Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Spears, Louie (Louie Butler Spears Jr.)

Spears, Louie [Louie Butler Spears Jr.], bass, cello; b. Oklahoma City, 9 March 1935. He has been known by a couple of other names: Mbiki and mistakenly Louis. He is from a family of four children. 

Spears's first musical instrument was trombone, which was issued at his elementary school after his younger brother Maurice, had brought a trombone home. They both played trombone throughout their school years.  He didn't become interested in playing jazz until after 3 years in the army. His brother Maurice Spears is an active member of Los Angeles' varied musical scene. While in college, in 1957 at Oklahoma City University studying Engineering, Louie began to teach himself to play the bass. About four years later, 1961, he moved to Dallas, Texas to improve his musical activities and to study bass privately. He played in bands with James Clay, Ted Dunbar, Red Garland, and Billy Harper.

From 1962 -1963, Louie studied with The Dallas Philharmonic Orchestra's Principle Bassist Robert Zimmerman and Co-Principle Bassist Clifford Spores. In 1968, Louie and his family moved to Los Angeles, again to broaden his career. In 1970 he studied Latin bass rhythms with legendary bassist Al McKibbon. In 1972 Louie started to pursue a dream he had for many years, to learn to play jazz on cello! He studied with solo cellist, Gregory Bemko, studio cellist Victor Sazar, and L.A. Philharmonic cellist Stephen Foster. From 1974-1976 Louie was a member of the Watts Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Octave Bonomo. While having an ongoing career on the acoustic and bass guitar in both jazz and pop, in 1976, he started his own group "Spearment" where he was featured on cello along with Dorothy Ashby on harp, Brenton Banks on violin, Terry Evans on guitar, Essiet Essiet on bass, and George Goldsmith on drums. There were several live performances, but no recordings of that group, although there are some recordings of him on cello that were done with Eddie Harris and Horace Tapscott.

Louie has involved himself in his community by contributing his musical talents in service to the elderly, youth, and school educational programs. He has received Certificates of Appreciation from: Honorable Bill Green, Senator of the 29th District, California Legislature. UCS College of Continuing Education.  LAUSD School Volunteer Program Inc.  The Charles Dolo Coker Scholarship Foundation, Inc. He has worked with Hank Crawford, James Clay, David 'Fathead' Newman, Ted Dunbar, Billy Harper, Red Garland, Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessel, Pharoah Sanders, Benny Golson, Jack Wilson, Horace Tapscott, Eddie Harris, Plas Johnson, Clifford Jordan, Jack Sheldon, Al 'Tootie' Heath, L.A. Bass Choir, Kats & Fiddles, James Moody, Donald Byrd, Harold Land, Billy Higgins, BoneSoir, as well as large groups led by Oliver Nelson, Duke Pearson, Gil Askey, Benny Carter, Cab Calloway, Gerald Wilson, Roger Spotts, and singers Lou Rawls, Nancy Wilson, Marlena Shaw, Diana Ross, O.C. Smith, Pearl Bailey, Ernie Andrews, Lorez Alexandria, Roberta Flack, Sammy Davis Jr., Leon Thomas, The Supremes, The Ink Spots, Jimmy Scott, Jimmy Witherspoon, Etta James, Abbey Lincoln, and many others.In the spring of 2004,Louis and his brother Maurice were inducted into the OKLAHOMA JAZZ Hall of Fame.

 He is the husband of Akua, and the father of Cornell (b.1965), Ebony Rafiki (b.1971), and Moritz Bohani (b.1979) plays guitar.

Recordings:
Eddie Harris: Artist's Choice: The Eddie Harris... (1961), Best of Eddie Harris (1965), Free Speech (1969), Live at Newport (1970), John Carter: Secrets (1972); Etta James: Come a Little Closer (1974); Diana Ross: Evening with Diana Ross (1977); Eddie Harris: Tale of Two Cities (1978); Horace Tapscott: Flight 17 (1978), The Call (1978); Charles Owens: The Two Quartets (1979); Billy Harper: In Europe (1979); Mat Marucci: Who Do Voo Doo (1979), Festival (1980), Extensity (1981); Horace Tapscott: The Tapscott Sessions. Vol 4 (1982); Curtis Peagler: For Basie And Duke (1982); Mat Marucci: Avant-Bop (1983); Buster Cooper/Thurman Green: Buster Cooper and Thurman Green (1987); Etta James: Sweetest Peaches, Pt. 2 (1988); Dwight Dickerson: Dwight's Rights (1992), Sooner or Later; Etta James Essential Etta James (1993); Billy Harper: Somalia (1993); Hugh Brodie: Unforgettable Sax (1994); Billy Harper: Live on Tour in the Far East, Vol. (1994), Live on Tour in the Far Eas t, Vol. (1995), Live on Tour in the Far East, Vol. (1995); Eddie Harris: Live at Newport/Instant Death (2000), Free Speech/That Is Why You're... (2001); Various Artists: Great Live Jazz (2003); also recorded With Papa John Creech, Kai Winding, , Dorothy Ashby, Duke Pearson, Donald Dean, David Angle, Roger Spotts

Television broadcasts:
Kenny Rogers-Dolly Parton Christmas Special, Double Dare, Mike Hammer, Hart to Hart, Designing Women, Perfect Strangers, Knotts Landing, Buck James, Bob Hope Special, Scarecrow & Mrs. King, Guts & Glory, Dallas, D.E.A., Who's The Boss, Brooklyn Bridge, Jack's Place, Family Matters, Hanging With Mr. Cooper, The Wayans Bros., Mad About You, Seinfeld, Living Single, Fame L.A.

Films:
Swing Shift, Bird, Coming To America, The New Peter Gunn, Pee Wee's Big Top, La Bamba, Till Death Do Us Part, Beaches, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Delirious, Dead Again, Ghost In The Machine, Indecent Proposal, Lush Life, Naked Gun 33 1/3, True Lies, Devil In A Blue Dress, Grace In My Heart, Why Do Fools Fall In Love, Dorothy Dandrige Story, Pirates Of The Silicon Valley

Theater:
Street Scene, Stevie Wants To Play the Blues, Blues In The Night, Ain't Misbehavin', Travis Taylor's Daughter Rose, Dinah Was

Awards:
1974 from the Mayor's Adult Committee with Youth Performing Arts Award of Excellence in the field of Performing Arts. 1986 Black Caucus of Jazz Educators' Achievement Award.  1989-Watts Labor Community Action Committee's Outstanding Voluntary Service award. 1997 Sisters of Jazz Larry Gales' Music Achievement Award.

Contact information:
Louie Spears
5619 1/2 Keniston Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90043
Phone 323 294 1155
323 806 2277 cell
Fax 323 294 1155
Mbiiki@AOL.Com

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