Spearman was active in Oakland, California from the late 1960s, but moved to Paris in 1972, where he founded an ensemble called Emergency. This group recorded several albums on Brain Records in the 1970s, performed on radio and television in France, and appeared at the festival in Avignon. He spent time as an artist-in-residence in Rotterdam and touring through Europe before returning to the United States in 1983. Following his return he worked in the Cecil Taylor Unit, working primarily out of San Francisco, though he performed on both sides of the Atlantic through the 1980s. In the 1990s, he led a Double Trio which included Larry Ochs, William Winant, and Lisle Ellis as sidemen; this ensemble played at the Monterey Jazz Festival and the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. They were also commissioned for a piece by the Move Dance Theater, which was performed at Laney College. He worked with the Rova Saxophone Quartet and with filmmaker Lynn Marie Kirby, in addition to teaching at Mills College.
He died of cancer in 1998. He is survived by his four children: Rose Stigter-Spearman, Ahmad Spearman, Jihan Spearman and Angelica Spearwoman; and his two step-children Jennifer Jessica Kingeter (now deceased) and Jasper Kingeter.
- Utterance (Cadence Jazz, 1990)
- Mystery Project (Black Saint Records, 1992)
- Smokehouse (Black Saint, 1993)
- Free Worlds (Black Saint, 1994)
- The Fields (Black Saint, 1996)
- Th (CIMP, 1997)
- Blues for Falasha (Tzadik Records, 1997)
- Let it Go (Red Toucan Records, 1997)
- First and Last (Eremite Records, 1997)
- Surya:Stretch the Edge (1997)
- Working with the Elements (CIMP, 1998)
- With Raphé Malik
- Sirens Sweet and Slow (1994; Out Sounds)
- The Short Form (1997; Eremite Records)