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“He loved Chicago:” Melody Span Cooper remembers the toughness, determination and pioneering story of his father Pervis Spann “The Blues Man”


CHICAGO (CBS) – Family, friends and civil rights insults gathered on Wednesday at Fr. an exciting musical tribute to “The Blues Man” by Pervis Spann.

Span died on Monday, March 14th. He began his career in radio in the 1950s and later acquired WVON in the late 70s. He also owned radio stations in Memphis; Atlanta; and Jacksonville, Florida.

But while many knew Spann as a blues legend and businessman, he was just a dad for Melody Span Cooper. Irica Sargent from CBS 2 this week met exclusively with Span Cooper to learn about the one-of-a-kind person, their relationship and Spann’s last moments in the fight against what Span Cooper calls a cruel disease – Alzheimer’s disease.

“I knew he wouldn’t go until he was ready, and I knew he was ready,” Span Cooper said.

But it’s never easy to finally say goodbye to someone who has been your biggest inspiration.

What brings Melody Span Cooper consolation is that her father has invested so much in his 89 years and paved the way like no other in Chicago.

“Imagine that in a very short period of time you move from a shared settlement to participating in rallies,” Span Cooper said. “You know, it was just amazing.”

Pervis Span grew up in the small town of Ita-Ben, Mississippi, and got a lot of jobs when he moved to Chicago. But it was blues music that sparked the empire.

“There was nothing he could do,” Mr. Cooper told Sargent. “He really lived his life, Irica, without ceilings. There was nothing my dad didn’t think he could achieve. ”

Span started as a DJ on WOPA radio. Chess Records co-founder Leonard Chess then spotted and hired Span in WVON.

Spann quickly became the most popular DJ of the night. He called himself the “Man of the Blues.”

He was also a concert promoter and nightclub owner.

“I just remember there was always a house where there was life – music, you know,” Span Cooper said. “I could wake up, and in the kitchen would be Bee King, or Johnny Taylor.”

Span actually gave the BBC the title of “King of the Blues” and proclaimed Aretha Franklin the “Queen of the Soul”.

But even deeply immersed in the entertainment industry, Span Cooper said her father had a strict code of conduct.

“My dad didn’t smoke. He didn’t drink, ”Span Cooper said. – He just believed in hard work.

Span spent a record 87 hours non-stop on the air to raise money for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Civil Rights Age.

Eventually, Span went from DJ to WVON owner and co-founded the parent company Midway Broadcasting Corporation. It has expanded with other radio stations across the country.

“When we talk about someone building a radio station, you think,‘ Okay, they’re getting a license from the FCC, ’” Cooper said. “No, he was literally in the grass with the antennas.”

But the last eight years have been drastically different as Span has battled Alzheimer’s disease.

“He was, you know, inaudible. He was in bed,” Span Cooper said. “But you could talk to him. He could move his eyes.”

For a man whose voice was legendary, it was bitter.

“It’s a severe disease,” Span Cooper said.

Sargent asked Spanna Cooper what she missed most about Dad.

“His advice,” said Mr. Cooper. “His southern, organic, just inconspicuous advice.”

And that’s what Span Cooper is looking forward to continuing to run the company like her father.

“He made a difference in a city he loved,” she said. “He loved Chicago.”

Span said that when her dad came up with new business ideas, she said, “Dad, this is crazy.” But he has always found his way to success, and she hopes his determination to inspire the next generation to do the same.

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