Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Spann became known for his distinct piano style. Spann was Muddy Waters' pianist from 1952 to 1960 before forming his own band. In the late 1960s, he appeared on albums with Buddy Guy, Peter Green, and Fleetwood Mac.
Fortunately, several films of his playing are available on DVD including the Newport Folk Festival (1960), while his singing is also featured on the American Folk Blues Festival (1963) and The Blues Masters (1966).
Following his passing from liver cancer in Chicago, Illinois in 1970, he was interred in the Burr Oak Cemetery, Alsip, Illinois.