Harmonica stylist and 60-year radio host Otis Head, age 94, of the Plainview Community, died Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at Heritage Health Care in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. He was born near Prater’s Mill, North of Varnell, Ga. at Gobbler’s Knob. Head was also a prizefighter, Western and Appalachian music promoter and performer and record producer. He began his performance career competing on a talent show in “Doc” Chamberlain’s Medicine Show hosted by country legend Rambin’ Tommy Scott in the late 1930’s.
As a producer, he fostered the careers of multi-million selling banjo stylist Raymond Fairchild; country singer Clyde Beavers and numerous bluegrass and gospel acts. He hosted seasonal western shows in Florida and North Carolina featuring an array of western-themed street plays featuring gunfights for audiences in western theme parks. Head was a quick draw pistol artist and usually played the role of the town marshal in the productions.
Otis promoted music shows in the Northwest Georgia area featuring Country Music Hall of Famers Bill Monroe and Charlie Louvin, Boys from Indiana, the Bailes Brothers, the Lewis Family, Randall Franks and Raymond Fairchild. His “Otis Head Show” and it predecessors ran on Dalton area radio for almost 60 years with his final live broadcast on WTTI in March 2014. He began hosting live radio shows featuring country and bluegrass in 1959 on WBLJ. He moved to WRCD for 28 years and finally settled at WTTI sharing bluegrass gospel for 27 years.
Head was an entrepreneur and entertainer that opened the Plainview Superette, a grocery store and restaurant, famous for his Otis Burger, north of Dalton, Ga. in the 1940s. Working to meet the changing needs of the community, his business location changed its focus from food to clothing, shoes to videos and finally to a tanning and hair salon.
Otis was a volunteer of the Share America Foundation donating his time to raise funds for scholarships encouraging youth in Appalachian music. Head was highlighted in Ramblin “Doc” Tommy Scott’s autobiography “Snake Oil, Superstars and Me” in 2007. He was inducted into the Atlanta County Music Hall of Honor for his contributions to music in 2008.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Daniel and Cleo Head; his first wife, Floy Felker Head; his second wife, Mary Pittman Parris; brothers, Euelle, Floyd, Basil, William, and Dewey Head; sisters, Ruby, Edith, and Betty.
He is survived by his sons, Kenneth O. Head of Atlanta, Chris Davidson of Dalton, Judy (John) Hayes of Dalton; sister, Alise Cline of Palm Bay, Florida; grandchildren, Holly and Keith Rollins, Shana and Jim Medlen both of Dalton, and Glen and Danette Head of Memphis, TN; seven great-grandchildren; special niece, Connie Long; step-children, nephews, nieces; long time friends, Randall Franks, Don and Pam Poteet, Deborah Jones and listeners also survive.
The funeral service to honor the life of Mr. Head is Friday April 11, 2014 at 12:00 pm at the Pleasant Grove Chapel of Julian Peeples Funeral Home with Minister Brother Doyle Partin and Randall Franks officiating. Burial will be in Varnell Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the following: Central Church of Christ building fund, PO Box 1527 Dalton GA 30720 or the Share America Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 42, Tunnel Hill, Ga. 30755 (www.shareamericafoundation.org) or the American Cancer Society.