Last week as I was bringing you my latest update I became aware of the death of yet another two soul legends – Mary Love & Bobby “Blue” Bland. I couldn’t let this week pass without paying some sort of tribute to such great artists.
I’m sure many of you have heard of Bland and there has been plenty written about him over the years – and certainly in more depth than I could match so I’ll keep my comments quite short. For me, Bland deserved his place amongst the greats and alongside Ray Charles was one of the most important figures in the early r&b sound. Like Charles, he didn’t just stick to one style of music. Originally his music would probably have been thought of as blues, but he was to fuse this with soul, r&b and gospel. Some of his later works also had quite a funky edge to them showing his versatility as a singer. His influence was such that artists like Van Morrison, Steve Marriott and even Mick Hucknall tried to base their vocal style on Bland (in fact Hucknall recorded a tribute album to him in 2008)
Sadly Bland was to pass away after what his family had described as an ongoing illness – he was 83.
Mary Love was somewhat lesser known than Bland, but still a very talented singer in her own right. She was very highly regarded amongst soul fans and collectors and was especially popular on the Northern Soul scene. Like Bland she never achieved any real success on the “pop” charts but did have minor hits on the r&b charts. Sadly, Mary passed away on 21 June at the age of 69. Today’s song selection is one of my personal faves and is one of my favourite examples of what many would describe as “Sister Funk”
I should also give a brief mention to Jim Kelly who starred alongside Bruce Lee in “Enter The Dragon” and who was to perform the leading role in one of my favourite blaxploitation films “Black Belt Jones” (which had a fantastic soundtrack courtesy of Dennis Coffey). Jim passed away a couple of days ago after a battle with cancer. Gazfunk would like to share our condolences with the families & friends of Bobby, Mary & Jim. R.I.P.
On a lighter note, I’d just like to remind everyone that I will be dj’ing this Saturday at the Mostly Jazz Festival in Birmingham. The festival will feature the likes of Chic, Candi Staton, Soul II Soul, Haggis Horns, Smoove & Turrell & Hypnotic Brass Ensemble among others. I can confirm that the tickets for Saturday have now SOLD OUT! Hope to see some of you there…