A family feud about B.B. King's health and wealth spilled into a Las Vegas courtroom Thursday, with one of the blues legend's daughters seeking to wrest control of his affairs from the musician's longtime business manager.
While the 89-year-old King is in home hospice care, daughter Karen Williams and a legal adviser are challenging King's business manager, Laverne Toney, for power-of-attorney.
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They said in an April 29 petition seeking appointment as temporary co-guardians that more than $5 million in assets is at stake.
Williams and legal adviser Frederick Waid allege Toney has blocked friends — including musicians Willie Nelson, Buddy Guy, Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton — from visiting King. They also say Toney put her family members on the King payroll, and that large sums of money have disappeared from King's bank accounts
"The family has been unable to account for what is reported to be in excess of $1 million," the court document says.
Toney and her lawyer planned to tell a Clark County Family Court guardianship commissioner that Toney has managed King's affairs for 40 years, and the musician is being cared for as he requested.
King was hospitalized a week ago after police were called to his home in a dispute about his condition between Toney and another of King's daughters, Patty King. No arrests were made.
King returned home Friday.
King, born Riley B. King in the Mississippi farm town of Itta Bena, toured and performed almost continually until October, when he canceled the remaining shows in his 2014 tour after falling ill in Chicago with dehydration and exhaustion.
King is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and a 15-time Grammy winner. He has released more than 50 albums and sold millions of records worldwide. He is considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
His guitar, famously named Lucille, has soared and wailed in songs ranging from "Every Day I Have the Blues" to "The Thrill is Gone."
King was married several times and had 15 biological and adoptive children. Four children have died.
His eldest surviving daughter, Shirley King, who tours as "Daughter of the Blues," said the dispute between family members and Toney has been months in the making.
"I'm not too sure things are right. But my dad would never want this," Shirley King said by telephone before traveling from her Chicago-area home to Las Vegas for Thursday's hearing.
Las Vegas police were called to King's home in November on allegations of elder neglect and abuse. Officer Jesse Roybal said this week that case remained open, and no details were available.
"I'm crying about what people are doing," Shirley King said. "I'm afraid it might get ugly. This is disrespect to him."