One of the blues and soul giants, period.
By Blurt Staff
Legendary blues/soul singer Bobby “Blue” Bland—aka Bobby (Blue) Bland, aka Robert Calvin “Bobby” Bland—passed away in Memphis yesterday, June 23, from “complications from an ongoing illness,” according to the New York Times. His son Rodd reported the news to the Associated Press. The 1992 Rock and Roll Hall of fame inductee was 83.
Writes the Times in an elegant obituary,“Though he possessed gifts on a par with his most consummate peers, Mr. Bland never achieved the popular acclaim enjoyed by contemporaries like Ray Charles and B. B. King. His restrained vocals, punctuated by the occasional squalling shout, nevertheless made him a mainstay on the rhythm-and-blues charts and club circuit for decades. Exhibiting a delicacy of phrasing and command of dynamics akin to those of the most urbane pop and jazz crooners, his intimate pleading left its mark on everyone from the soul singers Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett to rock groups like the Allman Brothers and the Band.”
Bland was also sampled by the hip-hop community, including Jaz-Z, who tapped 1974’s “The Love in the Heart of the City” for his 2001 album The Blueprint.
The man sometimes called The Lion of the Blues was born in Tennessee but got his start in Memphis gospel groups and eventually moved into the soul milieu, scoring hits throughout the ‘60s and into the ‘70s. He also enjoyed several comebacks in the years to follow, including a period in the mid ‘80s when he and B. B. King toured together.