Happy Birthday, Otis Clay!

Otis Clay in 1989
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Frans Schellekens/Redferns

Raise a toast to the late, great Otis Clay, born Feb. 11, 1942, to celebrate the time we had with him, and the music he made.

Clay grew up singing gospel music in his home state of Mississippi, before moving to Chicago in 1957 and hooking up with the thriving gospel scene there. Among the acts he sang with were The Golden Jubilaires, The Holy Wonders and The Gospel Songbirds, who made several records in Nashville in the early 1960s, including the song “I Believe.”

Shortly after that was recorded, he began recording secular records for the indie Chicago label One-derful Records, and it was with One-derful that he had his first nationally charting R&B hits, first with “That's How It Is (When You're in Love)" and “A Lasting Love.”

Clay moved to Hi Records in 1971 and he had his most lasting hit - “Trying to Live My Life Without You” - the next year. Clay’s version bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, but a decade later, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band took a live version of the song to No. 5.

Clay died a little more than a month shy of his 74th birthday, on Jan. 8, 2016. May he rest in peace, and may we all enjoy his music forever.

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Let us count the ways.
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