The celebrated American singer Bobby Bland, who is credited with defining the sound of modern blues, has passed away at age 83 after health complications.
The 'Turn On Your Love Light' star, also known as Bobby "Blues" Bland and "The Lion of the Blues", was extremely influential in the blues genre, establishing a unique sound that incorporating gospel-influenced singing into blues and R&B. Robert Calvin Bland was born in 1930 in Rosemark, Tennessee, and later moved to Memphis where he would join gospel groups and frequent Beale Street with its reputation for blues clubs. His career as a singer was temporarily put on hold after serving a stint in the US army, but he fell back into the music scene upon his return. He hit his No.1 spot on the R&B charts with his 1957 single 'Further On Up The Road' and continued to feature in the charts in the late fifties and sixties. He emerged as a unique blues singer with a characteristic vocal style, described by biographers as a "supple, confidential, soul-blues delivery" that would become known as a "chicken-bone sound", characterised by "guttural growls and snorts" whilst retaining a "smooth as velvet quality."
Listen To Blues Legend Bobby Bland Performing St James Infirmary:
As a performer, Bland was said to hypnotise audiences, walking "a fine line between passionate expression and exquisite self-control," with well-honed vocal influences including BB King and Aretha Franklin's father - Rev. C.F. Franklin.Bland's long-time collaborator, B.B. King spoke highly of his friend: "If I could sing like Bobby Bland I'd be a happy man."
In 1997, he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award - a prestigious accolade only given to those "performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording." The many influenced by Bland's work include Van Morrison, The Grateful Dead, and Simply Red. Bobby Bland's passing yesterday (23rd June) followed complications from an ongoing illness.