Bobby "Blue" Bland (January 27, 1930 - June 23, 2013) was a highly acclaimed and veteran blues/soul/R&B singer with a great deal of crossover appeal who became famous beginning in the late 1950s. Also known as the "Lion of the Blues" and the "Sinatra of the Blues," his signature style came from his powerful, heartfelt vocals that could range from a more restrained velvety smooth delivery to anguished shouting, depending on the progression of the song's storyline. His best known songs include "Farther Up The Road" (1957), "I Pity The Fool" (1961), "Turn On Your Love Light" (1961), "That's The Way Love Is" (1963), and "Ain't Nothing You Can Do" (1964).
Born Robert Calvin Brooks in Barretville, Tennessee, his father abandoned the family shortly after Robert's birth and he later took the surname, Bland, from his stepfather. With his mother, he moved to Memphis in 1947 where he began singing with various gospel groups and soon after became a part of the local blues music scene that also included such then up-and-coming stars as Rosco Gordon, Junior Parker, Johnny Ace, and B.B. King. In the early 1950s, Bland made several recordings on Chess and Modern Records before enlisting in the U.S. Army. During his military service, he performed in a band with pop star Eddie Fisher. Upon Bland's return in 1954, he joined the Johnny Ace Revue and signed with Duke Records.
Bobby Bland debuted in 1957 with "Farther Up The Road," which topped the R&B charts and reached #43 on the Billboard Hot 100. He also topped the R&B charts with "I Pity The Fool" (1961) and "That's The Way Love Is" (1963). Bland's very long string of hits on both charts also includes "Turn On Your Love Light" (1961), "Stormy Monday Blues" (1962), "Call On Me" (1963), "Ain't Nothing You Can Do" (1964), "Share Your Love With Me" (1964), "Ain't Doing Too Bad (Part 1)" (1964), "This Time I'm Gone For Good" (1973), and "I Wouldn't Treat A Dog (The Way You Treated Me)" (1974). His final hit came in 1985 on the R&B charts with "Members Only."
Bobby Bland's numerous honors and accolades included a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1997), a Rhythm & Blues Pioneer Award (1992), and being inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame (1981), the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (1992), and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame (2012). His 1961 smash, "Turn On Your Love Light," received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999 and is included in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's list of "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll."
- The New York Times remembers Bobby (Blue) Bland.
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- Call On Me 1963
- That's The Way Love Is 1963
- Turn On Your Love Light 1961
(This song later also became a hit for Oscar Toney, Jr. (1967), the Human Beinz (1968), Bill Black's Combo (1968), and Jerry Lee Lewis (1972).)
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