Bobby Blue Bland 80th Birthday Bash with B.B. King, Bobby Rush, J. Blackfoot, Shirley Brown,Clarence Carter,Benny Latimore by Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms

Posted on 2/01/2010 by Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms

(Memphis, Tennessee) One of the world's most memorable blues shows was held this week in celebration of the 80th birthday of blues singer Bobby Blue Bland and his old friends and musical guests pulled out all the stops to honor him with songs and accolades. It all took place in Tunica, Mississippi, at Sam's Town casino. The line-up was most impressive and the performances and bands played flawlessly throughout the evening. At the end of the evening we were enthralled by songs from b.B King and Bobby bland and then a couple of songs from the birthday guest by himself. Having seen B.B. and Bobby in 1976 and playing with B.B. in Memphis in 1981 I was a bit concerned to see how the two had held up over this much time and I was genuinely moved by their great performances on this magic night.

The picture above is Junior Parker, Elvis and Bobby Blue Bland in 1957

The night began with rising BLUES star Grant Garland and a top notch band led by bobby Bland's son, Rodd, who is a frequent performer on Beale Street. Rodd was a member of Corey Osborn's band which I saw performing at B.B. King's before Corey's unfortunate demise.

Grant Garland, a rising Blues star, opens the show

Grant with his Mom and Dad, who sat next to me at the concert

Grant Garland clowns with his Dad after his set.

author with great Memphis drummer Harry Peel

My friend Marc Franklin on trumpet, Rodd Bland(Bobby's son) on drums, Grant Garland sings and plays guitar.

Here's a link to Grant's site:

Wolf Stephenson of Malaco Records makes a few remarks remembering Bobby Bland's contributions to this fine Mississippi record label. Afterwards the legendary Bobby Rush takes the stage and performs a few numbers.

Bobby Rush takes the stage

Bobby Rush honors Bobby Blue Bland

Bobby Rush, 74, used to swap sets with my band at the Club Paradise in Memphis in the early 1980's. It was one of many stops on what is called the Chitlin' Circuit. He is a genuinely kind man, a talented singer, accomplished harmonica player and one of the last of the great old school showmen. Despite a lifetime of hard traveling and an abundance of talent, he has gained notoriety primarily from his humor and his dancing girls in the past years. Simply stated, Bobby Rush entertains.

Bobby did not disappoint, bringing out his big-leg dancing girls

Next on the bill was keyboardist and singer, Benny Latimore, who performed several songs. Benny Latimore still wows the crowd at 71 years old and his work on the Yamaha Motif was very good, at one time he played guitar solos using the synthesizers' guitar voice. Latimore came back on several times during the night, playing keys to back up other artists including B.B. King.


Clarence Carter

Clarence Carter, who still sounds great at 74 years old, was born blind and graduated with a music degree from Alabama State College in 1960. His hits include several million sellers. Some of his better known songs include "Slip Away," "Too Weak to Fight," "Snatching It Back," "At The Dark End of the Street," "The Feeling Is Right," "Doing Our Thing" and "Patches." He performed his biggest hit, "Strokin'" to a very appreciative crowd.


Clarence Carter

Sold out crowd, Sam's Town, Tunica, MS, Riverplace Entertainment Center
These folks came to hear the BLUES!

My friend Pat Mitchell of the Blues Foundation's Blues Caravan

The Bland Family (Bobby's wife Willie May, his son and daughter, nieces and nephews) receives awards and proclamations from Memphis' WDIA radio, the State of Tennessee, The Congress of the United States, Shelby County, Tennessee, and the State of Mississippi honoring Bobby Blue Bland

Bobby Blue Bland and son, drummer Rodd Bland

Malaco recording artist, Floyd Taylor, son of Johnnie Taylor, takes the stage

Floyd Taylor

J. Blackfoot

Born John Colbert in Memphis in 1947, J. Blackfoot got his name walking barefoot on the hot tarred streets of Memphis as a child. As a teenager he spent time in jail after stealing a car.On his release, he spent six months as lead singer with a new line-up of The Barkays(after original members were killed with Otis redding in a plane crash). He then became the lead singer of the Soul Children, the Memphis-based group that scored 15 R & B hits between 1968 and 1978.

He launched a solo career as J. Blackfoot with the single 'Taxi,' which climbed into the R & B Top Ten in 1984.

J. Blackfoot came on stage with his voice sounding a tiny bit ragged, but after downing a bottle of water, he really poured it on in honor of his old friend, Bobby Bland. This man had a wicked sweet raspy voice, strong high notes and commands the audience like the old pro that he is. I last saw him at Willie Mitchell's Memorial service in Memphis two weeks ago and as he said, he sang Willie on out of this world. He is a remarkable talent.

J. Blackfoot wows the crowd with his hit, "Taxi."

Latimore backs up Shirley Brown

Shirley sings a soul-stirring "Happy Birthday" to Bobby Blue Bland

Taking the stage without his guitar, Lucille, B.B. King arrived to spend some time reminiscing with the crowd and his longtime friend, Bobby Bland. He met Bland in 1948 when he first came to Memphis from Mississippi and their loose-knit group, known as the Beale Streeters consisted of my late friend, Roscoe Gordon, Johnny Ace Alexander(who died on Christmas Day, 1954), and my mentor, B.B.'s drummer, Earl Forest.

That Dynamic Gentleman of the Blues, B.B. King

I met again this night with Bobby Bland as I was leaving the restroom and he and about 3 of his security team were coming in, pushing Bobby in a wheelchair and urging me outside. He looked up at me, smiled, and said, "How's it going, big man?" I wished him Happy Birthday and let him take care of his business. He is still warm, friendly and always takes a moment for friends and fans. This was one of his best nights in his life and I am delighted I could be there and share a little of it with you.

Bobby Bland is helped on stage. He asked for a lower chair so he could sit even with his old friend, B.B.King. The two cracked jokes for a long time and teased and kidded one another just as if it were still 1948 and they were all living at the Mitchell Hotel(now called Ernestine & Hazel's) on South Main in Memphis.

The two blues greats sing the classic, "If You're Gonna Walk On My Heart, Take Off Your Shoes" by Frederick Knight and Bettye Crutcher. Both men have recorded this tune.

Bobby Blue Bland 's smooth voice delivers "Stormy Monday" as nobody else can.

Bobby Bland ends the show with his hit, "Members Only."

Note the tremendous discography of this great BLUES singer which I have printed at the end of this article. He is not only prolific and beyond talented, literally caressing a song, but in the words of B.B. King, "Bobby is the most versatile of all the great blues singers. He can literally sing anything, blues, jazz, soul, you name it." Bobby Blue Bland is indubitably the finest BLUES singer it has ever been my pleasure to encounter in the past 51 years and I have heard a lot of them.

Bobby Bland recorded many sides at Duke and Peacock Records, which originated in Memphis, was sold to Don Robey and later moved to Houston, Texas. In the 1970's he went on to record for Dunhill and MCA Records and then in 1985 he began a long history with Malaco.

My longtime Beale Street friend and fellow lover of the BLUES, Barry Meyers
and his lovely escort from Ireland.

The author and Barry out on the town for the millionth time. What a great friend

Bobby Blue Bland's Discography

* Blues Consolidated - 1958 (Duke Records)
* Like Er Red Hot - 1960 (Duke Records)
* Two Steps from the Blues (Duke 1961/MCA 2002)
* Here's the Man! - 1962 (Duke Records)
* Call On Me - 1963 (Duke Records)
* Ain't Nothing You Can Do - 1964 (Duke Records)
* The Soul of The Man" - 1966 (Duke Records)
* Touch of The Blues - 1967 (Duke Records)
* The Best Of - 1967 (Duke Records)
* The Best Of Volume 2 - 1968 (Duke Records)
* Spotlighting The Man - 1969 (Duke Records)
* His California Album - 1973 (Dunhill Records)
* Dreamer - 1974 (Dunhill Records)
* Get On Down - 1975 (ABC Records)
* Together for the First Time(with B.B.King) - 1976 (ABC)
* Bobby Bland and B. B. King Together Again...Live - 1976 (ABC)
* Reflections In Blue - 1977 (ABC Records)
* Come Fly With Me - 1978 (MCA Records)
* I Feel Good - 1979 (MCA Records)
* Sweet Vibrations - 1980 (MCA 27076) Tribute to Joe Scott
* Here We Go Again - 1982 (MCA 5297)
* Members Only - 1985 (Malaco Records)
* After All - 1986 (Malaco Records)
* Blues You Can Use - 1987 (Malaco Records)
* Midnight Run-1989 (Malaco Records)
* Portrait of the Blues - 1991 (Malaco Records)
* Sad Street-1992 (Malaco Records)
* Years of Tears - 1993 (Malaco Records)
* Live On Beale Street-1995 (Malaco Records)
* Memphis Monday Morning-1998(Malaco Records)


* "Booted" / "I Love You Til The Day I Die" - 1951 *with Bobby "Blue"

Bland Chess Records
* "Crying All Night Long" / "Dry Up Baby" - 1952 (Chess Records)
* "Good Lovin'" / "Drifting From Town To Town" - 1952 (Chess Records)
* "Crying" / "A Letter From A Trench In Korea" - 1952 (Chess Records)
* "Lovin' Blues" / "I.O.U. Blues" - 1952 Duke Records
* "Army Blues" / "No Blow, No Show" - 1953 (Duke Records)
* "Time Out" / "It's My Life Baby" - 1955 (Duke Records)
* "You Or None" / "Woke Up Screaming" - 1955 (Duke Records)
* "I Can't Put You Down" / "You've Got Bad Intentions" - 1956 (Duke

* "I Learned My Lesson" / "Lead Us On" - 1956 (Duke Records)
* "I Learned My Lesson" / "I Don't Believe" - 1956 (Duke Records)
* "Don't Want No Woman" / "I Smell Trouble" - 1957 (Duke Records)
* "Farther Up The Road" / "Sometime Tomorrow" - 1957 (Duke Records)

(R&B 1/POP 43)
* "Teach Me" (How To Love You) / "Bobby's Blues" - 1957 (Duke

* "You Got Me Where You Want Me" / "Loan A Helping Hand" – 1958 (Duke

* "Little Boy Blue" / "Last Night" – 1958 (Duke Records) (10/-)
* "You Did Me Wrong" / "I Lost Sight Of The World" - 1959 (Duke

* "I'm Not Ashamed" / "Wishing Well" - 1959 (Duke Records) (13/-)
* "Is It Real" / "Someday" - 1959 (Duke Records) (28/-)
* "I'll Take Care Of You" / "That's Why" - 1959 (Duke Records) (2/89)
* "Lead Me On" / "Hold Me Tenderly" (Duke Records) (9/-)
* "Cry, Cry, Cry" / "I've Been Wrong So Long" - 1960 (Duke Records)

* "I Pity The Fool" / "Close To You" - 1961 (Duke Records) (1/46)
* "Don't Cry No More" / "How Does A Cheating Woman Feel" - 1961 (Duke

Records) (2/71)
* "Turn On Your Love Light" / "You're The One" (That I Need) - 1961

(Duke Records) (2/28)
* "Ain't That Loving You" / "Jelly, Jelly, Jelly" - 1961 (Duke

Records) (9/86)
* "Don't Cry No More" / "Saint James Infirmary" - 1961 (Duke Records)
* "Who Will The Next Fool Be" / "Blue Moon" - 1962 (Duke Records)

* "Love You Baby" / "Drifting" - 1962 (Kent)
* "Yield Not To Temptation" / "How Does A Cheating Woman Feel" - 1962

(Duke Records) (10/56)
* "Stormy Monday Blues" / "Your Friends" - 1962 (Duke Records) (5/43)
* "That's The Way Love Is" / "Call On Me" - 1962 (Duke Records)

* "Call On Me" / "That's The Way Love Is" - 1962 (Duke Records)

flipped over (5/22)
* "Sometimes You Gotta Cry A Little" / "You're Worth It All" - 1963

(Duke Records) (28/56)

another 20 singles that charted.....

* "Shoes" / "A Touch Of The Blues" - 1967 (Duke Records)
* "Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City" / "Twenty-Four Hour Blues"

- 1974 (ABC Dunhill Records)


©Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms, 2010
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