[The Washington Post]

Bobby 'Blue' Bland

Bobby “Blue” Bland, a singer who became one of the most popular, electrifying and influential rhythm-and-blues entertainers in the late 20th century and who modernized the genre by blending elements of traditional blues, gospel and pop balladry, died June 23 at his home in Memphis. He was 83.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said his wife, Willie Martin Bland.

If Mr. Bland lacked the pop-music name recognition of B.B. King and Ray Charles, that did not make him any less influential as an artist. Many of Mr. Bland’s recordings, such as the blues “Further On Up the Road”(1957), later covered by Eric Clapton, and the gospel-flavored “Turn On Your Love Light” (1961), covered by the Grateful Dead, became rock music standards.

Van Morrison, who covered Mr. Bland’s 1964 hit “Ain’t Nothing You Can Do,” often cited him as a seminal influence, and the two singers later recorded together. Mr. Bland’s version of T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday,” with an extended solo from guitarist Wayne Bennett, inspired a later version by the Allman Brothers Band. Rapper Jay-Z recently sampled Mr. Bland’s 1974 recording “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” on his 2001 album “The Blueprint.”