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Born in 1893, probably in or around Lake Providence, Louisiana, when he was still a young boy his parents moved to Chicago. He was one of the first self-accompanied bluesmen to record, for Okeh Records in 1926, releasing "Milk Cow Blues" and "Muddy Water Blues". Whilst he had grown up in Chicago, his music had a strong Delta influence. Sometimes also known as Papa Freddie Spruell, Mister Freddie and even Mississippi Freddie Spruell (although his only known links to that State are stylistic).

It has been cited that he gave up the blues in the mid 1940's when his mother asked him to go back to the church. Spruell, a Baptist, became a preacher and never performed again. He is said to have died in Chicago in 1956 although no records have been found to confirm this.