OTIS GRAND, the Gentle Giant of the Blues, has absorbed a wide spectrum of Blues styles in the past four decades and now leads the hottest TRUE Blues and R & B band around today. More importantly, he not only carries the real blues TORCH for the heros of yesterday, his superb blues guitar technique and playing and originality and a tight band that rocks mean, Otis Grand also sets the standards for many others to follow which ensure that he is at the top of the Blues scene for many years to come.
Otis Grand has pioneered the big band blues sound over the last few years, starting with a West Coast R&B band and now moving into his present guitar led Big City style Blues. For the past ten years Otis has recieved a number of Awards including UK BLUES GUITARIST OF THE YEAR ( 1990- 96), Best Blues Albums, Best Band, and nominations to the prestigious W.C. HANDY BLUES Awards in Memphis, Tenn.Surely testimony enough of the man's ability and dedication to the Blues.
Anyone who has experienced the Gentle Giant of the Blues in action can bear witness to the devastating effect he and his band can have on the audience. His gigs are now legendry, drawing acclaim from purists and from those who come looking for a good night out.Otis has toured consantly turning in consistently great performances, building a big following and confirming his "numero uno" status in Europe.
On his 1992
CD, the esteem with which Otis is now held by his many friends in the
Blues World is evident by the stature of those musicians who have joined
him on "HE KNOWS THE BLUES". Critics have already claimed it
to be "...one of the best contemporary blues records heard for a
long,long time". ( source : Tony Burke - Editor, Blues & Rhythm
Guitarist Otis Grand has been playing blues guitar since the age of 13 - Otis says: "I never listened to any one but B.B.king and Robert Johnson for a very very long time, and I am glad I’ve missed out on all the heavy blues/rock/acid thing that was going on in the 60’s. This way I have preserved the deep blues roots of my playing style, which now goes with me in whatever musical journey I am attempting."
In 1988 Otis Grand released his first album ‘Always Hot’ with his big band. The band quickly dominated the UK blues scene, and soon after began to establish an international audience by touring extensively in Europe, and also as an opening act for such major stars as John Lee Hooker, BB king, Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Steve Winwood, among others.
The following years he released three further CD’s each with a veteran Blues artists: Guitar Shorty in 1991, Philip Walker in 1992, and 50’s Tenor sax star Joe Houston in 1994. The Shorty release won a coveted W.C. Handy Award for best Blues album (foreign)
In 1990 Otis Grand released his first solo album for Sequel Records with musicians and guests from the USA. The album, titled "He Knows the Blues", was critically and commercially acclaimed. This album was testimony to Otis’ superb song writing and guitar playing, and as well as his standing in the blues fraternity by the calibre of artists who agreed to appear on this album.
1995 release of Otis’ second album for Sequel," Nothing Else matters " further established his reputation as one of the country’s best and most convincing bluesman. This powerhouse release mixes slow scorchers with uptempo jumpers that had the dance floors from Scandinavia to California packed. This album was also Grand’s major U,S debut and a ‘ kick the door open’ approach to American Blues fans. The CD established Otis as the highest seller in the UK and Europe with total sales outdoing other blues artist, including Robert Cray and Duke Robillard. It has also debuted at no. 8 and reached on the US top 20 Blues Charts, and received extensive radio play in both Canada and the USA.
With his third release for Sequel , Perfume & Grime, Otis Grand became a huge guitar star all over the USA & Canada. During the summer and autumn of 1998, Otis embarked on a major tour of Canada and the United states, and appearred at all the major Blues festivals, including the long running San Francisco Blues festival, and the Mighty Cisco Systems OTTAWA Bluesfest. This led to a 2 year stretch with IKE TURNER & the Rythym Kings .. as Guitarist and Band leader. Otis also performed in concert throughout the UK and Europe with his own band in support of the GRAND UNION CD release, with special appearances by Anson Funderburgh and Debbie Davis.
Otis continues to tour throughout the world, bringing his Classic Big Band Blues to many festivals and Events. He released a long-awaited Live CD plus a highly acclaimed duet CD with Joe Louis Walker aptly titled "Guitar Brothers". He also continues to make special guest appearances with other Blues Artists, and through the annual OTIS GRAND R&B ALLSTAR EXTRAVAGANZA, has teamed super artists like STEVE CROPPER and KIM WILSON together with the Late ROSCO GORDON and SUGAR RAY Norcia. Others legendary artists invited were JOE HOUSTON, T99 NELSON.
Otis has also started a " Blues in Schools " lecture programme aimed at the younger generation and which has been very successfully recieved in High Schools in the South of Britain.
Recently, Sanctuary Records released a 2 CD, 34 track best-of Compilation of Otis' 5 Studio Recordings in recognition of sales figures in the past 10 years. The label has created a well-packaged and informative product containing the best tracks with many special guest artists. The Box set is aptly titled "In Grand Style", and has been a best seller in the UK and Europe.
Otis has also been very busy as a Producer for many other Blues Bands throughout Europe who want that special OG recording sound that is immediately recognizable as a mix of pure vintage and modern sounds of the Blues.A recent Production task saw him collaborating with Swing sensation Little Charlie Baty, who came out of retirement to record with Otis for Bliss Street Records.
Here are a few of the many International Awards won by Otis Grand:
For the complete Otis Grand Story, see the following article in BLUES GAZZETTE
by Mick Rainsford