Charlie Spand was an American blues and
boogie-woogie pianist and singer, noted for his barrelhouse style. Spand was
deemed one of the most influential piano players of the 1920s. Little is
known of his life outside of music, and his total recordings comprise only
thirty three tracks.
Charlie was an American blues and boogie-woogie pianist and singer, noted
for his barrelhouse style. Spand was deemed one of the most influential
piano players of the 1920s. Little is known of his life outside of music,
and his total recordings comprise only thirty three tracks.
There is speculation about his place of birth. Allmusic stated that some
claim Spand arrived in Elljay, Georgia, whilst his self-penned track,
"Alabama Blues," had a reference to his birth in that part of the country.
Various blues historians also cited Spand's songs, "Levee Camp Man" and
"Mississippi Blues," as evidence of connections there.
More certain is that Spand, along with others such as
William Ezell, was one
of those boogie-woogie pianists who, in the 1920s, performed on Brady Street
and Hastings Street in Detroit, Michigan. In 1929, Spand relocated to
Chicago, Illinois, where he met and began performing alongside Blind Blake.
Spand recorded twenty five songs for Paramount Records between June 1929 and
September 1931. The tracks were variously recorded in Richmond, Indiana,
Chicago, and Grafton, Wisconsin. From the 1929 Richmond recording sessions,
were seven songs which had guitar accompaniment to Spand's piano playing and
singing. Most of these were directly attributed to Blake. During Spand's
most notable recording, he and Blake had a small conversation during the
making of "Hastings Street." Another such duet occurred on "Moanin' the
After a gap in his recording career, in June 1940 Spand recorded what turned
out to be his final eight tracks, this time for Okeh Records. These were
made in Chicago, when Spand was backed by Little Son Joe and
Big Bill Broonzy. However, after
these recordings were made, no further reference to Spand can be located.
In 1992, Document Records issued The Complete Paramounts (1929-1931). Yazoo
Records' Dreaming the Blues: The Best of Charlie Spand (2002) had enhanced
sound quality, but without the chronological track order favored by
Spand's track "Back to the Woods" has been recorded by
Kokomo Arnold, Joan Crane and
Rory Block, while Josh White recorded his