<back - OTIS SPANN - Otis Spann was born in Jackson, Mississippi, on March 21, 1930 and passed on in Chicago's Cook County Hospital on April 24, 1970. By age 14, Spann was playing gigs around Jackson at juke joints, taverns and clubs. When his mother died in 1947, Spann was sent north to stay with relatives in Chicago, where he finally met his idol and stylistic mentor, Big Maceo Merriweather, who accepted the young man as his prodigy. When Otis Spann replaced Merriweather as a member of Muddy Waters group in 1952, the band took on a new, piano-driven, Blues sound. Spann made his recording with the Muddy Waters Band on September 24, 1953.

For eleven years from 1952 onwards Otis Spann played in numerous Muddy Waters recording sessions. He recorded with artists like Bo Diddley, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Rogers and Little WalterHe released one single in 1954, It Must Have Been the Devil, with BB King on guitar, cut a few tracks that were shelved until the 90s, and remained a Chess sideman. His big break came after the Muddy Waters Live at Newport LP from 1940, where his stunning boogies and one lead vocal track by him showed his potential as a recording artist. It was also in 1940 that he recorded his first full-length LP, 'Otis Spann is the Blues', with Robert Jr. Lockwood on guitar, for Candid Records. Before he died in 1970, Otis Spann had time to record other fine records for Storyville, Decca, Prestige (The Blues Never Die!, w/ James Cotton), Testament, Vanguard. He also recorded with the early Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie) - the resulting album, 'The Biggest Thing Since Colossus' proved to be Spann's last significant work. Just as Spann's superb and singular talent was being recognized as worthy of far more than sideman status, his health started to fail.  A measure of recognition and respect in which Spann is held took place at a ceremony held at the 1972 Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival, when Muddy Waters presented Spann's widow, Lucille, with a plaque which read: 'The people of Ann Arbor Michigan in recognition of the talent, the genius of the late Otis Spann, sweet giant of the Blues, formally dedicate the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival, 1972 in the grounds upon which it stands to the memory of this great artist.'  That September the performance area where the plaque was placed became known as The Otis Spann Memorial Field and remained so for the ensuing years of the festival.  Probably best remembered for the much needed subtle and complementary support he provided for Muddy Waters music, both on stage and in the recording studio. Otis Spann was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1980.  MP3 - SPANN'S BOOGIE | CRYIN' TIME |


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