Bobby Bland Biography

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Birth Name: Robert Calvin Bland
Born: 1930/01/27
Birth Place: Rosemark, Tennessee, United States
Genres: Blues, Soul Blues, R&B, Soul


Robert Calvin Bland (born January 27, 1930) better known as Bobby “Blue” Bland, is an American singer of blues and soul. He is an original member of The Beale Streeters and is sometimes referred to as the "Lion of the Blues". Along with such artists as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Junior Parker, Bland developed a sound that mixed gospel with the blues and R&B.

Bland's recordings from the early 1950s show him striving for individuality, but any progress was halted by a spell in the U.S. Army. When the singer returned to Memphis in 1954 he found several of his former associates, including Johnny Ace, enjoying considerable success, while Bland's recording label, Duke, had been sold to Houston entrepreneur Don Robey.

His melodic big-band blues singles, including "Farther Up the Road" (1957) and "Little Boy Blue" (1958) reached the US R&B Top 10, but Bobby's craft was most clearly heard on a series of early 1960s releases including "Cry Cry Cry," "I Pity The Fool" and the sparkling "Turn On Your Love Light", which became a much-covered standard.

Bland continued to enjoy a consistent run of R&B chart entries throughout the mid-'60s . Never truly breaking into the mainstream market, Bland's highest charting song on the pop chart, "Ain't Nothing You Can Do" peaked at #20 during the same week The Beatles held down the Top 5 spots. Much more important to his legacy, however, is the fact that Bland's records mostly sold on the R&B market and he chocked up an amazing 23 Top Ten hits on the Billboard R&B charts.

He went on to have several successful and critically-acclaimed contemporary blues/soul albums including “His California Album” and “Dreamer,” arranged by Michael Omartian and produced by ABC staff man Steve Barri. The albums, including the later "follow-up" in 1977 “Reflections in Blue,” were all recorded in Los Angeles and featured many of the city's top sessionmen at the time.

The first single released from “His California Album,” "This Time I'm Gone For Good" took Bland back into the pop Top 50 for the first time since 1964 and made the R&B top 10 in late 1973. The lead-off track from “Dreamer,” "Ain't No Love In the Heart of the City", was a strong R&B hit. The follow-up, "I Wouldn't Treat A Dog" was his biggest R&B hit for some years, climbing to #3 in late 1974, but as usual his strength was never the pop chart (where it hit #88).

A return to his roots in 1980 for a tribute album to his mentor Joe Scott, produced by music veterans Monk Higgins and Al Bell, resulted in a fine album “Sweet Vibrations,” but it failed to sell well outside of his traditional "chitlin circuit" base.

Bobby Bland was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.




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