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Bobby 'Blue' Bland, The 'Sinatra Of The Blues,' Dies

Bobby "Blue" Bland at the 2011 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Rick Diamond
Getty Images
Bobby "Blue" Bland at the 2011 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
LISTEN: A bit of 'Turn on Your Love Light'

Bobby "Blue" Bland, the "Sinatra of the blues" who sang such classics as "Turn On Your Love Light" and "Further On Up The Road," has died. He was 83.

According to The Associated Press: "Rodd Bland said his father died due to complications from an ongoing illness at his Memphis, Tenn., home. He was surrounded by relatives."

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame writes of Bland, an inductee, that his "painstakingly crafted records featured his deliberate, resolute vocals set over a backdrop of dazzling horn fanfares, supple rhythm parts and Wayne Bennett's T-Bone Walker–style guitar." It adds:

"The quality of the records was stunning, and Bland's vocals were the centerpiece. He projected warmth and intimacy, but he could also growl and howl. As a measure of his considerable appeal to black audiences, Bland placed an amazing 51 singles on the R&B Top 40. However, he crossed over into the pop-oriented Top 40 singles chart only four times and never got higher than Number 20 (with 'Ain't Nothing You Can Do,' in 1964)."

The AP notes that "Bland was a contemporary of B.B. King's, serving as the blues great's valet and chauffeur at one point, and was one of the last of the living connections to the roots of the genre."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.