Another King: Auto museum welcomes blues legend’s cars

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Though born 10 years apart, the King of Rock n’ Roll and the King of Blues had something in common other than being Mississippi-native musicians: They loved cars.
So what better place to have a reunion of sorts than at the Tupelo Automobile Museum.
On Thursday, officials with the B.B. King Blues Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola unveiled two cars owned by King.
The restored 1984 Chevy El Camino and the 1978 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost are on temporary loan to the auto museum.
Already on display is a Lincoln owned by Elvis Presley.
“I like to say we have what’s called a full house in poker,” said Auto Museum Curator Allen McDaniel. “We’ve got three Kings here – the King of Rock n’ Roll, Elvis; the King of Nascar, Richard Petty; and now the King of Blues, B.B. King. Then we have a pair of ‘Ts’ – a Toyopet and a Tucker.”
The Toyopet was Toyota’s first car it imported to the U.S. in 1957. The infamous Tucker is one of only 51 ever made.
As for B.B. King’s cars, the bluesman donated them to his namesake museum in Indianola. But there was no room.
“These automobiles were given to the B.B. King Blues Museum, but we didn’t have any space for them,” said Allan Hammons, who sits on the museum’s board of directors. “Thankfully, the Tupelo Automobile Museum came to our rescue.”
Hammons said he had several “fruitful” discussions with Jane Spain, the Auto Museum’s executive director.
King’s cars are on temporary loan on a renewable one-year lease, said McDaniel.
“We started the process last January,” said Dion Brown, executive director of the King Museum. “Once we got them, we had to figure out how to put them on display.”
The two-tone, brown and tan Rolls, still bearing the “BBK 1” Nevada tag on the front, was sent directly from Las Vegas to the Auto Museum.
The electric-blue El Camino is a restored model King bought in 1996. Hammons said museum officials prefer to call it “Mississippi Delta Blues blue.”
B.B. King’s tour bus also is on its way to Indianola, where it will be restored and taken on the road. Hammons said he plans to bring the bus to Tupelo as well, but it won’t be on display.
Officials didn’t say how long King’s El Camino and Rolls would be on display, but McDaniel said, “we have a one-year renewable deal.
“I’d love to keep them here permanently,” he said.
dennis.seid@journalinc.com