Bobby 'Blue' Bland Has Died

Tributes pour in for soul icon...
Bobby Bland

Legendary R&B singer Bobby 'Blue' Bland has passed away due to complications from an ongoing illness.

Famed as the city which birthed the blues, Memphis arguably took a back seat once R&B turned into soul. However one figure was to bridge the two, with Bobby 'Blue' Bland dominating American music for decades.

A product of the gutsy, belting school of blues vocalists, his style smoothed with the influence of crooners such as Frank Sinatra - to the extent that Bland was once known as 'the Sinatra of the Blues'.

Initially a valet and driver to better known acts (including B.B. King) Bobby Bland's career quickly spiralled once signed to Duke. Hits such as 'Turn On Your Love Light' dominated the R&B charts, with even the pop world pricking up its ears at this unique talent.

Arguably enjoying his artistic heyday in the mid 60s, the sale of Duke to the larger ABC group afforded Bland a far larger budget. Lavish contemporary soul albums followed, with the likes of 'His California' becoming smooth hits.

In the UK, though, Bobby 'Blue' Bland enjoyed alternative fame on the Northern Soul scene. The 80s saw venues such as the 100 Club and Stafford's Room At The Top re-introduce Bland's work to a new audience, with tracks such as 'Shoes' becoming staples on the rare soul scene.

Bobby Bland died on June 23rd at his home in Memphis, due to complications associated with an ongoing illness. Issuing a statement, the performer's son, Rodd Bland, said of his father, "He's always been the type of guy that if he could help you in any way, form or fashion, he would."

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