Otis Clay * February 11, 1942 – January 8, 2016 R.I.P
Legendary Soul, Blues, and R&B singer Otis Clay died Friday evening January 8, 2016 of a heart attack. He was, as you know, a great man, mentor, teacher, humanitarian, historian, and an incredible friend.
Our hearts are broken…
It with the saddest tears that we remember the life of Otis Clay. Born in Waxhaw, Mississippi, in 1942, Clay followed the Great Migration north first to Muncie Indiana in 1953, and ultimately Chicago in 1956. It was there he joined many of the city’s Gospel groups until he began his secular singing career in 1962. Clay signed with One-derful! Records and recorded “A Flame In Your Heart” in 1965.
After a stint with Cotillion Records, Clay landed in Memphis with Hi Records from 1971-74 and with Willie Mitchell at the helm, recorded that label’s most iconic soul tunes. His biggest hit, “Trying To Live My Life Without You,” was followed with Clay classics, “If I Could Reach Out” and “I Die A Little Each Day.” Clay moved to many other labels including Rounder, Blind Pig, CrossCut, Catfood, Echo, and others.
Throughout the years, he has been a featured vocalist on many records from the Bo-Keys, Johnny Rawls, Magic Slim, Eddy Clearwater, Billy Price, Tad Robinson, Rico McFarland, and Dave Specter. In 2013, Otis Clay was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame.
Nobody grabbed an audience or individual like Otis. Off the stage, Clay was the absolute gentleman. He listened to all with the same heart and soul that he delivered his songs. Once touched by this man, a lifelong friendship would ensue. We will certainly cry a little each day with this giant taken away.