Gospel and blues musician Landon Spradlin, who was a significant part of the Roanoke-area blues scene a few years back, has died from complications of COVID-19, according to the Danville Register & Bee.
Spradlin, a Gretna resident who grew up in Chatham, was 66.
The singer with a powerful soul-blues voice was a fine guitarist as well, who spent more time as a traveling musical minister than as a nightspot shouter in recent years. He and his wife were in New Orleans when he became ill. On their way back to Gretna, she took him to a hospital near Charlotte, North Carolina, where doctors diagnosed him with double pneumonia and coronavirus, according to the Danville paper.
Roanoke blues and rock singer Kerry Hurley, a longtime friend of Spradlin’s, posted to Facebook this morning: “Landon spread the word of God every day he was alive and he praised and worshiped like no other … He will be in my heart until I see his sweet face again in heaven. I love you brother. That’s the last thing he said to me.”
Spradlin performed with another member of Roanoke’s early 2000’s blues scene, James Pace. The pair hung out in New Orleans a few years back, Pace said in a message exchange.
“We played a couple of songs with a band down there,” Pace wrote from France, where he and his family are quarantined. “He sang ‘Soulshine’ by The Allman Brothers and took a lazy crowd up to their feet and singing along. His charisma in music came from his love and trust in god, and he was so soul-filled, not self-filled.”
The Blues Hall of Fame, in Memphis, recognized Spradlin in 2016, inducting him as a Great Blues Artist from Virginia and as an Ambassador from Virginia.
Spradlin, who performed at Blue 5 Restaurant, Blues BBQ Co. and various regional blues festivals, was an occasional member of Hurley’s The Fat Daddy Band, as guitarist/singer Hoppie Vaughan’s substitute.
“Nice guy, great singer and player,” Vaughan wrote in a message exchange. “Sad.”
Hurley wrote in his Facebook post that it is unlikely that Spradlin would be able to have a proper funeral at this time. Hurley will plan a celebration of his friend when people can gather again. “Anyone that had the honor of knowing him and playing music with him should be there,” he wrote.