Otis Ball

Have you seen this man?


the SEARCH FOR Otis ball...

Where it began...

My name is Frederick Stark. You can call me Fred.

Fall of 1989, I began attending Illinois Math & Science Academy as a sophomore. IMSA is a state run, live in high school for "the gifted." I dunno about that. I got in.

Let's cut to the chase. I was barely 14. Living in a dorm. Very fortunately, there were classes above me who had been doing it for two years at that point. There was a camaraderie. No fraternity hazing. "ONE OF US!"

It was probably January 1990 when the word started to spread. "Otis Ball & The Chains are coming back!" I had no idea what that meant. I was about to find out. This Otis Ball fellow was apparently a regular performer at IMSA. One of the other members of the band was a live-in resident counselor at IMSA and had only left the year before. When I asked upper classmen why this was a big deal, they were more than happy to tell me. Many had copies of his recently released album. A couple had demo tapes and unreleased recordings. I still didn't know who Otis Ball was, but it was very clear it was a big deal that he was coming back to IMSA. This was my first live rock show. Maybe you remember yours? Kinda special.

I always expected to hear more from Otis Ball. Radio silence. After listening to the record recently, I decided to spend some time finding out what happened to him. Easy place to start. The original Chains guitarist, singer and cowriter, Steve Blunt, is still performing professionally. I contacted him and asked for an interview. He gave me that and more. He had a cassette tape Otis made with alternate takes and demos from that time. He also told me, to the best of his memory, the facts and stories behind those songs.

I am not providing these tracks to make money. I do not own any of them. I have opened an escrow account for Mr. Ball. I am offering these tracks as 'Pay what you want.' If you have a Bandcamp account, you can download for free. Anyone can stream them for free.

I have sent a few messages to Mr. Ball on three different platforms to no response. I do not want to come across as a stalker, so I am respecting his privacy.