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Born January 27, 1930, Rosemark, Tennessee. Moved to Memphis 1948. Played with Billy 'Red' Love and other influential Delta musicians. First recording was Dry Up Baby (Modern 848). Entered Armed Services 1952, joined Johnny Ace Revue after discharge, having signed with Duke Records. First smash hit, It's My Life Baby, 1955 followed by years of consistent success in R&B market.
In the 50s and early
60s, Bobby "Blue" Bland
was one of the main creators of the modern soul-blues sound. Along with
such artists as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Junior Parker, Bland
developed a sound that mixed gospel with blues and R&B. Bobby's
style of soul-blues was punctuated with a big-band sound and slick,
B.B. King-flavored guitar riffs.
From 1957 to 1961 Bland played the chitlin' circuit with Junior Parker and his band, the Blue Flames. But in 1961 Bland broke with Parker, went out on his own, and rose to his greatest popularity. Because Bland neither composed nor played an instrument, he relied on others for songs and inspired instrumentation. Joe Scott, his bandleader and arranger, and for years one of Duke label owner Don Robey's chief talent scouts, helped create Bland's big-band sound. Just as important to Bland's sound was guitarist Wayne Bennett, who complemented the horns and Bland's vocals with jazz-influenced solos,a la T-Bone Walker and B.B. King.
Bland worked with Scott and Bennett until 1968 when the band broke up, partially the result of Bland's alleged alcohol problems. But Bland resuscitated his career in 1972, this time with producer Steve Garrie and bandleader Ernie Fields, Jr. Rather than dwell on R&B ballads, Garrie gave Bland a blues-based sound that resulted in two of his more commercially successful albums: California Album (1973) and Dreamer (1974). Both works were released on the ABC-Dunhill label, the company that purchased Duke in 1972.
Despite Bland's extensive recording catalogue, his long-term success on
the R&B charts, and his near-constant touring (often with
longtime friend B.B. King), he rarely crossed over into the pop realm.
Dozens of blues and R&B influenced rock vocalists, however,
have credited Bland as a main influence. Throughout the 70s, 80s, and
early 90s, he continued to record, mostly for the Jackson, Mississippi,
blues label, Malaco. Bland was inducted into the Blues Foundation's
Hall of Fame in 1981 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in