Blues-soul great Bobby "Blue" Bland died in Mississippi on Sunday at age 83.
Bland, who scored a steady stream of hits like "Further On Up The Road," "I Pity The Fool," "Cry, Cry, Cry" and "Two Steps From The Blues." in the late 1950s and 1960s for the Duke label, is a key figure, along Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, in making music that fused blues and gospel grit with R & B sophistication.
His innovative niche, in particular, was to meld the swagger of big band jazz with a vocal delivery that combined the earthiness of the most emotive blues with a stylish elan that owed a debt to Frank Sinatra and Nat 'King" Cole.
Hip-hop fans are familiar with Bland's voice, if not his name: His 1974 hit "Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City," was sampled by producer Kanye West on Jay-Z's "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)" on the 2001 album The Blueprint. "Turn On Your Love Light," from 1961, was widely covered, by Van Morrison, the Grateful Dead, and the Rascals, among others.
"I Pity The Fool," "Cry, Cry, Cry" and "Ain't No Love" are below.