b. Robert Calvin Brooks, 27th January 1930, Rosemark, Tennessee, U.S.A.
d. 23rd June 2013, Memphis Tennessee, U.S.A.
Bobby Bland successfully merged Soul and Blues, giving his material an additional Gospel flavour.
He was born in Rosemark, Tennessee, later relocating to Memphis, where he began singing with some local gospel groups, including The Miniatures.
the beale streeters
Bobby visited Beale Street where he met the Beale Streeters, whose line up included Johnny Ace, Earle Lacy Forrest, Rosco Gordon, Tuff Green, B. B. King, Bobby 'Blue' Bland and Junior Parker.
His early recordings saw the light of day in the Fifties, only being interrupted by a stint in the U.S. Army.
He returned to Memphis after serving his national service and, in 1956, he began touring with Junior Parker.
Bobby acted as a chauffeur for a while, for the likes of B. B. King and Rosco Gordon.
'it's my life baby' b/w 'time out' - 1955 / 'i learned my lesson' b/w 'i don't believe' - 1956
He began releasing his own 45’s, including ‘Farther Up the Road’ (in 1957) and ‘Little Boy Blue’ (in 1958).
The latter reached the U.S. R&B Top 10.
two steps from the blues - 1961 / here's the man - 1962 / that's the way love is - 1963 / ain't nothing you can do - 1964
His Sixties recordings showcased a maturing style, showcased by several successful sides, including ‘Cry Cry Cry’, ‘I Pity The Fool’ and ‘Turn On Your Love Light’.
Bobby continued to chart during that decade with several R&B chart entries.
‘Ain't Nothing You Can Do’ reached number 20 on the mainstream charts, whilst many of Bobby’s other records mostly sold on the R&B market.
Bobby achieved 23 Top Ten hits on the Billboard R&B charts.
By 1968, Bobby’s group had disbanded and he began suffering from depression.
Bobby began having alcohol issues, which he came to terms with by 1971.
his california dream - 1973 / dreamer - 1974 / get on down with bobby bland - 1975 / reflections in blue - 1977
His record imprint, Duke, was sold by it’s owner Don Robey to ABC Records, which in turn resulted in some fine mid Seventies releases, including ‘His California Album’’, Dreamer’ and ‘Reflections in Blue’, which were all recorded in Los Angeles.
The single ‘This Time I'm Gone For Good’ took Bobby into the pop Top 50 for the first time since 1964 and reached the R&B top 10 in late 1973.
The album ‘Dreamer’ showcased one of Bobby’s most enduring songs“, “namely ‘Ain't No Love In the Heart of the City’.
The song is also featured on the soundtrack of the 2011 movie ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ (which starred Matthew McConaughey).
The single ‘I Wouldn't Treat A Dog’ became his biggest R&B hit in many years, reaching number 3 in 1974.
portrait of the blues - 1991 / years of tears - 1993
In 1985, Bobby signed by Malaco Records, where he recorded a series of albums, and continued to tour.
Bobby performed with the likes of the blues singer B. B. King (an artist whom Bobby had produced recorded material the previous decade).
He continued to tour and perform despite age related health issues.
Bobby was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981.
He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.
with 'Little' Junior Parker:
Blues Consolidated (Duke Records 1958)
with Parker: Barefoot Rock And You Got Me (Duke Records 1960)
Two Steps From The Blues (Duke Records 1961)
Here's The Man!!! (Duke Records 1962)
Call On Me (Duke Records 1963)
Ain't Nothin' You Can Do (Duke Records 1964)
The Soul Of The Man (Duke Records 1966)
Touch Of The Blues (Duke Records 1967)
Spotlighting The Man (Duke Records 1968)
His California Album (Dunhill Records 1973)
Dreamer (Dunhill Records 1974)
with B.B. King:
Together For The First Time - Live (Dunhill Records 1974)
Get On Down With Bobby Bland (ABC Records 1975)
with King: Together Again - Live (ABC Records 1976)
Reflections In Blue (ABC Records 1977)
Come Fly With Me (ABC Records 1978)
I Feel Good I Feel Fine (MCA Records 1979)
Sweet Vibrations (MCA Records 1980)
You Got Me Loving You (MCA Records 1981)
Try Me, I'm Real (MCA Records 1981)
Here We Go Again (MCA Records 1982)
Tell Mr Bland (MCA Records 1983)
Members Only (Malaco Records 1985)
After All (Malaco Records 1986)
Blues You Can Use (Malaco Records 1987)
Midnight Run (Malaco Records 1989)
Portrait Of The Blues (Malaco Records 1991)
Years Of Tears (Malaco Records 1993)
Sad Street (Malaco Records 1995)
That Did It!: The Duke Recordings 3 (MCA Records 1996)
Just One More Step (601 Records 1998)
Live on Beale Street (Malaco Records 1998)
Memphis Monday Morning (Malaco Records 1998)
Blues At Midnight (Malaco Records 2003)