Chicago deep soul giant Otis Clay, too soon, has gone to Soul Heaven. Clay died Friday Jan. 8, 2016 of a sudden heart attack at 73, according to his daughter, Ronda Tankson.
The Mississippi-born singer moved to Chicago in 1957 and rose in the music business in the 1960s with help of his West Side mentor Harold Burrage on One-der-ful Records.
A one-time Grammy nominee, Clay had planned a year of touring behind recent records and recognition at May’s 37th Blues Music Awards, manager Miki Mulvehill said. Clay was nominated by the Blues Foundation this year for Soul-Blues Male Artist and Soul-Blues Album for This Time for Real, his collaboration with Pittsburgh singer Billy Price.
Price will be on hand to sing at Clay’s funeral this Saturday, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Jan. 13. Services are Jan. 16, at Liberty Baptist Church, 4849 South King Drive in Chicago. A wake will be held at 10 a.m., funeral program at 11 a.m., followed immediately by burial in Oak Woods Cemetery, 1035 E. 67th St. Leak & Sons Funeral Home is in charge.
U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-IL, whose 7th district represents most of the West Side and parts of the South Side and downtown, gave a tribute on the floor of Congress to his neighbor: “Although Otis Clay reached national acclaim, he continued to live in the North Lawndale community, was a regular at local churches, festivals and community events. He established his own recording studio, owned a local cleaners, and was known as a regular in the community…I know that, when the gates swing open, Otis Clay will come walking in.” (click black and white picture above for full tribute)
Fox News obituary also honors Otis Clay as a West Sider:
The Chicago Defender recounts Otis Clay’s West Side music business rise with Harold Burrage , George Leaner and One-derful records:
“You always want to make a difference in the world if there’s something that you can do, something – you can help someone along the way.” Clay told NPR in a 2011 interview: