Bobby "Blue" Bland Dead at 83

The Memphis blues legend died due to complications from an undisclosed illness.

Posted: 06/24/2013 11:32 AM EDT

The world lost a music legend on Sunday as Bobby “Blue” Bland died at 83 years old.

Known as "the Lion of the Blues," Bland ushered in the blending of Southern blues and soul in songs like "Turn on Your Love Light" and "Further on Up the Road," proving to be a true pioneer in the world of music.

According to the Associated Press, the legend’s son, Rodd Bland, said that his father died at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Saturday (June 23) due to complications from an ongoing illness at his Memphis, TN, residence. He was surrounded by relatives during his last hours.

Also referred to as "the Sinatra of the blues," Bland was a vocal beast in his own right. Known for his silky smooth vocals and extravagant arrangements, Bland’s musical style heavily imitated that of Nat King Cole. Immortalizing his admiration for Frank Sinatra, Bland even recreated a classic image of the singer on the "Two Steps From the Blues" album cover, standing in front of a building with a coat tossed over his shoulder.

"He brought a certain level of class to the blues genre,” said Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, son of renowned musician and producer Willie Mitchell.

Bland had been using a wheelchair since 2008 to limit his walking. However, during his performances he would occasionally stand up as he did during his induction performance at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in November. 

Revered for his selfless and humble demeanor, Bland was considered a kind soul by both his peers and admirers alike.

"He’s always been the type of guy that if he could help you in any way, form or fashion, he would," Rodd Bland said.

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, Bland was the second in rank only to fellow blues great B.B. King as a product of the Memphis’ Beale Street blues scene.

Transcending his well earned idolatry to younger generations, Bland’s 1974 classic "Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City" was sampled in the Jay-Z hit "Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)," produced by Kanye West.

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(Photo: AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Nikki Boertman)


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