Industry Great Hank Spann Has Died

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This has been SUCH a year of loss for the industry and I’m sorry to report that industry vet Hank Spann has passed.  I was shocked to discover Hank worked in Buffalo with all the other radio greats at WUFO decades ago. He was truly one of the most down to earth people I had ever met in the industry and I’ve been on a couple of panels with him at various industry conferences. Hank, who has been ill for a while, started as a dj and also had an illustrious career in records. Remember these sheets from the radio Radio Stations in the 60s and 70s when DJs were stars? Retail worked with radio and put these lists in the record stores with the Radio Station ‘s top songs.  One of my greatest childhood memories as a music lover was my mother and father used to take me on separate trips to Audrey’s and Dells to buy 5 and get 1 free whenever I asked and WBLK had this sheet with a promotion called the Blk Pick of the Week.  I found this sheet on eBay with Hank’s pic, someone is selling it. In addition, hear Hank open his show on WWRL hererfocus.org. Looking at this sheet makes it so hard for me to believe how homogenized urban radio has become thanks to the corporations and how the craft has been so watered down and disrespected. These guys were truly the last greats.




12 COMMENTS

  1. I am truly sadden by the passing of my friend Hank Spann. I had the pleasure of hiring Hank at WGIV in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1968. He moved on to greater successes, landing at WWRL in New York where he made a name for himself. Hank was always a gentleman, and one of the true genuine professionals in our business.Bless you my brother.Roland Bynum

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  3. Hank was VERY instrumental to introducing “The Nighthawk” (ME) to New Orleans…I consider this man one of a few to help make Brian Wallace, “Brian Wallace””, in this industry…I’ve had many to “mold” me in my time in radio, but none more than Hank Spann….THANK YOU, my big Bro, for schoolin me how to play “the game”, and how to share “the game’ to my younger “bruhs” in da game…to Tony, stay up, i gotcha back, just as you dad had mine!

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  5. I REMEMBER LISTENING TO HANK SPANN IN THE LATES 60S ON WWRL HE WOULD COME ON AT 6pm-10pm HE WOULD SAY ‘PUT YOUR FOOT ON THE ROCK, PAT IT AND DONT YOU DARE STOP” HE HAD SOME SAYINGS ‘LIKE A CRIPPLED CRAB WITHOUT A CRUTCH YOU KNOW IM TOO MUCH” AND “TOO HOT TO HANDLE LIKE A DRUGSTORE CANDLE” AND HIS FAMOUS WAS I’M IN THE WIND NY LATER…. I LOVED HIM! R.I.P. HANK

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  7. For those of us who lived here in New York City and listened to WWRL-AM 1600, inthe late 60’s and 70’s, we remember Hank Spann as “The Soul Server”. He had a style and delivery like NO other.Hank was also known for his memorable lines–whether BACK-ANNOUNCING a song/artist: “…Michael, Marlon, Tito, Jermaine and Jackie–The Five with “LookinThrough The Windows…” or “…That was Smokey and those money makin’ Miracles with the Tears of a Clown right here on Super 16 in New York!…”Hank always told you the names of the folks the singing groups (“Red, Eugene, Squirrel and Marshall–The Chi-Lites”)Sometimes Hank would be feelin a particular record record so much, he’d open the mic up and sing along with the song for a bit–adding his own ad-libs–like in James Brown’s “I Got a Bag of My Own”…he’d sing with Brown:”I got a bag of my own…I got a bag of my own…good God me and you Brown…I,I,I…”Hank also had his unique way to bringing the exclamation point home on one of those smooth soul ballads from the 70’s…think Black Ivory’s “You & I”…with about 15 seconds to go…right at the fade/tag…Spann would interject one of his patented “hey nowwww’s” in his deep and sloooowed down baritone voice LOLHank would always tell you to, “Put your foot on the rock, pat it and dontcha DARE stop!”Or maybe after playing “I Got So Much Trouble” by Joe Quarterman and Free Soul, he’d say,”that jam was funkier than a crippled crab without a crutch…have MERCYnow!”For years, his signoff in the late afternoon was legendary. It went a little something like this:”Well New York, that’s it for now…I gotta take two steps to the rear and get out of here. I’m making way for the man on my right, Gary Byrd…so I’m in thewind New York…LATER!”Said with all of the enthusiasm and energy you would imagine…Last year I stumbled across a trade radio website that mentioned Hank was very ill. I did leave a message for him and his family out in Northern Californiahoping, praying, wishing…Looking back, around 1990 or so, when Hank was working at Billboard Magazine, I called him one afternoon and shared my memories with him over the phone. He wasmost grateful and humbled that someone like me—a fan—who was in his mid teens during his hey day, would call and praise him.Until the day I die, I’ll ALWAYS remember Hank Spann and the hundreds and hundreds of hours of REAL RADIOPERSONALITY he gave me and a ton of others here in the Metropolitan New York City area….Rest in peace always/descanse en paz siempre:-(….Vincent-51 years old

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  9. Ya knowwwww? LOLI’ll never forget his closing [email protected] ShaRall:October 18, 2009 at 7:49 pm“I’m going to take two steps to the rear and I’m otta here. I’m in the wind New York, later.”

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  11. i heard the news this morning that hank spann passed he was a inspiration to me as i listen to him .i remember when he would play a james brown record “let a man come in and do the popcorn” he would ad-lib “maestro what should the server do?”(jb:”im gonna do my thing”)or the jackson five “mama’s pearl” ad-libbing “ha-ha”,”come on with your little come on”,”have mercy nowww” he will be very missed

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  13. god bless hank spann i remember being a kid and just setting there glued to that radio and him saying blowing your mind with the baddis jams i can find thank hank and god bless

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  16. I REMEMBER ” THE SOUL SERVER” AT THE BIG “RL” WITH LOVE. HANK AND THE CHIEF ROCKER FRANKIE CROCKER INSPIRED ME TO PURSUE A CAREER IN BROADCASTING. WHEN I WAS GROWING UP I ALWAYS SAID THAT I WANTED TO BE JUST LIKE THOSE TWO CATS WHO EPITOMIZED “KOOL”. HANK WAS VERY SUAVE AND I JUST WANTED TO EMULATE THAT AURA THAT HE PROJECTED THROUGH THE MICROPHONE. IN AN ERA WHERE YOU ACTUALLY FELT AS THOUGH YOU KNEW THE AIR PERSONALITY, HANK WAS MY BEST FRIEND AND HE WILL BE SORELY MISSED. MY CONDOLENCES TO HIS FAMILY. I HAD THE PLEASURE OF ATTENDING HIS MEMORIAL SERVICE IN NEW YORK CITY AT THE ABYSINNIAN BAPTIST CHURCH AND MINGLING WITH OLD FREINDS SUCH AS GARY BYRD,BOB LAW,VAUGHN HARPER,BUGSY,G.KEITH ALEXANDER AND HIS SON TONY. WHAT A GREAT TIME WE ALL HAD REMEMBERING A TRUE LEGEND AND SHARING MEMORIES. I REMEMBER HIS CLOSING LINE, THIS IS GONNA DO IT FOR THIS EDITION OF THE SERVERS MISSION, UNTIL I RETURN TO BURN TOMORROW AFTERNOON AT 2PM.BROTHER MAN,SISTER TOO IF YOU CAN. I’VE GOTTA TAKE TWO STEPS TO THE REAR AND GET OUTTA HERE. BE NICE TO SOMEBODY SHORT ,CAUSE YOU’LL NEVER KNOW WHEN SOMEONE SHORT MIGHT HAVE TO BE NICE TO YOU. I’M IN THE WIND NEW YORK,LATER,FOLLOWED BY HIS CLOSING THEME “FOLLOW THE WIND”. GOD BLESS HANK AND RIP CAUSE THERE WILL NEVER,EVER BE ANOTHER.

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  18. I remember Hank on WWRL in the seventies:”It’s 2 o’clock(Jingle, Hank Spann), then his first record was always Abe Tillman and the Detroit Emeralds.Rest in peace Hank, we’ll always remember you.

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  20. No one has mentioned Leona Horn, Candi Staton, Dorothy Moore, Jill Scott, but Jennifer Lopez. You could’ve use Seline Deon, not to mention those great that never got their reconition.I like to know who took the pole for the votes. Whom ever it was they was certainly off point with J -Lo .

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  22. Hank was by far the best DJ I’ve ever heard, and I’ve them all, truly. I was glued to WWRL during his days there. Nobody on that station could touch him. RIP Hank.

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