The guitarist, who enjoyed hits with The Yardbirds and Cream before embarking on a successful solo career, posted a video tribute on Facebook to the man he called a “dear friend”.
He said: “I want to thank him for all the inspiration and encouragement he gave me as a player over the years and the friendship we enjoyed.”
King’s lawyer Brent Bryson said the musician, who suffered from diabetes, died peacefully in his sleep on May 14 at his home in Las Vegas, where he had been receiving hospice care.
His style was an inspiration to scores of musicians and he mentored stars including Clapton, as well as collaborating with U2 on the 1989 track ‘When Love Comes To Town’.
King played in Ireland on several occasions, including two gigs at the Neptune Stadium in Cork in the 1980s.
Eric Clapton has paid tribute to legendary blues musician BB King, who has died aged 89.
Ringo Starr tweeted: “God bless BB King, peace and love to his family, Ringo and Barbara.”
Rapper Snoop Dogg posted a photo of King holding his trademark Gibson guitar, which he named Lucille, on his Instagram page.
Actor Hugh Laurie, who himself released blues albums in 2011 and 2013, tweeted: “Oh God. BB King. Let the sad times roll.”
Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora wrote: “My friend and legend BB King passed. I’m so so sad. He was so great to me. We’ve lost the King.”
Although he continued to perform well into his 80s, the 15-time Grammy winner had been in declining health in the past year. He collapsed at a concert in Chicago last October, later blaming dehydration and exhaustion. He had been in hospice care at his Las Vegas home.
During a career spanning nearly 70 years, Riley B King recorded more than 50 albums and toured the world, often performing 250 or more concerts a year.
A preacher uncle taught him to play, and he honed his technique in abject poverty in the Mississippi Delta, the birthplace of the blues.
King began picking cotton on tenant farms around Indianola, Mississippi, before he was a teenager, and he was still working off sharecropping debts after he got out of the army during the Second World War.
“He goes back far enough to remember the sound of field hollers and the cornerstone blues figures, like Charley Patton and Robert Johnson,” ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons once told Rolling Stone magazine.