Bill Blue was an internationally acclaimed blues musician whose musical roots brought him to Key West in the 1980s. Blue died July 15 after a battle with throat cancer. The photos above are taken from his last album cover “Mojolation” in 2013. RALPH DE PALMA/Soul of Key West

(Editor’s Note: In tribute to the late musician Bill Blue, who died July 15 after a battle with cancer, the Key West Weekly is republishing a Ben Solove tribute column from April 2021 with edits and updates. minor days.)

Bill Blue was a Key West musical icon. The blues master moved to the island from Virginia in the early ’80s, when he began his journey to becoming the modern godfather of the Key West music scene. Over the decades, Blue has entertained thousands of locals and tourists. One of the best slide guitarists in the world, he dazzled crowds from the Green Parrot to the Key West Theater while playing in every venue along the way. His memorable performances as part of the Sunday Ramble, as well as his concert performances with a full band at the Key West Theater are legendary. Blue’s lasting influence on Key West’s musical history is evident.

In 2019, Blue started having issues with her voice. He was losing his voice for some reason, but continued to perform and showcase his brilliant songwriting and guitar work. Doctors were puzzled as to the cause of her vocal struggles, until they discovered a tumor in her throat. Surgery was required, and as a tragic result, surgeons had to remove Blue’s voice box.

Blue’s label, Conch Town Music, hosted a benefit concert – Bill Blue’s Most Outstanding Benefit Concert – in April 2021 at the Key West Amphitheater to help and honor the legendary bluesman. The show featured a star-studded lineup of local musicians eager to pay tribute to one of their heroes.

“We all know Bill as an elder, an icon in the Key West music community,” said Conch Town Records recording artist Ericson Holt, who headlined the show. “He was an established headliner with an international following when I started in the business, and I’m grateful my path eventually led me to Key West and playing on the excellent recordings he made. here for the past few years.”

Blue’s last two albums “Mojolation” (2013) and “The King of Crazy Town” (2020) are exceptional blues albums. Both were produced by Ian Shaw of Conch Town Music.