Bobby Blue Bland

Bobby Blue Bland 

“Two Steps From The Blues”
Remembering and appreciating Bobby Blue Bland
January 27, 1930 — June 23, 2013

Early life


Robert Calvin Brooks was born in Barretville, Tennessee. His stepfather, Leroy Bridgeforth was also called Leroy Bland and that became Bobby’s last name.


In his late teens, Bland started singing with gospel groups in Memphis where he lived with his mother. Memphis is, of course, the home of Beale Street and Bland gravitated there and found other young struggling musicians such as B.B. King, Rosco Gordon, Junior Parker, and Johnny Ace.


His early attempts at recording were not only unsuccessful, but interrupted by a stint in the Army.  He returned to Memphis and signed a contract with Duke Records. Unfortunately, the contract gave Bland a half cent per record sold, not the usual two cents. Bland signed such a contract because he had quit school and could not read.


Success “Farther On Up the Road”

bobby blue Bland


Bland slowly gained experience and in 1957 had an R & B #1 hit with “Farther  Up the Road” which also reached #43 on the (mainly white) Billboard Hot 100.


It should sound familiar to many of you!



Two Steps from the Blues

Bobby Blue Bland


It was on January 1, 1961 that Duke Records released Bland Two Steps from the Blues album, which like most albums of the time was mainly a collection of previously released singles. But what a collection it is!


AllMusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine says that “Two Steps from the Blues is the definitive Bobby “Blue” Bland album and one of the great records in electric blues and soul-blues. In fact, it’s one of the key albums in modern blues, marking a turning point when juke joint blues were seamlessly blended with gospel and Southern soul, creating a distinctly Southern sound where all of these styles blended so thoroughly it was impossible to tell where one began and one ended.”


Tracks:
Side One

  1. “Two Steps from the Blues” (Don D. Robey, John Riley Brown) 
  2. “Cry Cry Cry” (Don D. Robey) 
  3. “I’m Not Ashamed” (Don Robey, Joseph Scott)
  4. “Don’t Cry No More” (Don Robey)
  5. “Lead Me On” (Don D. Robey)
  6. “I Pity the Fool” (Deadric Malone)
Side Two

  1. “I’ve Just Got to Forget You” (Don D. Robey)
  2. “Little Boy Blue” (Charles Harper)
  3. “St. James Infirmary” (folk song; credited to Joe Primrose) 
  4. “I’ll Take Care of You”
  5. “I Don’t Want No Woman” (Don Robey)
  6. “I’ve Been Wrong So Long” (Don D. Robey, Ray Agee)

Bobby Blue Bland

One of the Greatest

Bland’s greatest financial success was during the early 60s, but he continued to perform the rest of his long life despite substance and health challenges.


He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2012, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.


Bobby Blue Bland


Bobby Blue Bland, Bobby Blue Bland, Bobby Blue Bland, Bobby Blue Bland, 

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January 27 Peace Love Activism

January 27 Peace Love Activism

Technological Milestones

Incandescent lamp

January 27 Peace Love Activism


January 27, 1880:  Thomas Edison received a patent for his electric incandescent lamp.  (see March 23, 1883)


Wireway

January 27 Peace Love Activism


January 27, 1948: Wire Recording Corporation of America announced the first magnetic tape recorder. The ‘Wireway’ machine with a built-in oscillator sold for $149.50. (see June 21)


iPad

January 27 Peace Love Activism January 27, 2010:  Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad tablet computer during a presentation in San Francisco. (Video via YouTube)


January 27 Peace Love Activism

Nuclear and Chemical Weapons/News

Frenchman Flat

January 27 Peace Love Activism

January 27, 1951:  the era of US atomic testing in the Nevada desert began as an Air Force plane dropped a one-kiloton bomb on Frenchman Flat. (video via YouTube) (see Mar 6)


Space treaty

January 27, 1967:  President Johnson and counterparts in London and Moscow signed the “Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space.” Signatories agree, among other points, that outer space will remain demilitarized (including nuclear weapons), no territorial claims on earth orbit or any planetary bodies will be made and that astronauts or cosmonauts who find themselves landing off course will be returned to their home countries. (see Feb 14)


January 27 Music et al

John Coltrane

January 27, 1960: John Coltrane released “Giant Steps” album, considered a classic jazz album and one that saxophonists still measure themselves by today. The Penguin Guide.


Peppermint Twist

January 27 – Feb 16 – “Peppermint Twist” by Joey Dee & the Starlighters #1 Billboard Hot 100.



Instant Karma

January 27, 1970: John Lennon wrote and recorded “Instant Karma” In his words, “I wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch and we’re putting it out for dinner.” It became the third Lennon single to appear before the official breakup of the Beatles. The only exaggeration in John’s description was the part about dinner: wasn’t actually released to the public until Feb 6. (see Instant Karma for more) (next Beatles, see Mar 8)

January 27 Peace Love Activism

BLACK HISTORY

Adam Crosswhite

January 27, 1847: more than 100 citizens of Marshall, Michigan, helped Adam Crosswhite and his family, who had escaped slavery, to flee to Canada rather than be captured by bounty hunters. Crosswhite and his family had fled a Kentucky plantation after he learned his four children were going to be sold. When a deputy sheriff arrived, he wound up arresting the bounty hunters, rather than the Crosswhite family, which made it safely to Canada. Later, the family returned to Marshall. Crosswhite’s escape played a part in the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. (see Feb 16)

see Montgomery Bus Boycott for expanded story

January 27, 1956: ML King received a threatening phone call. (next BH, see Feb 2)


Medgar W. Evers assassination

January 27, 1964: The State prosecution accepted a full slate of white men to sit as a jury in the case of Byron De La Beckwith, accused of the rifle slaying of Medgar W. Evers on June 12, 1963.  (BH, see Jan 31; ME, see Feb 5)


see George Whitmore, Jr for expanded story

January 27, 1965: The New York Times quotes an unnamed assistant to NY County DA Frank Hogan as saying, “I am positive that the police prepared the confession for George Whitmore, Jr., just as his lawyer charged a few days ago. I am also sure that the police were the ones who gave Whitmore all the details of the killings that he recited to our office.” 


Robert Lacey, Black and shot

January 27 Peace Love Activism

January 27, 1967:Jefferson County, Alabama sheriff deputies went to the home of Robert Lacey, a black father of six, because Mr. Lacey had failed to take the family dog to the veterinarian after it bit a neighborhood child. The health department had instructed the family to take the dog in for a rabies test, but the family did not own a car and had no means of transporting the animal.


The deputies knocked at the door as Mr. Lacey was getting out of the shower, and when he answered the door they told him to get dressed and go with them. Mr. Lacey asked why and told the deputies to just take the dog. The deputies said they weren’t interested in the dog and told him to get dressed. As Mr. Lacey was doing so, a gun he kept in his dresser fell to the floor. In response, the deputies pushed Mr. Lacey against the wall and attempted to handcuff him. Mr. Lacey offered to walk to the car with them, but one of the deputies said, “Boy, you gonna leave here with handcuffs on, dead or alive.”


Mr. Lacey was a large man; as the deputies attempted to wrestle him down, one of them fell to the ground and the other then shot Mr. Lacey in the leg. The deputies later claimed Mr. Lacey lunged at them before the second shot, but Mr. Lacey’s family insisted Mr. Lacey fell to the ground before the deputy shot him again, “between the eyes.” Neighbors who ran to the house after the shooting were instructed by police to move the body before the coroner arrived.


Lacey’s death marked the second black man killed by Jefferson County law enforcement within nine days, and would be one of ten total law enforcement killings of black men in the Birmingham, Alabama, area within a 14 month period spanning from 1966 to 1967. (see Feb 6)


Eldon Avenue Axle Plant Revolutionary Union Movement

January 27, 1969: a group of Detroit African-American auto workers known as the Eldon Avenue Axle Plant Revolutionary Union Movement led a wildcat strike against racism and bad working conditions. They were critical of both automakers and the UAW, condemning the seniority system and grievance procedures as racist.  (LH, see Dec 31; BH, see Mar 10)


Irene Morgan

January 27 Peace Love Activism


On July 16, 1944 Irene Morgan, 27, recovering from a miscarriage, and traveling by bus from Virginia to Baltimore for a doctor’s appointment, refused to relinquish her seat [as well as another black woman] to a white couple.


The driver, angered by Morgan’s refusal, drove the bus to the Middlesex County town of Saluda and stopped outside the jail. A sheriff’s deputy came aboard and told Morgan that he had a warrant for her arrest. She continued to refuse and had to be physically subdued. She was jailed for resisting arrest and violating Virginia’s segregation law.  


On June 3, 1946, in Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia, the U.S Supreme Court (6 – 1 decision) found in favor of Irene Morgan, calling segregated seating on interstate buses an “impermissible burden on interstate commerce.”


On January 27, 2001: President Bill Clinton presented the Presidential Citizens Medal to Irene Morgan. (2007 NYT obit) (see Feb 21)

January 27 Peace Love Activism

Vietnam

Policy failing

January 27, 1965: President Johnson received a memorandum stating that the current Vietnam policy was clearly not working. The Viet Cong were on the move and on the rise and supplied by North Vietnam. The South Vietnam government was unstable as well. (see Feb 7)


Anti-Vietnam War ads

January 27, 1968: the subways and elevated trains in Chicago began allowing anti-Vietnam War ads on this day. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) had refused to carry the ads for two years. The Illinois ACLU sued on behalf of the Chicago Women for Peace and the North Shore Women for Peace, chapters of the Women Strike for Peace organizations. The federal judge dismissed the suit when the CTA capitulated and agreed to carry the ads. The ad, addressed to President Lyndon Johnson, read: “War is Not Peace. Tyranny is Not Freedom. Hate is Not Love. End the War in Vietnam.” (see Jan 29)


Paris Peace Accords

January 27 Peace Love Activism

January 27, 1973: representatives of the United States, North Vietnam, and South Vietnam signed the Paris Peace Accords, ending the Vietnam War. The United States’s chief negotiator, Dr. Henry Kissinger, was awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in concluding the treaty and ending hostilities. (see Jan 28)

January 27 Peace Love Activism

Space Race

January 27 Peace Love Activism


January 27, 1967: a fire during routine testing of the Apollo spacecraft (scheduled to be the first manned mission of the Apollo manned lunar landing program, with a target launch date of February 21, 1967) killed three astronauts — Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chafee — in their capsule.


Immediately after the fire, NASA convened the Apollo 204 Accident Review Board to determine the cause of the fire. Although the ignition source was never conclusively identified, the astronauts’ deaths were attributed to a wide range of lethal design and construction flaws in the early Apollo Command Module. The manned phase of the project was delayed for 20 months while these problems were corrected. (Washington Post 50th anniversary article) (see Apr 20)

 


January 27 Peace Love Activism

Watergate Scandal


January 27, 1975: in the wake of the Watergate scandal and the attendant abuses of power by the Nixon administration, and also recent revelations of illegal CIA spying on Americans [in The New York Times on December 22, 1974], the Senate created the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with respect to the Intelligence Agencies. Known as the Church Committee after its chair, Senator Frank Church (D–Idaho), the committee held public hearings about abuses by the intelligence agencies, and eventually published 14 reports on violations of the rights of American citizens by the intelligence agencies. The vote to create the committee was 82–4, indicating the depth of disgust over alleged abuses by the FBI and the CIA in the Senate.


The Church Committee reports are still an extremely valuable resource on the history of violations of American rights in the twentieth century. The Church Committee was paralleled by the Pike Committee, created by the House of Representatives on February 19, 1975. Following the revelations about the CIA by the Times, President Gerald Ford tried to head off Congressional investigations by creating the Rockefeller Commission to investigate the CIA on January 4, 1975, but that effort failed when Congress created the two committees.


The Church Committee hearings created sensation after sensation, with revelations of CIA assassination plots, and more. The Church Committee reports are still an invaluable source of information about the abuses of the CIA, the FBI, and other federal agencies. The reports also document the involvement of presidents, both Republican and Democratic, in approving many if not most of the abuses by the intelligence agencies. (see Watergate for its expanded story)


January 27 Peace Love Activism

LGBTQ

January 27, 1977: the Vatican reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on female priests. (see Mar 26)


FREE SPEECH

January 27, 1978: the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the Illinois Appellate Court and the Circuit Court of Cook County’s grant of Injunctive Relief in favor of the Village of Skokie and against the Nazi group headed by Frank Collin. The Nazis were free to March in Skokie pending resolution of the federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of the Nazis. (see Feb 23)


Jack Kevorkian

January 27, 1994: Michigan Judge Jessica R. Cooper of Oakland County Circuit Court dismissed charges against Jack Kevorkian in two deaths, becoming the fifth lower court judge in Michigan to rule that assisted suicide was a constitutional right. (see May 2)


January 27 Peace Love Activism

CLINTON IMPEACHMENT

Paula Jones

January 27, 1998: Paula Jones’ attorney, John Whitehead, answered Starr’s subpoena with several documents, possibly including Clinton’s deposition in the Jones suit. Clinton personal secretary, Betty Currie testified before the grand jury. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton says in a broadcast interview that a “vast right-wing conspiracy” was behind the charges against her husband. A Portland, Ore., man, Andy Bleiler, alleged he had a five-year affair with Lewinsky, and his lawyer promises to turn over documents and items to Starr’s investigators. Clinton delivers his State of the Union address, making no mention of the scandal.

Senate votes

January 27, 1999: in twin 56-44 votes, the Senate refused to dismiss the charges against President Clinton and agreed to seek depositions from Monica Lewinsky, Vernon Jordan and Sidney Blumenthal. (see Clinton for expanded story)


January 27 Peace Love Activism

Immigration History

January 27, 2011: a federal jury convicted Matthew Nestor, a former Pennsylvania police officer, of the most serious charge against him in what prosecutors said was a cover-up of the beating death of a Luis Ramirez, a Mexican immigrant. The jury delivered a less severe verdict against a second officer and acquitted a third.


The former officers, Matthew Nestor, Jason Hayes and William Moyer, were accused of helping a group of white teenage football players cover up their parts in the death of Luis Ramírez, an illegal Mexican immigrant who was fatally beaten in July 2008 in Shenandoah, Pa.


Nestor, the former Shenandoah police chief, was found guilty of falsifying records, a charge that could bring up to 20 years in prison, but he was acquitted of conspiracy. Moyer, a former Shenandoah lieutenant, was convicted of lying to the F.B.I., but acquitted of all other counts, including obstruction of justice, and he faces up to five years in prison. Hayes, a former patrolman, was acquitted of all charges. (IH & Ramirez, see June 1)


Refugees denied entry

January 27, 2017: President Trump suspended entry of all refugees to the US for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.


The Department of Homeland Security said that the order also barred green card holders from those countries from re-entering the United States. (BBC piece) (see Jan 28)


January 27 Peace Love Activism
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