Arguably the most important pianist of the postwar Chicago blues scene, Otis Spann started playing piano at the age of seven, with some instruction from local piano players in his native Jackson. By 1944 he was playing in local bands around that city and three years later left for Chicago, where he would live for the rest of his tragically short life. Spann replaced Merriweather as Muddy Waters' piano player in late 1952, and had his first recording session with the band on September 24, 1953. From 1952 to 1969 Spann was a full-time member of the Muddy Waters band, which also included Jimmy Rogers and Little Walter. He was also in great demand by the Chess label as house pianist, accompanying artists like Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry ("No Money Down", "You Can't Catch Me"), Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Jimmy Rogers and Little Walter. In April of 1970, blues pianist Otis Spann flew to Boston to play a gig. With him were his wife, Lucille, and his band. The concert would be Otis' last. Before he flew to Boston, doctors had diagnosed Spann with terminal liver cancer — he died three weeks after the concert.
Otis Spann was posthumously elected to the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980.