Monday, June 24, 2013

Blues great Bobby 'Blue' Bland passes on

 Sometimes it seems that the Vinyl Word exists primarily to say a final goodbye to musicians who have passed on. It's easy to use the word 'great' to describe someone who has made a record or two which was excellent. But in the case of Bobby 'Blue' Bland, who has died aged 83, the word 'great' is truly justified. He was 'The Man' - one of the few singers who I made a point of seeing whenever I could. As a blues and soul singer he had no equal and I never tire of listening to his expressive voice with its trademark 'grunt'. I saw him at New Orleans Jazzfest in 1989, my first visit there, at Hammersmith with the Malaco show the same year, at the Astoria in London in 1994 (see photo above), at the Royal Albert Hall with Van Morrison in 2000 and at the House of Blues in New Orleans in 2005, and no doubt on other occasions too. On each occasion he was superb.
Born in Tennessee, Bobby first made his name in Memphis in the early 50s with the Beale Streeters, which included B B King, Johnny Ace and Junior Parker. After some early singles for Chess he signed for Duke Records where he recorded a string of brilliant records, including Farther Up The Road, I Pity The Fool, Turn On Your Love Light, Ain't Nothing You Can Do and Yield Not To Temptation. Despite these great records, backed by classic Duke LPs such as Two Steps From The Blues, The Soul Of The Man and Touch Of The Blues, Bobby gained little recognition outside the blues and R and B world. He continued to record some great tracks for Dunhill, ABC, MCA and Malaco which broadened his appeal and strengthened his reputation as one of the true greats, as did two albums recorded with B B King. He was championed by the likes of Van Morrison and appeared with him in London, and later by Mick Hucknall, who recorded a tribute album.Earlier this year I had hoped to catch him when he was due to perform in Jackson, Mississippi, but it couldn't be fitted into our schedule. Now I will never have another chance to catch the great man.
I have many Bobby Blue Bland records in my collection - here are a few of them.
Here is Yield Not To Temptation, which made number one on my personal top ten on February 21st, 1965.
Here's Bobby excellent obituary in The Guardian:


At 9:01 am , Blogger Pete Gold said...

This is indeed a very sad loss to the music world. In 2007 Mick Hucknall did a Tribute to Bobby Cd which as well as being very good it also has a DVD containing a live interview with Bobby. The Together live with B B King is also an excellent CD.

At 12:24 am , Blogger john marriott said...

Nice piece Nick. He was always my No 1 singer - my favourite LP is the "Here's The Man" on Duke - opened up our tribute on the show tonight with the first track ( with the announcers intro) - 36 22 36. The last line of Dave Clarks sleevenotes call it "this terrific VINYL OF THE BLUES".
Appropriate for your blog


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