LOS ANGELES - Bobby “Blue” Bland, the soul and blues balladeer behind hits such as “Stormy Monday Blues,” “That’s the Way Love Is” and “Turn on Your Love Light,” died Sunday in Memphis. He was 83.
His son Rodd told the Associated Press that the singer died from complications of an ongoing illness.
Bland was revered as a pioneer of modern blues and soul with a career that stretched back to the early blues and R&B sound that was brewing out of the South in the late 1940s.
Often called “The Lion of the Blues” and the “Sinatra of the Blues” - due to being heavily influenced by Frank Sinatra - Bland packed elements of gospel, blues, pop, country, jazz and R&B into emotionally raw performances that became a standard for the genre.
Bland might have never achieved the crossover and radio success of peers such as Ray Charles and B.B. King - who he even imitated in early recordings - but he remained a fixture on the R&B charts and tour circuit for decades and is one of the top 25 bestselling R&B artists of modern times.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and received a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 1997.