Arthur "Big Boy" Spires
|Also known as||Big Boy Spires|
February 25, 1912|
Natchez, Mississippi, United States
|Died||October 22, 1990
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Associated acts||Johnny Williams|
Life and career
Spires was born in Natchez, Mississippi (some sources give his birthplace as Yazoo City) on February 25, 1912. Although he didn't take up the guitar until the late 1930s, he was proficient enough by 1939 or 1940 to work with Lightnin' Hopkins at the Beer Garden in Yazoo City.
In 1943 Spires moved to Chicago, and started playing for house parties, graduating to playing clubs by the early 1950s. Spires was a limited guitarist, and during this time he recruited the young guitarists Louis and David Myers, who later went on to form The Aces, as part of his backing band.
By the time of his first recording session for Chess in 1952 Spires was working with a band called the Rocket Four, including Eddie El on guitar and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith on drums or harmonica. The recording session, however, featured a three guitar line-up with Spires, El, and Earl Dranes, supplemented by Smith on maracas on one of the two tracks, "Murmer Low". While sales of the resulting single were poor, both sides, especially "Murmer Low" which has a strong Tommy Johnson influence, are today regarded as classics of the Chicago blues genre.
A second recording session for Chance in 1953 resulted in another single being released, although a further four sides by Spires and two by guitarist Johnny Williams remained unissued until the 1970s. A further recording session in December 1954 produced four sides, but although the tapes went to United Records these were not released until 1989, possibly because of sound quality issues.
Spires continued to perform with the Rocket Four through the 1950s, and recorded another largely unissued session for the Testament label in 1965, but was forced to give up the guitar as a result of arthritis. He died in Chicago on October 22, 1990.
- "The Chess Label Part I". hubcap.clemson.edu. Retrieved 2010-05-09.
- Rowe 1981 p.128
- "allmusic ((( Arthur "Big Boy" Spires > Biography )))". www.allmusic.com. Retrieved 2010-05-09.
- Rowe 1981, p.129
- Rowe 1981, p.113
- "The Chance Label". hubcap.clemson.edu. Archived from the original on 28 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-09.
- "The Al Smith Discography part 1". hubcap.clemson.edu. Archived from the original on 29 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-09.
- Rowe M (1981): Chicago Blues: the city and the music. New York: Da Capo Press