Bobby (Blue) Bland, the debonair balladeer whose sophisticated, emotionally fraught performances helped modernize the blues, died on Sunday at his home in Germantown, Tenn., a suburb of Memphis. He was 83.
Bobby was an original member of the Beale Streeters, and was 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. An imitator of Frank Sinatra, he was also known as the "Sinatra of the blues"; his music was also influenced by Nat King Cole.
Mr. Bland’s synthesis of Southern vernacular music and classy big-band arrangements made him a stylistic pioneer, but whatever he accomplished by way of formal innovation ultimately derived from his underlying faith in the emotional power of the blues.
“I’d like to be remembered as just a good old country boy that did his best to give us something to listen to and help them through a lot of sad moments, happy moments, whatever,” he said in a 2009 interview with the syndicated “House of Blues Radio Hour.”
“Whatever moments you get of happiness, use it up, you know, if you can, because it don’t come that often.”
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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