Bobby Bland, RIP

One of the legends of 20th century music just passed - Bobby “Blue” Bland dead at 83.

These days Bland is known best as someone other people covered - “Further On Down the Road,” “Turn on Your Love Light” - or sampled (Jay-Z sampled “Ain’t No Love in the Heart in the City,” and that in turn became a widely aired car commercial.)

He fell a bit between the cracks – too pop for blues purists, too bluesy to be immediately categorized with the up-and-coming soul stars of the 50s and 60s.

But the 60s records he made for Duke with producer/arranger Joe Scott were perfect R&B records for their era, a mixture of sublte sophistication and down-home grit. They were enormously influential, just as much as those by Ray Charles or James Brown. Countless soul and rock acts for the next decade or three owed a debt to him.

Check out the album “Two Steps from the Blues” as a place to start.

I was never a big fan as I was one of those who felt he was too slick, but RIP nonetheless.

Saw him perform live at my alma mater (The Long Beach Blues festival at Long Beach State). Alas that the artists from the great blues era are slowly passing away. Rest in peace.