Little more than a week has passed since the iconic king of blues, B.B. King, died in his sleep at his home in Las Vegas at the age of 89 and tensions have already sparked between his management and some of his surviving family members.
Five of his adult children have stepped forward, claiming that King’s longtime business agent, LaVerne Toney, barred them from seeing their father for a week after he passed away May 14.
Daughter Karen Williams, Patty King, Rita Washington and Barbara King, along with son Willie King, told The Associated Press that their father didn’t seem to look like himself when they finally got to see him in private on Thursday.
The group got to say their final goodbyes at the Las Vegas funeral home that will also host a public viewing Friday before a memorial service takes place Saturday.
In addition to allegedly not being allowed to see their father for a week after he passed, the group also said they were not allowed to take photos of him in his casket.
According to Toney, however, she insists she has done no wrong.
While the family is pointing fingers at Toney, she says the group of five are actually the ones with questionable intentions.
“They want to do what they want to do, which is take over, I guess,” Toney told The Associated Press. “But that wasn’t Mr. King’s wishes. Mr. King would be appalled.”
Toney worked for King for nearly 40 years has now retained power of attorney over his affairs and estate.
Williams and Patty King are challenging that power in court, but it doesn’t seem likely that the courts will be in their favor.
King’s will, dated Jan. 18 2007, made it a point to appoint Toney as the sole executor of his affairs after his death.
The next in line would have been one of King’s daughters, Riletta Williams, but she passed away last September.
Toney also made it clear that she was not making a particular effort to ban King’s family from seeing him.
She made the decision to ban all media from the public viewing and will have the viewing staffed with security to ensure nobody takes any pictures.
Either way, it paints an unfortunate circumstance where King’s family is now engulfed in legalities as they also try to navigate the loss of a loved one.
But not all family members have decided to challenge Toney or get involved in the dispute.
King’s oldest daughter, Shirley King, wants to focus on commemorating her father’s presence in blues with a free musical tribute event on the same day of the public viewing.
“I don’t want to be a part of the argument over his life,” she said, according to the NY Daily News. “I don’t want to fight with the family. I don’t want to fight with management.”
In the end, she hopes the dust will eventually settle and allow the family to focus on King’s legacy and impact.
“When everybody gets through being sad about him leaving, I want them to come out and let the good times roll and be happy about his life,” she added.