Bobby “Blue” Bland died on Sunday at the age of 83.
According to a family friend, Blues Hall of Fame recipient Robert Calvin “Bobby” Bland has died today. No other details were available.
Updated: Bland’s son Rodd told CNN that health issues sidelined the singer earlier this year. “He had a hole in his stomach that had become tumorous, and it was emptying into his bloodstream.”
Rodd said Bland passed away from natural causes at his home in Germantown, Tennessee. “He was in my arms,” his son said. “But I’m not going to lie. I could have used at least 20 more years.”
Already the condolences are coming in.
Jim Hanzalik with World One Presents said, “”It’s with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to true legend and icon of the blues. Thank you for all the great memories, conversations and love you shared with us and your many fans. We love you and you’ll be missed – RIP Bobby Blue Bland.”
Jay Sieleman with the Blues Foundation called Bland the greatest blues singer in the world.
“He was respected by so many people in the rock world and in the jazz world. He’s the Frank Sinatra of the blues. He’s respected for his voice and his phrasing. It’s going to be a huge loss to blues music,” Sieleman said.
Bobby “Blue” Bland was an original member of the Beale Streeters, and is considered the “Lion of the Blues”.
Bland’s unique style of phlegm clearing grunts and sense of despair provided a whole different level of blues and helped change the landscape of blues along with other greats such as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Junior Parker.
Bland started singing with local gospel groups in Memphis Tenn. and wanted to expand his music, so he started going to the famous Beale Street known for it’s blues clubs, where he met a number of aspiring musicians calling their group the Beale Streeters.
In Bland’s earliest recordings in the 50’s, you could hear his individuality trying to come through, but his career was interrupted with a stint in the U.S. Army.
Bland started touring with Junior Parker in 1956 and doubled as a valet and driver. He was reported to have been valet and driver for others such as B. B. King and Rosco Gordon.
In 1957 Bland started rising in the charts with “Farther Up the Road,” released in 1957, and “Little Boy Blue,” released in 1958, as he made it into the R&B Top 10.
Bland hit his stride with “Cry Cry Cry”, “I Pity The Fool” and the “Turn On Your Love Light.”
He will be missed.
Bobby “Blue” Bland and his band performed to a stellar crowd Sunday in Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s Pano Hall.
The Blues Hall of Famer was greeted with a standing ovation as he was escorted center stage. Bland remained seated throughout his performance, but was quite interactive with band members as each would come up and play next to the legendary singer – with the exception of the drummer – duh!
The 82 year old Bland struggled on a few songs such as “Members Only,” as his vocals are not what they used to be. However, that did not take away from the audience’s undying love for the singer as after each song fans were on their feet cheering.
Bland’s unique ability to provide a sense of despair, along with his occasional phlegm clearing grunts were quite evident as he continued playing his multitude of songs.
The 7-piece band did a fantastic job with the horn section stealing the show.
UPDATE: Band members included Charlton Johnson (guitar), Louis Villery (bass), Joe Hardin (trumpet), Rick Dolan (trumpet), Sidney Ford (sax), Charles Campbell (sax), Rodd Bland (drums) – Thanks to Rodd Bland for the assist in identifying members.
While Bland struggled through some songs, the old Bland shined through on a number of songs, reminding everyone why Bland was and continues to be such a great blues performer.