Ottis Coleman, inspired by his Mother and the local church organist, began playing music at the age of 5. At 11, he was hospitalized with a serious illness and after spending 6 months in the hospital, he was sent home to 6 months isolation. It was during this time that his parents purchased a Sears guitar to help keep him occupied.
His sophomore year in high school was a significant time for Ottis. He started playing lead guitar in a band called Yesterday’s Heritage. It was at this time that he met bass player Tommy Jo (Stump) Sanders and they began collaborating on original material. They played mostly dance halls in the country in and around Central Texas. It was also during his sophomore year that he met Martha Janssen who, it turns out, is the love of his life. As members of Yesterday’s Heritage began to graduate high school and leave the area, Ottis and Tommy Jo formed a new band called Honest John which also included Chuck Lewis on drums.
After graduating from high school, Ottis joined 1900 Storm out of Houston. His collaboration with Tommy Jo continued and they played clubs in Houston and Galveston like the Cellar and Catacombs/Of Our Own. They also appeared on the Larry Kane show in Houston playing several original compositions.
Ottis moved to Austin in the Fall of 1972 and, along with Tommy Jo and Dusty Wakeman, began to form a band that would gig locally in Austin. After seeing a posting while looking for drummers, they spoke to Rodney Craig (later of the Cobras) who was living in Lubbock. The three of them went to Lubbock and moved Rodney to Austin. They played the usual frat party circuit as well as clubs like Mother Earth, The Bucket, and Hole in the Wall. Dusty (who has a mind for business) was perturbed to give up a Saturday night gig in October of 1973 so Ottis and Martha could get married.
In1974 he and Martha moved back to Houston and, along with Tommy Jo and Chuck began the second coming of Honest John which now included the multi-talented Patrick Brennan who played bass, keyboards, saxophone, and flute. Again, life took members of the band in different directions. By 1976 Ottis was playing guitar in Buzz Bone, a band based out of Houston. This band included Dan Mitchell (drums) and Tom Moore (keyboards) both formerly of the Moving Sidewalks, as well as Dusty Wakeman (bass) and Jack Price (guitar). They were a touring act that included gigs at the Armadillo World Headquarters and Mother Earth in Austin and The Starwood in Los Angeles. They recorded at Indigo Ranch which, at the time, was owned by the Moody Blues.
Ottis moved back to Austin in 1978 where he along with Darrel Melton (drums), Dickey Sanders (bass) and Blas Coy (guitar) formed Taxi. In 1981 he began playing with the Wommack Brothers band with Kevin and Keith Wommack. The Wommack Brothers toured all over the country and opened shows for a lot of big name people.
The first version of the Ottis Coleman Band was formed somewhere around 1982. This was a trio including Brad Mock on bass and John Powell on drums. They gigged locally and also began working with engineer extraordinaire, Bill Johnson, at Riverside Sound recording Ottis Coleman originals.
Marriage, kids, and life took over for a while and Ottis began working as a guitar clinician demonstrating guitars, amps, signal processors for numerous manufacturers of musical instruments. He spent many years
teaching guitar and working in music stores. Most of this time there was a band. Many players came and went
working on original songs as the writing continued but live performances were few and far between. Many of the demos recorded during this period were met with high praise but a recording contract remained out of reach.
It was in 2005 that Ottis got a call from Ken Cottrell (keyboardist and songwriter). Ken had a band called Big Bonus Trio and they needed a guitar player. It was here that Ottis first met Mark Tays (drummer). The band mostly played originals penned by Ken Cottrell. They played clubs in Central Texas showcasing Ken’s larger than life personality. While in this band Ottis rekindled his love of live performance. Sadly, Ken was killed when hit by a drunk driver while riding his motorcycle.
In 2007 Ottis and Mark found Robert Hilton (bass player) and they formed the Ottis Coleman Band playing original songs. The band has been busy playing shows primarily in Austin and Central Texas. They’ve become a mainstay with the Lake Travis summer scene. November 2009 saw the release of “Let it Go” the bands first full length CD with plans for a follow up CD and video in 2010. The band can be seen regularly in and around Austin’s busy live music scene playing Threadgill’s World Headquarters, Antones’ and The Saxon Pub to name a few.