Eminently capable of serving up spot-on imitations of both Bobby "Blue" Bland and B.B. King, Andrew Odom was also a man of many interrelated nicknames: Voice, Big Voice, B.B., Little B.B., B.B. Junior. Perhaps his chameleonic talents held him back; Odom was a journeyman Chicago singer who recorded relatively sparingly.
Like the majority of his peers, Odom started out singing spirituals but fell in with Albert King and Johnny O'Neal on the St. Louis blues scene of the mid-'50s and began plying his trade there. He made an unobtrusive recording debut in 1961, singing "East St. Louis" with the band of one Little Aaron for the highly obscure Marlo imprint. He arrived in Chicago around 1960, hooking up with Earl Hooker as the slide guitar wizard's vocalist. A single for Nation Records in 1967 (as Andre Odom) preceded his debut album for ABC-BluesWay (cut in 1969, it remained in the can for quite a while before the label finally issued it).
A guest spot on Jimmy Dawkins' encore Delmark LP, All for Business, was a highlight of the '70s for the singer. He cut his own album for the French Isabel label in 1982 in the company of Magic Slim & the Teardrops (reissued by Evidence in 1993), but it was a 1992 set for Flying Fish, Goin' to California (co-produced by guitarist Steve Freund), that probably captured his considerable vocal charms the best.
Odom was a popular attraction on the Windy City circuit right up until the fateful night when he suffered a heart attack while driving from Buddy Guy's Legends to another local blues mecca, the Checkerboard Lounge. He's been missed ever since.
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