Author: Alan Balfour
Source: document transmitted by A. Balfour to my attention
“Otis Spann first recorded with Muddy Waters in 1953. If we discount an isolated 1949 Johnny Jones session this was Muddy’s first recording with a pianist since his Chess debut with Sunnyland Slim in 1947. The 23-year-old Otis Spann was to hold down the piano stool in Waters’ equally lucky band in a fruitful and unique collaboration that lasted for the next seventeen years.
Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, where he was born on March 21, 1930 to Frank Houston Spann and Josephine Erby, Otis Spann was of a younger generation than fellow pianists Sunnyland Slim, Roosevelt Sykes or Memphis Slim, but his early musical tutelage was very similar. In Spann’s case, he was inspired to play the piano at the age of eight by a local pianist, Friday Ford: “I think he was a genius and down to the present time before he died he taught me all I know. He used to take me and put me across his knee and tell me ‘The reason you right here at the piano, ’cause I’m trying to make you play,’ but I couldn’t ’cause I was too young and my fingers wasn’t developed”,1 he affectionately recalled in 1960.”
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