Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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BLAND, Bobby 'Blue'

(b Robert Calvin Bland, 27 January 1930, Rosemark TN; d 23 June 2013, Memphis) R&B singer. His first records were on Duke in '54, where A&R director Joe Scott (d 1979) wrote dramatic brass-rich arrangments. 'It's My Life' revealed a smooth pop balladeer using a blues palette. There were a total of 63 R&B chart placings 1957-1985, including 17 top tens 1960-70; 'I Pity The Fool' '61 and 'That's The Way Love Is' '63 made no. 1. Double-sided hit 'That's The Way Love Is'/'Call On Me' made the pop chart as well, as did 'Turn On Your Love Light', 'Ain't Nothin' You Can Do'.  Three albums charted '62-4; Call On Me reaching no. 11: the title song was an obvious attempt on the pop market, but Bland was always faithful to himself; the result was classic pop during the soul era of the early '60s. Of many albums on MCA and Malaco, Members Only '86 on Malaco was said to be his best since Duke days; two double-CD sets of The Duke Recordings on Duke/MCA are called I Pity The Fool and Turn On Your Love Light. Still a popular act, after triple heart-bypass surgery '95 he was still at it, his band at Marina City's House of Blues in Chicago '96 including trumpeter/leader Joe Hardin, Morris Atchison on tenor sax, Ray Heal on guitar.