Bobby 'Blue' Bland, the great soul and blues singer whose gospel-like vocal style and guttural yelp endeared him to audiences for decade after decade, has passed away aged 83 . The Tennessee-native died late on Sunday (June 23) night of unspecified reasons, with full-details behind his death being made available in the near future.

His songs of love, betrayal and everyday resignation were usually set to lush, orchestral backing and he made himself one of the most sought-after blues artists of a generation thanks to his sweeping number. He was also a blues purist too, setting his lyrics to guitar-led music as much as he did to orchestral backing - learning his trade as a bonafied blues artists from perhaps the best of all; BB King. Bland served as King's valet and chauffeur for a time whilst being shown the ropes as an aspiring singer and although he never reached the success levels of King, he will definitely be remembered as fondly.

As well as King, Bland owed much of his talent and singing style to the Detroit preacher CL Franklin, Aretha's father. Bland studied the recording of his distinct sermons intently during his early years as an artist, during which time he honed his skills as a blues and gospel singer as well as developing his distinct yelp. He continued to perform right until his later years, and remained a recording artist until as late as 2003, when he brought out his final studio album; Blues At Midnight. Although well-known among the African-American community, Bland never managed to reach as wide an audience as some of his blues/gospel/R&B contemporaries such as Ray Charles and Sam Cooke. Despite never managing to break into the listening habits of white audiences, he still remained a popular figure in the black community, mostly in the USA but to an extent abroad.

Blue was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Grammys in 1997. He is survived by his wife, Willie Mae, and by a daughter and son, Rodd, who is also a musician.

Bobby BLue Bland
Bobby 'Blue' Bland was known as the 'Sinatra of the blues'

Bobby BLue Bland Live
Gone, but not forgotten