Nominated by the International Blues Foundation for Blues Music Award for Best Historical Release of 2012!
Born in Jackson, Mississippi Spann became known for his distinct piano style. His father played piano, non professionally, while his mother had played guitar with Memphis Minnie. Spann began playing piano by age of eight, influenced by his local ivories stalwart, Friday Ford. At the age of 14, he was playing in bands around Jackson, finding more inspiration in Big Maceo Merriweather, who took the young pianist under his wing once Spann migrated to Chicago in 1946. Other sources say that he moved to Chicago when his mother died in 1947 playing the Chicago club circuit and working as a plasterer. Spann gigged on his own, and with guitarist Morris Pejoe, working a regular spot at the Tic Toc Lounge before hooking up with Muddy Waters in 1952.
Although he recorded periodically as a solo artist, Spann was a full-time member of the Muddy Waters band from 1952 to 1968. In that period he also did session work with other Chess artists like Howlin' Wolf and Bo Diddley. Spann's own Chess Records output was limited to a 1954 single, "It Must Have Been the Devil" / "Five Spot", which featured B.B. King and Jody Williams on guitars..
In the late 1960s, he appeared on albums with Buddy Guy, Big Mama Thornton, Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac. Several films of his playing are available on DVD, including the Newport Folk Festival (1960), while his singing is also featured on the American Folk Blues Festival (1963) and The Blues Masters (1966). Following his death from liver cancer in Chicago in 1970, at the age of 40, he was interred in the Burr Oak Cemetery, Alsip, Illinois. He was posthumously elected to the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980