Soul and blues legend Bobby “Blues” Bland died yesterday at the age of 83, according to reports.
Memphis television stations said that Bland, whose hits include “I Pity the Fool, “Turn on Your Love Light” and “Further on Up the Road”, died following complications from a long illness.
Bland was born in Rosemark, Tennessee on 27 January in 1930. He was a contemporary of other blues and soul icons BB King and Ray Charles.
Known as The Lion of the Blues, Bland joined the group the Beale Streeters when he first moved to Memphis in 1947.
Bland had considerable chart success in the 1950s and 1960s, topping the charts with “I Pity the Fool” and “That’s The Way Love Is”.
Having spent his early years following in the tradition of BB King’s falsetto, Bland attributed his subsequent distinctive “squall” vocals to Aretha Franklin’s father, Rev CL Franklin.
"I got the idea from Rev. C.L. Franklin, Aretha's father," Bland told Rolling Stone. "I had to work with that a long time before I got it to perfection."
Bland’s admirers range from Van Morrison to The Grateful Dead who covered “Ain’t Nothing You Can Do” and “Love Light” respectively.
"If I could sing like Bobby Bland," his long-time collaborator B.B. King on said: "I'd be a happy man."