He would say: “It’s family, son, period. We gotta take care of the family.”‘
But now some of that family have decided to take care of themselves, as various groups try to get the money they believe is theirs.
‘My dad told us, “Even when I’m gone, I’m gonna take care of you,”‘ Riley B. King, 67, one of the singer’s sons, told The Hollywood Reporter, ‘but we haven’t received a dime since he died.
‘We got a lawyer, and we are trying to fight and get what belongs to us.’
Toney says she’s following King’s 2014 will, which names his children but doesn’t provide specific amounts of money for them. Those who oppose her prefer his 2007 will, which gives generous allowances to some – but not all – of his offspring.
They argue that King, who was blind and suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease in 2014, was in no fit state to put his name to the will.
Some also allege that Toney, who had received power of attorney and control over King’s business affairs in 2011, manipulated him to get control of his estate.
‘LaVerne got everything,’ claimed Riley. ‘She stole everything.’
‘Controlling’: King’s eldest daughter, Shirley King (pictured, at her father’s funeral) claims that LaVerne and King’s former personal assistant Myron Johnson are ‘controlling everything’
Daughters: Claudette Robinson King (left), Patty King (center) and Rita Washington (right) are just three of the daughters that King had during his younger years
Lawsuit: King’s daughters Karen Williams (center, touching window of hearse) and Patty King (right) tried to sue LaVerne and Johnson after their father died, saying they had ‘poisoned’ him
King’s eldest daughter, Shirley, was also upset: ‘LaVerne and Myron (Johnson, King’s former personal assistant), are controlling everything. They’re fighting some of the kids with my dad’s money – how stupid is that?’
Riley King explained that the feud has ‘split the family’ – something King had fought hard to avoid in his lifetime – as at least four factions have filed suits against Toney, while others have taken her side.
Those groups opposing Toney are still ‘working together to put as much paperwork on LaVerne as they can,’ he said.
They were described as ‘the Las Vegas crew’ by son James King, who said that a separate group of siblings – ‘the LA crew’ – support Toney.
This isn’t the first time that Toney has come under fire from King’s offspring.
On May 7, 2015, exactly a week before the musician passed away, Karen Williams – one of King’s daughters – took Toney to court in Las Vegas, wanting to replace the manager with herself as his legal guardian.
She claimed that Toney and Johnson – the latter of whom was Williams’s half-brother, but not one of King’s sons – had neglected King medically and siphoned off money for their own use.
The court rejected the claim after the Las Vegas PD concluded there was no wrongdoing, Toney produced King’s doctor and dentist as character references, and Johnson gave sworn testimony that his half-sister had, according to court documents, ‘manipulated Mr. King into giving her money’.
Johnson’s lawyer also claimed to have found publicly available documents that proved Williams was not in fact King’s daughter.
Lost: The case was dismissed due to lack of evidence. Williams (right), who is also Myron Johnson’s half-sister, had previously accused Toney and Johnson of mistreating and stealing from King in his later years
Assistant: That case was also thrown out of court. Johnson (pictured), is no relation to King, despite being Williams’s half-brother
King died on May 14, and just over a month later Toney faced further accusations from Karen Williams, this time backed up Patty King, another of the singer’s daughters.
The suit was dismissed when police – who ordered a toxicology report on King’s body – again found nothing to back up the claims, and Johnson counter-sued for defamation. That case is still ongoing.
King’s career began as a teenager in 1943, when he left the Mississippi plantation he worked on to become a radio musician.
Over the next 71 years, he made his name as a relentlessly hardworking blues pioneer, inspiring the likes of Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and many more famous names.
His success in music was matched by his generosity as a father, recognizing and supporting children who emerged from his trysts on the road. Sadly, the lawsuits that emerged as a result have cast a pall on that memory.
‘Every time my dad got more famous, I found out about a new sister,’ Shirley told The Hollywood Reporter. ‘I was happy at first, and then nobody gets along, and I stopped being happy.’
She added: ‘Maybe if there wasn’t so many kids from so many different parents, it would have been different. But all of a sudden my dad was just a bank.’
Legacy: King (pictured here in 1982) had always hoped his children would stick together as family – but the battle over his wills has pulled many of them apart
Source: Daily Mail