We lost another great one this weekend.
Via NYDailyNews reports:
Bobby “Blue” Bland, one of the best pure rhythm and blues singers ever, died Sunday in Memphis. He was 83.
His son Rodd told Associated Press he died from complications of an ongoing illness.
Bland was a classic music business survivor, an artist who kept and cared for his skills long enough to be appreciated. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and was presented a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.
He recorded and sang in parts of eight decades, starting with the embryonic rhythm and blues circuit of the deep South in the late 1940s.
Born in Rosemark, Tenn., he dropped out of school to help support his family by picking cotton. He served in the Army in the early 1950s.
After some early time in gospel groups, he played with a loose aggregation of blues and R&B artists called the Beale Streeters in Memphis. The group at times included B.B. King, with whom Bland remained good friends.
He recorded for Don Robey’s Duke/Peacock complex in Houston, joining other 1950s stars like Johnny Ace and Big Mama Thornton. He toured for years with his colleague Junior Parker.
He never had great crossover chart or radio success, but he was a fixture on the R&B charts for years. He remains one of the top 25 best-selling R&B artists of modern times.
His biggest crossover chart success came with “Turn On Your Lovelight” in 1961.
His top-five R&B hits included “Farther Up the Road,” “I Pity the Fool,” “I’ll Take Care of You” and “Stormy Monday.”
By the late 1960s he had become a fixture on the R&B touring circuit, popular in festivals as well as clubs.
“I’ve been fortunate that my music appeals to everyone,” he said in a 1992 interview. “But I’m doing the same thing I’ve been doing all my life. My audience just seemed to catch up with me.”
For years he would play up to 300 one-night dates annually.
“After a while the road becomes your home,” he said. “It’s a job, but it’s a job I enjoy.”
Numerous later artists have paid their respects to Bland. He recorded a duet of “Tupelo Honey” with Van Morrison and he has been sampled by a number of rappers, including Kanye West.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones. His legacy will surely live on in the music!
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