Bobby “Blue” Bland has died at the age of 83. Bland was known for his ballads that included a mix of soul and modern blues. Bland received a lifetime achievement Grammy Award in 1997 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
Bobby was born Robert Calvin Brooks in Millington, Tennessee on January 27, 1930. Brooks came from a meager background, as his father abandoned the family when he was a child. He dropped out of elementary school before the age of 10 to work in the cotton fields.
As reported by The New York Times, Bobby eventually took the last name of his stepfather Leroy. With his new name, Bobby traveled to Memphis in 1947 to find work.
Bobby “Blue” Bland never learned to write music or play an instrument, but he loved to sing the blues. While living in Memphis, Bobby joined several other musicians to form the Beale Streeters.
Throughout the years the Beale Streeters were joined by B.B. King, Roscoe Gordon, Earl Forest, and Johnny Ace. Bland and Johnny Ace continued working together, touring with the Johnny Ace Review.
In 1952, Bobby was drafted to serve in the US Army. Upon his discharge in 1954, Bobby signed a contract with Duke Records. By the 1960s, Bobby “Blue” Bland was touring as a headliner, performing nearly 300 shows every year.
As reported by BobbyBlueBland.com, the relentless touring schedule and a bout with alcoholism eventually halted Bland’s career for several years.
Bland overcame the alcoholism, going on to record and release two more albums. Throughout the years, Bland had numerous hits on the R&B charts including “Further On Up the Road,” “I Pity the Fool,” “I’ll Take Care of You,” “Turn on Your Love Light,” and “Further On Up the Road.”
Bobby “Blue” Bland enjoyed a long and rewarding career doing what he loved. His talent did not come from music lessons, it came from his heart. Bland passed away on Sunday in his Memphis home, surrounded by his family.
[Image via Flickr]