According to a family friend, Blues Hall of Fame and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame recipient Robert Calvin “Bobby” Bland has died Sunday, June 23, 2013.
Though the exact condition he suffered from has yet to be disclosed, it is suspected that he suffered from ongoing pulmonary disease.
Bland was born in Rosemark, TN but later moved to Memphis with his mother. He lived in Germantown at the time of his death. His unique style of grunts and sense of despair provided a whole different level of blues and helped change the landscape of genre, along with other greats such as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and Junior Parker. He is best known for hits like “Turn on Your Love Light”, “That’s the Way Love Is” and “I Pity the Fool”.
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 its blues clubs, where he met a number of aspiring musicians. This resulted in the creation of Beale Streeters.
In Bland’s earliest recordings in the 50’s, you could hear his individuality trying to come through. 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.”
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 says.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.