From January 1962 our Lost Treasure this week is on Duke Records. Robert Calvin Bland, better known as Bobby “Blue” Bland released his excellent take on the often recorded 1942 blues classic “Stormy Monday Blues” written by Earl “Fatha” Hines & Billy Eckstine as the B-side of his single “You’re Worth It All”. However, American R&B stations preferred the B-side of the record & it got considerable airplay in addition to the A-side. This led to the song getting re-released in August 1962 in an edited version of the original recording. The re-release incorrectly listed ‘A. Walker’ (T-Bone) as the author of the song.
“Blue” got his start in 1947 after moving to Memphis & joining gospel group The Miniatures. Intrigued by the Beale St. music scene, he quickly fell in with the musicians dominating the blues scene – BB King, Rosco Gordon, Johnny Ace & Jr Parker. Ike Turner produced Bobby’s first singles for the Modern label in 1951 but these were unsuccessful. They did come to the attention of Duke Records & he signed a record deal with them in spite of being unable to read or write. His career got put on hold in the early 50’s as he served his time in the US Army, but returned to Memphis & Duke Records by 1955 & began touring with Jr Parker. His first record success came in 1957 with “Farther Up The Road” backed by bandleader Bill Harveys’ group who helped him carve out his mellow big band blues sound. The hits continued placing on the R&B charts throughout the the first half of the 1960’s & getting airplay at the growing number of black-formatted radio stations throughout the States. He suffered a setback in the late 60’s as alcoholism & depression overtook his life, but by 1971 he was sober, mentally fit & ready to resume his career. He successfully released a number of blues & soul albums throughout the 1970’s for ABC/Dunhill, who had acquired the Duke label at the start of that decade. He also began to have charted hits once again & these continued into the 1980’s. By this time he was recording for blues specialty label Malaco Records while continuing to tour with BB King. His last hit charted in 1985. He continued to tour right up to his death at Memphis suburb Germantown TN in 2013 at age 83. Bland was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 & the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2012. His son Rodd – also a musician told news media after his father’s death that he was the half-brother of another famous blues musician – James Cotton. T-Bone Walker may have had the biggest hit among many many covers of this tune, but there’s no denying Bobby “Blue” Bland’s dramatic take on “Stormy Monday Blues”. Thanks for spending your weekend with Puget Sound Media ‘where your friends are!’