MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Our hearts are heavy here at WMC Action News 5 as the Queen of Beale Street Ruby Wilson has passed away. She has been in a coma for several days at Methodist South Hospital, but her manager confirmed Friday that she died at the age of 68.
As we look back at her life and legacy, it's not hard to see she is a true Memphis legend. Her iconic sound and voice are unmistakable and leaves a mark.
Whether it was on Beale Street or on the big screen, no one could bring to life to the blues better than Ruby Wilson. She put that distinct, strong and unforgettable sound behind any song.
Ruby Wilson was born in Texas, began her singing career at 16, and moved to Memphis, thrilling audiences for decades. She cranked out album after album, played soulful and mind blowing concerts from the White House to a Switzerland jazz clubhouse on the Vegas Strip and everywhere in between.
However, it was here in Memphis where she felt at home with the people, the food and the music. In 2009, Ruby suffered a stroke that according to the Memphis Blue Society left her unable to speak for four months. It took incredible strength for her to come back and recover. She picked up where she left off singing for crowds everywhere even during the holiday season on WMC Action News 5. She may be silent now, but her voice will always be vibrant and powerful, echoing through air on Beale Street, the Mid-South, and all over the world.
Ruby Wilson's official Facebook page released the following statement:
"She had a lovely voice. You couldn't beat it. I really enjoyed playing with her," musician Judge Booker said.
A memorial was set up at B.B. King's on Friday in honor of Wilson. Her friends could hardly believe she was gone.
"I was okay until, 'What a Difference a Day Makes' came on and I just lost it," Pat Kerr Tigrett said.
Wilson's manager said she suffered a heart failure Saturday and slipped into a coma.
"It's a huge personal loss. It's hard," Rollin Riggs said.
Tommy Peters said when he opened B.B. King's in 1991, he was losing money until Wilson took the stage.
"I always loved Ruby Wilson," Peters said. "If it wasn't for Ruby Wilson, we probably wouldn't have B.B. King's."
The club became a second home to Wilson, who sang all over the world.