According to reports, Kirkland was attempting a U-Turn on Highway 98 in Crystal River, FL (north of Tampa) when his car was struck in the right side by the bus. The bus pushed Kirkland's Ford Taurus about 200 yards before coming to rest. Kirkland was medivaced to Tampa General Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Nobody on the bus was injured.
His website read "Cry a river of tears for the Lord has called the road warrior home. 8:30 am, Feburary 27th 2011 in Tampa, Florida."
Kirkland was born in Jamaica but moved to Alabama when he was 2. In 1943, at the age of 15, he headed off to Detroit and, in 1948, met and started working with John Lee Hooker. His work is heard on many of Hooker's recordings over the next seven-and-a-half years along with a series of recordings under his own name on RPM, King and Fortune Records.
In 1962, he released his first album, It's the Blues, Man!, on Tru-Sound Records with backing by King Curtis' band. That same year, he signed on with Otis Redding's band and eventually became his opening act.
The latter part of the 60's were lean for Kirkland but, in the early 70's, he signed with the Trix label and released Front and Center and The Devil and the Other Blues Demons.
Kirkland continued to record and tour for most of the rest of his life, even though he never reached the level of popularity of other in his genre. Even into his 80's, he was touring 42-weeks of the year, earning him the nickname "Gypsy of the Blues." Most recently, he has recorded for Telarc, JSP, Blue Suit and Hedda Records. His last recording was as a guest on Foghat's 2010 release Last Train Home.