Soul And / Or Related Artists
otis leavill

Otis Leavill

b. Otis Leavill Cobb, 8th February 1937, Dewey Rose, Elbert County, Georgia, U.S.A.

d. 17th July 2002, Garfield Park, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, U.S.A.

Otis Leavill was a Soul singer, songwriter, and a record company executive.

Born in Dewey Rose in Georgia, Otis’ family reloacted to Chicago at the age of two.

His father was a Church pastor at the First Church of Deliverance on South Wabash Avenue.

Otis began singing in his family's gospel group, the Cobb Quartet.

When he was a teenager, Otis had taken up boxing, along with his friend Major Lance.

Otis graduated from Crane High School, and went on to college.

During 1958 and 1959, Otis sang in a group called the Floats, an ensemble which included his friend, Major Lance, along with Barbara Tyson.

Otis LeavillOtis LeavillOtis LeavillOtis Leavill

rise sally rise b/w gotta right to cry - 1963 / i'm amazed b/w just a memory - 1964 / when the music grooves b/w let her love me - 1964 / right back in love b/w keep on loving - 1966

As a solo performer, Otis released his first single ‘Rise Sally Rise’ b/w ‘I Gotta Right To Cry’ for the small Lucky Records imprint.

The song was penned by another friend of his, Curtis Mayfield, and featured background vocals by the female group The Opals.

Otis Leavill

In 1964, Otis released two 45’s for the Limelight records label (‘I Am Amazed’ b/w ‘Just A Memory’, and ‘Don't Let Me Down’ b/w ‘Jane Girl’)

His next 45, ‘Let Her Love Me’ b/w ‘When The Music Grooves’ was released on the Blue Rock Records label, the same year.

‘Let Her Love Me’ was written by Billy Butler, produced by Major Lance, and featured The Impressions on backing vocals, and reached number 31 on the Billboard R&B chart.

The singles success led to Otis touring with Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars.

In 1965, Otis released two further 45’s on Blue Rock, namely ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ b/w ‘Boomerang’ and ‘A Reason To Be Lonely’ b/w ‘Because Of You’.

Otis LeavillOtis LeavillOtis LeavillOtis Leavill

nobody but you b/w charlotte - 1967 / can't stop loving you b/wbaby why can't you hear me? - 1967 / love uprising b/w i need you - 1970 / it must be love b/w i still love you - 1972

He released 45’s throughout the Sixties for several imprints, Columbia, Brunswick, Smash, Dakar and another 1968 45 on Blue Rock.

At the outset of the seventies, Otis had become less of a performer, but more of a talent scout and record producer (he produced sides for Tyrone Davis, and managed Major Lance's Motown album ‘Now Arriving’).

He collaborated with Carl Davis at both Okeh and Brunswick, and was credited as discovering several artists, including, The Chi-Lites, Tyrone Davis, Manchild, Hamilton Bohannon, and Chaka Khan.

In 1967, when Carl Davis had set up Dakar Records, Otis became the vice-president.

Otis recorded for Dakar himself, releasing ‘I Love You’ b/w ‘I Need You’ (in 1969), ‘Glad I Met You’ b/w ‘Why Why Why’ (in 1970), ‘Love Uprising’ b/w ‘I Need You’ (in 1970), ‘I’m So Jealous’ b/w ‘You Brought Out The Good In Me’ (in 1971)’, ‘There's Nothing Better’ b/w ‘Glad I Met You’ (in 1971), and ‘It Must Be Love’ b/w ‘I Still Love You’ (in 1972, penned by Prince Phillip Mitchell).

‘Glad I Met You’ was later covered by the Artistics, whilst ‘I’m So Jealous’ was also covered by the Chi-Lites.

Willie Henderson produced many of Otis’ recordings at Dakar.

The 1969 single, I Love You’ was written by Eugene Record of The Chi-Lites, and featured backing vocals by Eugene and Barbara Acklin.

The song reached number 10 on the R&B chart.

1971’s ‘Love Uprising’, also written by Eugene Record.

Otis Leavill

Later records were less successful, however Otis continued to work with, and write songs for various artists, including Major Lance, Tyrone Davis, and Gene Chandler.

Otis LeavillOtis Leavill

In 1975, Otis released his final 45 for the Contempo Records imprint in the U.K., entitled 'I Love You' b/w 'Tell The World' (penned by Curtis Mayfield).

Otis later coached football at Hyde Park High School in future years.

He was also employed as a policeman in Chicago.

In 1999, Otis toured Europe with The Dells.

In 2000, he formed the OK Records imprint.

Otis sadly died in Chicago of a heart attack in 2002, aged 65.

He was survived by his wife, Minnie and his son.

Otis Leavill

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