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Bobby Blue Bland Bobby Blue Bland

In the 50s and early 60s, Bobby “Blue” Bland was one of the main creators of the modern soul-blues sound. Along with such artists as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Junior Parker, Bland developed a sound that mixed gospel with blues and R&B. Bobby's style of soul-blues was punctuated with a big-band sound and slick, B.B. King-flavored guitar riffs.

Bland was born on January 27, 1930 in Rosemark, Tennessee. a small town just outside Memphis. In 1947 he moved to the city with his mother and began his career, first as a singer in the gospel group the Miniatures, then in the loosely knit blues group the Beale Streeters, which included such future blues stars as Johnny Ace, B.B. King, Junior Parker, and Rosco Gordon.

Bland's first recordings were from 1950 to 1952, when he cut sides for the Modern and Chess labels. Being drafted into the army in 1952 put his career on hold, but shortly after his discharge in 1954, he began a long-term relationship with Duke Records. This would result in dozens of records, many of them big sellers in the R&B market.

Bobby's first Duke single, “It's My Life, Baby,” was released in 1955. Two years later, he scored with the seminal Texas shuffle “Farther On Up The Road,” which went to number 1 on the R&B charts. Follow-up records included two 1961 hits, “I Pity the Fool,” which also made it to number 1 on the R&B charts, and “Turn on Your Love Light,” which went to number 2. “That's the Way Love Is,” a 1963 release, gave Bland his third number 1 hit. His record “Two Steps from the Blues,” (1961) is considered a classic, and a definitive example of the soul blues style which he masters.

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