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B.B. King's Family Clashes with Manager Over Control of Legend's Affairs

By Ryan Book, The Music Times | May 08, 2015 09:00 AM EDT

B.B. King's continued health issues have opened the door to a more uncomfortable series of event's in the blues legend's life regarding his family's struggles with longtime manager Laverne Toney over control of the guitarist's care and property. Three of his children—Patty King, Rita Washington and Karen Williams—filed for control of their father's care, alleging elder abuse and theft on the part of Toney, although a Las Vegas court ruled that there was no proof of abuse to justify handing over control of his affairs (from The Hollywood Reporter).

Two separate investigations were carried out, stemming from one police call during 2014 and another during April. Neither led police to believe that King was being denied proper care for diabetes and other ailments. He has recently entered home hospice care. King's physician and lawyer corroborated that King was well cared for.

King's health concerns have perhaps encouraged the family to take a more commanding interest in the fate of his fortune however. They've argued that Toney has mismanaged his finances and that more than $1 million is unaccounted for. They suggest that the manager has appointed her own family members to staff positions as a way of taking more funds from King, and that up to $5 million is at stake. One concern is who will inherit King's catalogue as intellectual property.

Another allegation from the family is that Toney won't allow family members, or a bevy of King's famous guitar friends—Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Buddy Guy and Willie Nelson among them—from visiting. Toney reports these claims are untrue, and none of the celebrity musicians have given any reason to doubt her.

The judge in the case ruled that Williams and company would need to give King's other eight children legal notice of the case before the petition for control could be considered. Expect the guitarist's family to work quickly on that before bringing their case back to court.

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