Big in Iowa. Big everywhere.

Bob Burns was the lead singer and main songwriter in a roots rock band back in the 90s. They were called Big in Iowa, even though Bob hailed from Hamilton, Ohio. They were big in Cincinnati, and even did a bit of international touring. But Big in Iowa never became big in Iowa (or the rest of the country for that matter), probably because they were a bunch of hefty, average Joe lads from the paper and steel mill towns near Cincy. They didn’t have, as Roxette would call it, “The Look.” (Yes, that’s the first, and we hope only, reference to Roxette in this blog.)

Bob got married in October of 2001. He needed a gig that was more stable than “rock and roller,” so he became a screener at the Cincinnati airport for the newly created T.S.A. Eventually he became the social media expert for the T.S.A., starting their official blog in 2008 and their Instagram in 2013. The Instagram account offered travel tips, often by showcasing the weird and wacky things people try to bring on board planes, using a great sense of “dad joke” humor that came straight from Bob.

F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed that “there are no second acts in American lives” but Bob’s second act as a social media dude made him more famous than his band ever did. In 2016, “Blogger Bob” was ranked #4 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of top Instagram accounts (#5 was Beyoncé, just for perspective).

The account won multiple awards like Webbys (given out by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences) and Burns was featured in all forms of media with its increased popularity. He’d been profiled in the past year alone by NBC News, the Chicago Tribune, the Austin Statesmen and Mental FlossRolling Stone declared the account No. 4 on its list of best Instagram accounts and it got a nod from late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmell. Last month, Burns was featured on the syndicated TV program The Doctors. (Source: this CityBeat article)

A few weeks ago, Bob was bitten by a spider. The wound became infected… and Bob died of sepsis eight days ago, at the age of 48. He’s survived by his wife and two young daughters.

(The link to the GoFundMe page is here.)

“You can still find humor in the daily duties.” Here’s hoping we all can channel our inner Blogger Bob more often. We need it.

4 thoughts on “Big in Iowa. Big everywhere.

  1. Thanks for sharing this. This has gutted me, because I obviously knew him and corresponded frequently.

    Back in 2001 we did “live” Local Lixx shows where we’d have local artists in for a studio session. This was the one we did with Bob in his Big In Iowa days: https://soundcloud.com/bob-burns-4/matt-sledge-interviews-big-in?fbclid=IwAR3JZA2j7okfIF6nvfIK-BmyBrLEPYkX-OOUQ9kKxDemB6WWHarZritW7YE

    And in related local music news Dave Davis – local music producer and record mastering extraordinaire was unfortunately involved in a very nasty car accident the other day. I’ll quote Dave Purcell’s (of Pike 27 fame) Facebook post:

    “Local music friends — if you haven’t already heard, mastering guru/producer/good guy Dave Davis was seriously injured in a horrific accident, reportedly a head-on collision, on AA Highway this morning. His wife Karen posted, “He is presently in a coma at University Hospital. Has multiple leg fractures, arm fracture, rib fractures, and bleeding on the brain.” Please keep Dave and Karen in your thoughts and send some love their way.”

    • Thanks Matt, I’ll check out the interview. So sorry to hear about Dave Davis, definitely hoping and praying for a full recovery.

  2. This breaks my heart. Much love and light to his family and friends who understandably are deep in shock and racked with loss.

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