Bobby “Blue” Bland died yesterday at 83, and the ranks of the legendary blues singers were thinned measurably as a result.
Over his long career he wrote some of the great R&B songs, including timeless efforts like Further On Up The Road and Turn On Your Love Light. I was introduced to his music by Eric Clapton, who played an exceptional Further On Up The Road filled with awesome guitar work. When I heard Clapton’s live introduction to the song — simply, “this is a song by Bobby Blue Bland called Further On Up The Road” — I knew I had to listen to the artist who wrote such a fantastic song. My guess is that many rock ‘n roll fans who loved Clapton, Led Zeppelin, and other rockers who played the blues were introduced to Bobby “Blue” Bland and other blues artists in that same way.
Bland had a fabulous voice, deep and smoky and soulful. And, as the YouTube clip I’ve included above shows, he must have been a blast to share the stage with. The clip is part of a performance by Bobby “Blue” Bland and B.B. King on Soul Train, circa the mid-70s. From the basso intro by Don Cornelius to the vintage ’70s clothing to the stunning music, the clip is a classic — and a great reminder of Bland’s outsized talent.