Tag Archives: Bobby Blue Bland

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.”

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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Happy New Year Happy New Music

Happy New Year Happy New Music

The 1960s was a great decade for January music

John Coltrane’s Giant Steps

In January 1960: John Coltrane released his “Giant Steps” album, considered a classic jazz album and one that saxophonists still measure themselves by today. Linsey Planer at AllMusic.com writesHistory will undoubtedly enshrine this disc as a watershed the likes of which may never truly be appreciated. Giant Steps bore the double-edged sword of furthering the cause of the music as well as delivering it to an increasingly mainstream audience.”

Take a listen to this amazing music!


Two Steps from the Blues Bobby “Blue” Bland

In January 1961: Bobby Blue Bland released Two Steps from the Blues album. Bland was an original member of the Beale Streeters and was sometimes referred to as the “Lion of the Blues”. Along with such artists as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Junior Parker, Bland developed a sound that mixed gospel with the blues and R&B. An imitator of Frank Sinatra, he was also known as the “Sinatra of the blues”, his music being influenced by Nat King Cole. Bland was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

Bob Dylan and John Birch

In January 1962 Bob Dylan wrote  “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues

Well, I was feelin’ sad and feelin’ blue
I didn’t know what in the world I wus gonna do
Them Communists they wus comin’ around
They wus in the air
They wus on the ground
They wouldn’t gimme no peace . . . So I run down most hurriedly
And joined up with the John Birch Society
I got me a secret membership card
And started off a-walkin’ down the road
Yee-hoo, I’m a real John Bircher now!
Look out you Commies! Now we all agree with Hitler’s views
Although he killed six million Jews
It don’t matter too much that he was a Fascist
At least you can’t say he was a Communist!
That’s to say like if you got a cold you take a shot of malaria Well, I wus lookin’ everywhere for them gol-darned Reds
I got up in the mornin’ ’n’ looked under my bed
Looked in the sink, behind the door
Looked in the glove compartment of my car
Couldn’t find ’em . . . I wus lookin’ high an’ low for them Reds everywhere
I wus lookin’ in the sink an’ underneath the chair
I looked way up my chimney hole
I even looked deep down inside my toilet bowl
They got away . . .
Well, I wus sittin’ home alone an’ started to sweat
Figured they wus in my T.V. set
Peeked behind the picture frame
Got a shock from my feet, hittin’ right up in the brain
Them Reds caused it!
I know they did . . . them hard-core ones Well, I quit my job so I could work all alone
Then I changed my name to Sherlock Holmes
Followed some clues from my detective bag
And discovered they wus red stripes on the American flag!
Ol’ Betsy Ross . . . Well, I investigated all the books in the library
Ninety percent of ’em gotta be throwed away
I investigated all the people that I knowed
Ninety-eight percent of them gotta go
The other two percent are fellow Birchers . . . just like me Now Eisenhower, he’s a Russian spy
Lincoln, Jefferson and that Roosevelt guy
To my knowledge there’s just one man
That’s really a true American: George Lincoln Rockwell
I know for a fact he hates Commies cus he picketed the movie Exodus Well, I fin’ly started thinkin’ straight
When I run outa things to investigate
Couldn’t imagine doin’ anything else
So now I’m sittin’ home investigatin’ myself!
Hope I don’t find out nothing . . . good God!

Beatles audition

January 1, 1962: The Beatles and Brian Poole and the Tremeloes both auditioned at Decca Records, a company which has the option of signing one group only. Decca told The Beatles that “guitar groups” were on the way out and did not offer them a contract and signed The Tremeloes instead. Other record companies turned the Beatles down as well. One of the songs the Beatles sang was Hello Little Girl, the first song written by John Lennon (in 1957).

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Beatles tour Scotland

January 1, 1963, The Beatles began a concert tour of Scotland.

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Albert Ayler

January Music et al

In January 1965: Albert Ayler’s Spiritual Unity album released. “Ayler was among the most primal of the free jazz musicians of the 1960s; critic John Litweiler wrote that ‘never before or since has there been such naked aggression in jazz.’ He possessed a deep blistering tone—achieved by using the stiff plastic Fibrecane no. 4 reeds on his tenor saxophone—and used a broad, pathos-filled vibrato.” (AllMusic Review by Steve Huey)

Sounds of Silence

January 1 – 7, 1966: “The Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. (see Wednesday Morning 3am)

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Roots of Rock

January 1, 1967: FM stations were no longer allowed to simply simulcast their AM counterpart. Birth of “underground “ rock radio.

John Lennon/FBI

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In January 1972: the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened a file on John Lennon and Yoko Ono fearing they would organize the youth vote and prevent a second term for President Richard Nixon. (see Feb 4)

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John and Yoko

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In January 1975: John and Yoko reunited after 18 month separation—the so-called “Lost Weekend.” (see Jan 9)

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