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Bobby "Blue" Bland

Bobby Bland earned his enduring blues superstar status the hard way: without a guitar, harmonica, or any other instrument to fall back upon. All Bland had to offer was his magnificent voice, a tremendously powerful instrument in his early heyday, injected with charisma and melisma to spare. Just ask his legion of female fans, who deemed him a sex symbol late into his career.

For all his promise, Bland's musical career ignited slowly. He was a founding member of the Beale Streeters, the fabled Memphis aggregation that also included B.B. King and Johnny Ace. Singles for Chess in 1951 (produced by Sam Phillips) and Modern the next year bombed, but that didn't stop local DJ David Mattis from cutting Bland on a couple of 1952 singles for his fledgling Duke logo.

Bland's tormented crying style was still pretty rough around the edges before he entered the Army in late 1952. But his progress upon his 1955 return was remarkable; with saxist Bill Harvey's band (featuring guitarist Roy Gaines and trumpeter Joe Scott) providing sizzling support, Bland's assured vocal on the swaggering "It's My Life Baby" sounds like the work of a new man. By now, Duke was headed by hard-boiled Houston entrepreneur Don Robey, who provided top-flight bands for his artists. Scott soon became Bland's mentor, patiently teaching him the intricacies of phrasing when singing sophisticated fare (by 1962, Bland was credibly crooning "Blue Moon," a long way from Beale Street).

Most of Bland's savage Texas blues sides during the mid- to late '50s featured the slashing guitar of Clarence Hollimon, notably "I Smell Trouble," "I Don't Believe," "Don't Want No Woman," "You Got Me (Where You Want Me)," and the torrid "Loan a Helping Hand" and "Teach Me (How to Love You)." But the insistent guitar riffs guiding Bland's first national hit, 1957's driving "Farther Up the Road," were contributed by Pat Hare, another vicious picker who would eventually die in prison after murdering his girlfriend and a cop. Later, Wayne Bennett took over on guitar, his elegant fretwork prominent on Bland's Duke waxings throughout much of the '60s.

The gospel underpinnings inherent to Bland's powerhouse delivery were never more apparent than on the 1958 outing "Little Boy Blue," a vocal tour de force that wrings every ounce of emotion out of the grinding ballad. Scott steered his charge into smoother material as the decade turned: the seminal mixtures of blues, R&B, and primordial soul on "I Pity the Fool," the Brook Benton-penned "I'll Take Care of You," and "Two Steps From the Blues" were tremendously influential to a legion of up-and-coming Southern soulsters. Collected on the 1961 LP Two Steps from the Blues, they produced one of the classic full-lengths of modern blues.

Scott's blazing brass arrangements upped the excitement ante on Bland's frantic rockers "Turn on Your Love Light" in 1961 and "Yield Not to Temptation" the next year. But the vocalist was learning his lessons so well that he sounded just as conversant on soulful R&B rhumbas (1963's "Call on Me") and polished ballads ("That's the Way Love Is," "Share Your Love With Me") as with an after-hours blues revival of T-Bone Walker's "Stormy Monday Blues" that proved a most unlikely pop hit for him in 1962. With "Ain't Nothing You Can Do," "Ain't Doing Too Bad," and "Poverty," Bland rolled through the mid-'60s, his superstar status diminishing not a whit.

In 1973, Robey sold his labels to ABC Records, and Bland was part of the deal. Without Scott and his familiar surroundings to lean on, Bland's releases grew less consistent artistically, though His California Album in 1973 and Dreamer the next year boasted some nice moments (there was even an album's worth of country standards). The singer re-teamed with his old pal B.B. King for a couple of mid-'70s albums that broke no new ground but further heightened Bland's profile, while his solo work for MCA teetered closer and closer to MOR (Bland has often expressed his admiration for ultra-mellow pop singer Perry Como).

Bland began recording for Jackson, Mississippi's Malaco Records in the mid-'80s. His pipes undeniably reflected the ravages of time, but he endured as a blues superstar of the loftiest order, resurfacing in 1998 with Memphis Monday Morning, and five years later with Blues in Memphis. Bland died in Memphis in June 2013 at the age of 83. ~ Bill Dahl, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: That Did It! - The Duke Recordings, Vol. 3

Comments

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Just pure blues you have to love it.
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Bobby and BB my main music men! MY bff don't know bout him!
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Love me some blues. Got keep it a secret. Just me n you. My s**t.
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We. Miss. You ..bobby. Blue. Bland. . love. You
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I love that gutteral growl. He was one of my favorite blues artists. The albums he made with B.B. King were classic.
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L
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eloisclayton
I'm seeking my favorite song (by Bobby Bluebland;Y' o u d Be A Millionaire, and I can't find it(but I'll keep searching)!
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Love your music
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Now thats what music is
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major1016
Good Blues
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My mother's all time favorite artist. She recently passed, and I remember as a child that he brought so much joy to her. Back then, I couldn't stand too much of him. Now, I truly appreciate the man, and all the road trip
Memories.... C r y , Cry, Cry.....Chea p e r to keep her, Stormy Monday (which I think is the best version), ain't no Love in the city
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Love his music
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My late father Joe Scott was really instrumental & influential in bobby blue land's success too bad universal music publishing doesn't respect or acknowledge it
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Saw Bobby Blue Bland at Kimball's East, in Emmeryville, California in '92. Greatest show ever.
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how much I always love you Bobby from the bottom of my heart
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Here was a good friend of mind who I meet in the army in 1952, I love his blues.
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c.hamp37
I remember listening to Bobby Blue Bland late at night from a radio station in Gallatin Tennessee--- I was in Conway SC.. That was AM radio back then and that station had 50 thousand watts and they would skip signal off the ionosphere. The DJ would feature him on the "Blue Plate Special". Loved that show and love the blues.
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bobby blue bland ,I saw him in Seattle at a dance club,people back then got dress up .and we dance all nite ,then we go to after club and more dancing and drinking to ,they have some good soul food to.
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Classic
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THE GREATEST BLUES SINGER EVER.....MY FAVORITE SINGER, THE GREAT BOBBY BLUE BLAND, YOUR MUSIC WILL STAND THE TEST OF TIME....YOU WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED.. . R I P
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Love me some B.B.Bland... . M e m p h i s M. Morning is my jam..my dad was fro there....tha x for your music. .. Sgrho
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One time bobby bland r.i.p amazing man
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I love BBBB Bobby Blue Bland
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Bobby Blue Bland could sing out /of the phone book and make it sexy....I/mi s s him so.
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Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone.
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I need a. Second hand
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Where is my liquor! Growing up listening to this was a blessing, Love you Lucille
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I love BBB. Bobby Blue Bland.
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MY MAMAS FAVE ONE OF MINE TOO RIP BOBBY!
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bsharris405
Another GOLDEN VOICE added to HEAVENLY CHOIR....
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pfalston7
that amazing voice, the 1 and only Bobby Blue Bland!!!!!
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Bobby is the man
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roy_buffalo
My wife burned a CD with Bland's Gotta Use My Imagination, ain't No Sunshine in the City, and Ain't no Sunshine when She's Gone- 3 months later she passed and a year later so did Bobby- and whenever I hear those 3 cuts, I'm reminded of all that I loved about my wife, Judi, and Bobby Blue Bland's awesome blues!!!
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He's a legend.
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this man makes me want to light up my bbq pit and drink a cold one. damn i love his music. rip Bobby.
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Low, Slow, an Easy. This man song with ease. Never in a bind. Listen to the music with the words, the whole time he's telling you how to handle yourself.
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His songs have meaning. ..
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R.I.P. Great voice....... l i s t e n to this man yall
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Good-by Bobby--- been a year and still miss ya Troop...Than k s for all you left behind...Hop e things are cool...Alway s a Fan ....
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Listen to the words, this great artists always had a message in the music. You ain't got to hurt someone just walk away.
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Kiss me to the music
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L i l j o h n n y l o v e b l u e s c h e c k o u t b o b b y b l u e b l a n d r a d i o
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L i l m r b o b b y b l u b l a n d w a s a b l u e s i n g e r
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This MAN is My favorite Blues singer, R.I.P. Mr. BobbyBlueBla n d
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L i l j o h n n y b l u e s m a n. R i p b o b b y b l u e b l a n d
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Bobby b bland can to new orleans 2002 I was on the stage police handcuffs me Bobby says let her go
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Miss Bobby but his music will always be in my heart went I'm going through something put his music on I FEEL better members only
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Blues Man that's all I know
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Wow now that's passion
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L. I. L. J. O. H. N. N. Y. L. O. V. E. T. H a. T. S o n.g. A. N. T. N. O. L. O. V. E. I. N. C i. T. Y. B. o.b. b y. B. l. U. E. B. l. A n d
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