BB King...for a newbie

Only seen him on TV, been dying to get a quality recording of his, ideally to hear some thoughts on some very high quality recordings of him (if they exist). Ideally I'd like to start with some live stuff. But if quality exists elsewhere I'm willing to start there.
Ah, yes, Riley B. King, once known as the Beale Street Blues Boy (hence, the "B.B." nickname of today), and cousin of Bukka White -- you do inquire about one of the really great blues men still with us.

I'm not sure what you mean by a "quality" recording -- whether you want something with great audio quality, or a great performance, or both. I'm not aware of any of B.B.'s albums that would be classified as "audiophile" quality, but there are a number of fine performances that were recorded. One of the best, for my money, is "Live at the Regal" from 1964. You may also want to check out two compilations of his "greatest hits":
1. His Definitive Greatest Hits, 1999, Ace Records;
2. The RPM Hits, 1951-1957, Ace Records.

Of his very recent works, I also like "Riding With The King" which was a duet album with Eric Clapton that won a Grammy in 2001.
Check to see if "Live at Cook County Jail" has been remastered. I do know his Brother Albert King has just had his "Live Wire Blues Power" released on 180 gram vinyl. Music Direct carries it.
The 'live at the Regal' is what most people think is his best, it is a goodie.
If you don't mind a little Clapton mixed in with your BB that 'Riding with the King' is a great disc, some of the best playing Clapton has done in years.
Second "Live at the Regal." Excellent recording and awesome performance. It comes in a recent remastered edition and an older Mobile Fidelity gold disc. I like the Mo-Fi for its slightly more natural sound, but the remaster is excellent as well (and A LOT cheaper).
Another vote for "Live at the Regal." There is a also a nice collection of Louis Jordan tunes that came out a few years ago, though I think it is only available on CD and sounds, well, very digital. My personal favorite is the early material (pre-1965) that features B.B.'s blistering guitar technique. Lots of B.B. material from all eras should be available, however, and it is ALL good.
I'd give 'Blues on the Bayou' a listen.

"I Don't Want Nobody Hanging Around My House When I'm Not at Home" and "The Thrill is Gone" are two of his signature tunes and my Favorites. Try to at least have these two in your collection in any form.
On the topic of must have cuts:

"Why I Sing the Blues"
I just picked up his new cd today. BB King and friends 80. I haven't had time to listen to the whole thing yet, but so far it's fantastic.
Electric BB King is a nice album. I will second live at Cook county Jail. And don't forget Lucille.
Live on the Bayou is an excellent recording. it isnt live but is recorded without overdubs.