Speaking to CNN, the singer’s son said that failing health had forced his dad off the stage earlier this year. “He had a hole in his stomach that had become tumorous, and it was emptying into his bloodstream.”
He said that Bland had passed away from natural causes at his home in Germantown, Tennessee. Rodd said, “He was in my arms, but I’m not going to lie. I could have used at least 20 more years.”
Robert Calvin “Bobby” Bland was born January 27, 1930 he became known as Bobby “Blue” Bland to fans of his music. He was an American singer of blues and soul. Bland was also an original member of the Beale Streeters and he was sometimes referred to as the “Lion of the Blues”.
Bland, as well as other artists created a sound in his music that mixed gospel with the blues and R&B. He was an imitator of Frank Sinatra and through this he was also known as the “Sinatra of the blues.” Bland was also influenced by Nat King Cole.
Bland came into this world in the small town of Rosemark, Tennessee. He later moved to Memphis with his mother and it was there that he started singing with local gospel groups. He began to hang around the city’s famous Beale Street in order to broaden his experience in music. It was there that he started working with other aspiring musicians named. The “aspiring musician’s were called, appropriately enough, The Beale Streeters, which included such future stars as B.B. King, Junior Parker and others.
Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland began his professional career in the early 1950s and it was interrupted by a short stint in the US Army. He got out in 1954 and resumed his career building. He concentrated on his solo act and he also established a long-term professional relationship with Duke Records.
In a short while he had hits on the R&B charts, including “I Pity the Fool” and “That’s the Way Love Is.” Bland often toured with his former bandmate B.B. King.
Bland was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981 and in 1992 his friend and former bandmate B.B. King was there was there for Bland’s second induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Bland also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.
Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland was an influential performer in the blues world and his death at the age of 83 will not diminish his iconic status from those in the industry who admired his musical ability. He never reached the dizzying heights of fame like the man he emulated, Frank Sinatra; but according to his son, he didn’t need to.
Bland’s son, who was formerly a drummer in his father’s band, said, “He never b**ched about not getting his due. When I took him to Beale Street for ribs and catfish, fans would come up to him. He was always courteous, polite and kind. And humble. That’s what I admired.”
In 1985, Bland was signed by Malaco Records. A company that specialised in traditional Southern black music for whom he made a series of albums. He continued to tour and appear at concerts with fellow blues singer B. B. King. The two performers had collaborated for two albums in the 1970s.
Despite Bland’s occasional age-related ill-health, he continued to record new albums for Malaco and perform occasional tours alone, with guitarist/producer Angelo Earl and also with B.B. King, he also made appearances at blues and soul festivals worldwide.
Singers as diverse as Van Morrison and Mick Hucknell claimed to have been influenced by Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland and Morrison covered “Ain’t Nothing You Can’t Do” on his 1974 live album It’s Too Late to Stop Now. He also had Bland as a guest singer at his concerts. He also included a previously unreleased version of a March 2000 duet of Morrison and Bland singing “Tupelo Honey” on his 2007 compilation album, The Best of Van Morrison Volume 3.
In 2008 the British singer and lead vocalist of Simply Red, Mick Hucknall, released an album titled, Tribute to Bobby. It contained songs associated with Bland and the album reached number 18 in the UK Albums Chart.
In a 2009 interview with the syndicated radio program, House of the Blues Radio Hour he said, “I’d like to be remembered as just a good old country boy that did his best to give us something to listen to and help them through a lot of sad moments, happy moments, whatever.” He added, “Whatever moments you get of happiness, use it up, you know, if you can, because it don’t come that often.”
Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, iconic blues singer has died Monday June 24 2013. No details of his funeral arrangements have been disclosed. The music world has lost a definitive music genre creator.
By Michael Smith