Bobby “Blue” Bland
Born: January 30, 1930, Rosemark, Tennessee
Died: June 27, 2013
Photo credit: Ken Murphy – www.kenmurphysouth.com
A sophisticated blues vocal stylist with a rich baritone, Bland came of age musically in Memphis, performing with the Beale Streeters, a loose-knit group that included musicians B.B. King, Johnny Ace, and Junior Parker. One of the main creators of the modern soul blues sound, Bobby “Blue” Bland mixed gospel with blues and R&B, coloring it with a shimmering soul sensibility. A compelling vocalist, he can go from falsetto to gospel growl in one song and ranks as one of the greatest soul-blues vocalists of all time. Born Robert Calvin Bland, he moved to Memphis in 1947 and soon formed the gospel group The Miniatures, followed by the Beale Streeters, and then played with the Johnny Ace Revue in the early 1950’s and frequently toured with Little Junior Parker from 1954 to 1961. He first recorded on the Modern label in 1952 and with the Roscoe Gordon Band on the Chess label in 1954. Signed to the Duke label, Bland released It’s My Life Baby in 1955. He scored an R&B charts #1 hit with Farther on Up The Road in 1957 and another #1 with I Pity the Fool in 1961. Turn On Your Love Light made it to #2 on the charts followed by That’s the Way Love Is in 1963, his third #1 hit. He has recorded for Malaco records since the 1970’s, was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981 and The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.