Otis Leavill

Real Name:
Otis Leavill Cobb
Profile:
Born: February 8, 1937, Dewey Rose, Georgia.
Died: July 17, 2002, Chicago.
His first record "Ride Sally Ride," was released on Mercury's Limelight subsidiary, though Otis says he recorded it for St. Lawrence Records who evidently leased the master. His next release, "Gotta Right to Cry," a Mayfield song, came out on Lucky Records; Major Lance had already recorded and released the tune in 1963 for Okeh Records. His third release, "Let Her Love Me," in 1966, gave his career the boost it needed reaching number 31 on Billboard's R&B chart; the lilting Mayfield ballad, with the Impressions singing in the background became Blue Rock Records' first national hit. Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars provided Leavill with his first touring opportunity. Initially, he went along to accompany Major Lance, but with disk jockeys spinning "Let Her Love Me," Clark gave Leavill a paid slot on the Caravan to sing two songs.

Prior to that first hit, he befriended record producer Carl Davis who worked at Okeh Records. At Okeh he was Davis' right-hand man, helping to schedule artists, getting musicians and backing singers to the studio, etc. Leavill could spot talent, he discovered the Chi-lites, Tyrone Davis, Bohannon, and Manchild from Indianapolis, IN, whose members included Kenneth "Baby Face" Edmonds. Leavill and Davis passed on Yvette Stevens, a fast, hot-blooded 16-year-old singer, and her younger sister, Yvonne, they thought Yvette in particular would be a major distraction; in spite of her young age, older men hovered around the vivacious, full-throated, curvy teen like flies. Yvette became Chaka Khan, and Yvonne, Taka Boom. He raves about the Vibrations' ability to sing the "money songs" as he called standards, the tunes that got you cushy gigs in Las Vegas. Yet, it never really happened for the Californian natives like everyone predicted, their Okeh recordings' "Pick Me," "Misty," "Love in Them There Hills," and others were only modest sellers.

Blue Rock Records was Leavill's next stop. There he cut some memorable sides, including Billy Butler's "To Be or Not to Be," and "Let Me Live." When Davis formed the Dakar label, he appointed Otis as Vice-President and gave him shares in the company. Leavill also recorded for Dakar where he enjoyed his biggest hit: Eugene Record's "I Love You," a song that sounded like Leavill imitating Record, the Chi-lites' lead singer; it climbed to number ten R&B but never threatened the Pop Top 40, stalling number 64. Another Record composition "Love Uprising" nearly repeated the success of "I Love You," checking in at number 19 R&B and number72 Pop. Another single, "There's Nothing Better Than Loving You," scraped into the lower rungs of the R&B chart. Despite some success, Dakar never released an album by Leavill. Willie Henderson produced Leavill's recordings at Dakar; and Record and Barbara Acklin did the backing vocals.

After Dakar's demise Carl Davis went to Brunswick Records, Leavill followed and had a few releases including "Can't Stop Loving You" (which sells for $40.00 to collectors), but never again realized the success he had at Dakar. His releases after that were sporadic. "Right Back in Love" came out on Columbia Records, but after a few more droppings, Leavill's recording career ended. A songwriter also, BMI lists 41 songs by Leavill. He wrote "There's Goes the Lover" (Gene Chandler) and "Sweet Music" for Major Lance; he produced sides for Tyrone Davis, and supervised Major Lance's Motown album Now Arriving. More prominent behind the scenes than out front, his memories of music are all good. Divorced (from Minnie Cobb), his daughter Misti graduated from Miliken University in Decatur, IL. In 1999, he toured the European clubs with the Dells. Unknown to many, he and Carl Davis coached football at Hyde Park High for seven years. Never one to sit back and wait, Leavill also owned the '76 Car Wash and Gas Station at Washington and Pulaski, and moonlighted as a policeman in a west Chicago 'burb. He formed OK Records in 2000 after a long hiatus from the record business. Sadly, Otis Leavill passed July 17, 2002 of a heart attack; he was 65. Til the end , he had lost none of the drive, hustle, or energy that first won him respect as an amateur boxer at St. Albees.
Aliases:
Variations:

Singles & EPs

DG 1004 Otis Leavill - Gotta Right To Cry album art Otis Leavill Gotta Right To Cry (Single) Lucky (4) DG 1004 US 1963 Sell This Version
Y-3020 Otis Leavill - I'm Amazed album art Otis Leavill I'm Amazed (Single) Limelight Y-3020 US 1964 Sell This Version
Y-3037 Otis Leavill - Don't Let Me Down album art Otis Leavill Don't Let Me Down Limelight Y-3037 US 1964 Sell This Version
B 4002X Otis Leavill - When The Music Grooves / Let Her Love Me album art Otis Leavill When The Music Grooves / Let Her Love Me (Single) Blue Rock B 4002X Canada 1964 Sell This Version
B-4015 Otis Leavill - To Be Or Not To Be / Boomerang album art Otis Leavill To Be Or Not To Be / Boomerang Blue Rock B-4015 US 1965 Sell This Version
B-4031 Otis Leavill - A Reason To Be Lonely album art Otis Leavill A Reason To Be Lonely (Single) Blue Rock B-4031 US 1965 Sell This Version
4-43661 Otis Leavill - Right Back In Love / Keep On Loving album art Otis Leavill Right Back In Love / Keep On Loving (Single) Columbia 4-43661 US 1966 Sell This Version
S-2141 Otis Leavill - Charlotte / Nobody But You album art Otis Leavill Charlotte / Nobody But You Smash Records (4) S-2141 US 1967 Sell This Version
55337 Otis Leavill - Can't Stop Loving You / Baby (Why Can't You Hear Me) album art Otis Leavill Can't Stop Loving You / Baby (Why Can't You Hear Me) (Single) Brunswick 55337 US 1967 Sell This Version
B-4063 Otis Leavill - It's The Same Old Me / Let Me Live album art Otis Leavill It's The Same Old Me / Let Me Live(7") Blue Rock B-4063 US 1968 Sell This Version
45-614 Otis Leavill - I Love You album art Otis Leavill I Love You (Single) Dakar Records 45-614 US 1969 Sell This Version
45-617 Otis Leavill - Glad I Met You / Why Why Why album art Otis Leavill Glad I Met You / Why Why Why (Single) Dakar Records 45-617 US 1970 Sell This Version
45-620 Otis Leavill - Love Uprising album art Otis Leaville* Love Uprising (Single) Dakar Records 45-620 US 1970 Sell This Version
45-622 Otis Leavill - You Brought Out The Good In Me / I'm So Jealous album art Otis Leavill You Brought Out The Good In Me / I'm So Jealous (Single) Dakar Records 45-622 US 1970 Sell This Version
DK-625 Otis Leavill - There's Nothing Better album art Otis Leavill There's Nothing Better (Single) Dakar Records DK-625 US 1970 Sell This Version
DK 4511 Otis Leavill - It Must Be Love album art Otis Leavill It Must Be Love Dakar Records DK 4511 US 1972 Sell This Version
CS.2074 Otis Leavill - I Love You / Tell The World album art Otis Leavill I Love You / Tell The World (Single) Contempo CS.2074 UK 1975 Sell This Version

Compilations

WESM 581 Otis Leavill - The Class Of Mayfield High album art Billy Butler / Major Lance / Otis Leavill Billy Butler / Major Lance / Otis Leavill - The Class Of Mayfield High(CD, Comp, RM) Westside WESM 581 UK 1999 Sell This Version