King Biscuit Blues Festival, one of the nation’s foremost showcases of blues music is held annually in October, where tens of thousands of blues enthusiasts converge on the banks of the Mississippi River in historic downtown Helena, Arkansas.
From the spirituals sung in the fields to gospel and blues to rockabilly, music is the lifeblood of the history and culture of the Natural State. A longtime hub for blues, historic river city Helena influenced a generation of musicians, ranging from B.B. King to Levon Helm. The town is home to “King Biscuit Time,” the legendary radio show that made Sonny Boy Williamson and Robert Lockwood, Jr. famous. First aired in 1941, the show is still on every weekday at noon, hosted by Sunshine Sonny Payne at Helena’s Delta Cultural Center.
In the 1950s clubs and venues along the route from Newport to Pocahontas played host to Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Sonny Burgess and Billy Lee Riley. Today the road’s musical importance is reflected in the Arkansas General Assembly designation of it as “Rock ‘n’ Roll Highway 67.”
Musical greats such as Glen Campbell, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Driftwood, Scott Joplin, Charlie Rich, William Warfield, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Al Green have all called Arkansas home. Museums, attractions and festivals throughout Arkansas pay homage to these and many other musical legends, include the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame in Pine Bluff, the Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View, and the Delta Cultural Center in Helena-West Helena,
In The Natural State, music is a simply an enormous part of our history and heritage.