It is with great sadness that we report on the death of a true legend, Bobby "Blue" Bland. The great blues singer passed away on Sunday, June 23, 2012 at the age of 83 years, his death due to complications from an ongoing illness. Bland died in his Memphis, Tennessee home surrounded by family.
Bland's smooth-as-silk vocal style successfully bridged the blues and R&B era of the 1950s and the soul era of the 1960s with a number of hit singles like "Turn On Your Love Light" and "Further On Up The Road." Along the way, Bland would influence scores of imitators and followers, including great soul singers like Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye, rockers like Van Morrison and Eric Clapton, and a generation of blues singers.
A contemporary of fellow blues legend B.B. King, Bland served as the guitarist's valet and driver for a while before launching his career with singles for labels like Chess, Modern, and Duke Records, none of which sold particularly well. After a brief stint in the Army, Bland returned to Duke Records where he began his string of hits, as well as classic albums like 1961's Two Steps From The Blues and 1963's Call On Me. When Duke was sold to ABC Dunhill, Bland's contract was part of the deal, and he continued recorded for the label and its successor, MCA Records, well into the 1970s.
Bland found a modicum of mainstream success during the 1970s to go along with his R&B chart domination, scoring a Top 50 hit with "This Time I'm Gone For Good" from his 1974 album Dreamer. During the 1970s the singer reunited with King and the two artists would become one of the most popular touring acts of the 1970s and early '80s. The musical partnership resulted in a pair of critically-acclaimed mid-1970s releases, Together For The First Time...Live (1974) and Together Again...Live (1976), both of which were Top 10 R&B chart hits (the first album also hitting #43 on the pop chart).
During the 1980s, Bland landed on Mississippi's Malaco Records label, where he would stay for the rest of his career, the singer delivering some of his best work on albums like Members Only and First Class Blues. Bland continued to tour, both solo and with King, through the late 1980s and well into the 2000s until health problems took him off the road in 2011. A well-respected elder statesman of the blues, Bobby "Blue" Bland was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. Capping off an amazing career that spanned seven decades, Bland received a Grammy® Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. Bland's influence on blues, rock, and soul music cannot be overestimated, and he will be missed...
Related content: Bobby "Blue" Bland Profile
Photo courtesy Universal Music