Artist picture of Otis Spann

Otis Spann

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Artist's top tracks

Blues Jam T-Bone Walker, Joe Turner, Otis Spann 10:57
Otis in the Dark Otis Spann 04:38
Jot's Blues T-Bone Walker, Joe Turner, Otis Spann 08:14
Must Have Been the Devil Otis Spann 02:55
Paris Blues T-Bone Walker, Joe Turner, Otis Spann 13:59
Must Have been The Devil Otis Spann 02:45
Here I Am Broken Hearted T-Bone Walker, Joe Turner, Otis Spann 03:46
Someday Baby Otis Spann;Fleetwood Mac 03:02
Temperature Is Rising (100.2°F) Otis Spann 06:18
Mr. Jelly Roll Baker Otis Spann, James Cotton, Johnny Young, Big Walter Horton 03:05

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Can't Do Me No Good
Can't Do Me No Good
Bloody Murder
Bloody Murder

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Biography

As the longest serving member of Muddy Waters' band, Otis Spann's intense, high energy piano style lit up the legendary Chicago blues scene in the 1950s and '60s and featured on some of the great Chess Records recordings, before he later unleashed his mournful, wailing vocals and established himself as a well-respected solo performer.

His mother was a guitarist who played with Memphis Minnie, but Spann and his cousin Little Johnny Jones (also a Chicago blues stalwart) grew up playing piano at the church where his stepfather was a preacher in Jackson, Mississippi, and he took lessons from local ragtime, boogie players Friday Ford and Little Brother Montgomery. He honed his trade playing in juke joints and at local parties, and after his mother died he made his way to Chicago in 1946, where differing accounts have him boxing in Golden Gloves tournaments, working as a plasterer, playing pro football and serving in the army.

Mentored by Big Maceo Merriweather, Spann led the house band at the Tic Toc Lounge, before making his first recordings with Muddy Waters in 1953 and he became a key sideman at the Chess label, where he played on records by Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Bo Diddley and Sonny Boy Williamson. He remained with Waters' band throughout his career and played on landmark tracks such as 'I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man' and 'I Just Want to make Love to You' and classic albums 'Folk Singer' and 'After the Rain', but initially struggled to break through as a solo artist despite his great 1954 single 'It Must Have Been the Devil', featuring BB King.

An iconic appearance at the Newport Folk Festival with Muddy Waters and well-received tours to Europe finally brought Spann more recognition, and he teamed up with guitarist Robert Lockwood Jr for debut album 'Otis Spann Is the Blues' in 1960, before recording stomping R&B tracks 'Pretty Girls Everywhere' and 'Stirs Me Up' with Eric Clapton for Decca. Albums 'The Blues Is Where It's At' in 1966 and 'Nobody Knows My Troubles' in 1967 followed, but it is his scorching blues rock jam 'The Biggest Thing Since Colossus' with Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green, Danny Kirwan and John McVie in 1969 that stands up as his most striking solo work. He also recorded sessions with Lightnin' Hopkins, Buddy Guy and Big Mama Thornton and made his final appearance on Junior Wells' 'South Side Blues Jam', before his death from liver cancer in 1970.