Blues Singer Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland Dies at 83 (TJMS TRIBUTE)

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After a stint in the Army, he recorded with producer Sam Phillips, who helped launch the careers of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, in the early 1950s with little to show for it. It wasn’t until later that decade Bland began to find success.

He scored his first No. 1 on the R&B charts with “Further On Up the Road” in 1957 and it was around this time he got his nickname, taken from his song “Little Boy Blue” because his repertoire focused so closely on lovelorn subject matter. Beginning with “I’ll Take Care of You” in early 1960, Bland released a dozen R&B hits in a row. That string included “Turn On Your Love Light” in 1961.

Some of his best-known songs included “Call on Me” and “That’s the Way Love Is,” both released in 1963, and “Ain’t Nothing You Can Do” in 1964.

“Lead Me On,” another well-known song, breaks the listener’s heart with the opening lines: “You know how it feels, you understand/What it is to be a stranger, in this unfriendly land.”

Bland wasn’t as well known as some of his contemporaries, but was no less an influential figure for early rock ‘n’ roll stars. Many of his songs, especially “Further On Up the Road” and “I Pity the Fool,” were recorded by young rockers, including David Bowie and Eric Clapton.

“He’s always been the type of guy that if he could help you in any way, form or fashion, he would,” Rodd Bland said.

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