Robert Calvin Brooks

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Soul balladeer Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland gone at age 83 January 27, 1930 — June 23, 2013

 

 

 

By Dwight Hobbes

Contributing Writer

 

R&B great Bobby “Blue” Bland, born Robert Calvin Brooks, has passed away. With his passing, one of the last remaining original soul singers leaves behind a musical tradition that, with the industry’s shift to computerized music tracks and formulaic vocals, eventually will vanish from the scene. Bland’s fluid, raw-edged quality, culled from equal parts gospel, Chicago-style blues and 1950s pop, distinguished him as a premier balladeer, known for such hits as “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City”; “Farther Up the Road”; “Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday is Just as Bad),” originally done by T-Bone Walker; the historic, often-covered “Turn On Your Love Light”; and his final number-one song on the R&B charts from 1963, “That’s the Way Love Is.”

The seminal artist never enjoyed the crossover success of his contemporaries, i.e. Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and, decades later, B.B. King. His was a career of sustained longevity as an icon in R&B and soul music with a loyal following to whom he was a beloved household name and celebrated cultural fixture. Essentially a son of Memphis’ legendary Beale Street scene, he started out there in 1947, at a mere 17, performing and palling around with what would later become the illustrious company of King, Parker, Johnny Ace and the regrettably unsung Rosco Gordon. Continue Reading →

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