Bobby Bland: Great Moments

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 06:10 AM Written by 

Bobby Bland's death at age 81 after a period of failing health ends the career of another of the great postwar blues singers. His smoky, passionate vocals inspired blues and rock acts the same way many of the great blues guitarists did. Bland wasn't a guitarist himself, but Wayne Bennett, his longtime guitarist, was influential in his own right.

Bland started in gospel and was part of a loose Memphis confederation of blues and R&B singers including B.B. King, Johnny Ace and Rosco Gordon before being drafted. After his discharge, he signed on as B.B.'s driver/valet before his own career exploded with "Farther Up The Road" in 1957. Like B.B., a lifelong friend, Bland enjoyed a solid, established African-American audience for over a decade before young white musicians discovered him and brought him an entirely new and different following that never flagged.

Here are some high points, right up to a few months ago.

1957: His # 1 R&B hit single: "Farther Up The Road."

1961: Two # 2 R&B singles, both standards today.

"I Pity The Fool."

"Turn On Your Love Light," later a Grateful Dead favorite.

1963: The second # 1: "That's The Way Love Is."

1977: With B.B King (the two friends recorded an album in 1975), on "The Thrill Is Gone."

1992: B.B. inducts Bland into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1992)

February 11, 2013: Brought onstage by Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang during a performance at a Tunica, Mississippi casino.

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