Known as the "Lion of the Blues" or the "Sinatra of the Blues," for his ability to sing smooth ballads as well as shout the low-down blues, Bobby Blue Bland started singing gospel in Memphis.
He joined the group called the Beale Streeters, whose members at various times included of B.B. King, Rosco Gordon and Johnny Ace.
Bland served as B.B. King's chauffeur and valet for a time, and then had a hit R&B single with "Farther Up the Road" in 1957. He would go on to have 50 other singles charting in the R&B Top 40. Bland was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.
Bobby Blue Bland died Sunday, June 23. He was 83.
Listen for a tribute to Bobby Blue Bland on today's Blue Plate Special at noon on KPLU's Mid Day Jazz.