Dino Spells

Dino Spells

Inducted in 2000

Leroy "Dino" Spells was born in Collinsville, Mississippi on November 22, 1928.  When Spells turned 13, he left on his own, bought a bus ticket and moved to St. Louis.  He washed dishes to make a living and eventually bought his first musical instrument, the cheapest instrument he could find, one that cost him a week’s pay - a $15 clarinet.

By listening to the guitar player who rode on St. Louis streetcars at night, Spells taught himself the blues and soon the two were a duo.  “I hang with the blues when it’s bad.  I hang with it when it’s good.  I’ve done other things to survive in life but I’ve always got back to the music thing” Spells says.

In 1945 at the age of 17, Spells moved from St. Louis to Chicago.  He drove with a female friend in her 1941 Buick.  Spells played the clubs on the west and south sides of Chicago for years.

At the age of 25 in 1953, Spells took a Greyhound bus and moved to Los Angeles where he played the Sunset Strip for many years.  It was in Los Angeles that he started playing the guitar.  He plays blues and jazz on many instruments, including clarinet, saxophone, guitar, violin and xylophone.
During his life Spells has taken the stage with some of the world’s famous musicians: Jimmy Reed, Big Joe Turner, Lionel Hampton and Albert Collins.  He toured with Albert Collins for several years.

It was in Los Angeles when he picked up the name "Dino."  He was part of a band and his fellow band members were of Italian heritage and felt Spells also should have an Italian name, so he adopted the name "Dino."

After Los Angeles he lived in Milwaukee for awhile but at the age of 55 eventually made his way to Phoenix, Arizona in 1983 based on a recommendation of a friend.

Since he came to Phoenix Spells has played many venues in the area, including Rhythm Room, Mason Jar, Chars has the Blues, Chez Nous, Cafe Creole, Baby Kay’s, Warsaw Wally’s, Jamie Jay's, Paisley Violin, VooDoo Daddy's, Mill Landing, etc.

Spells has also performed at many Arizona community events, including the Scottsdale VisionFest and a jam session with Sarge Lintecum and Chico Chism at Earth Day Arizona.

Spells played sax on a single with Little Joe Blue (Joseph Valery) in 1980, played alto & tenor sax on Albert Collins’s Don’t Lose Your Cool 1983 album and guitar and alto sax on Johnny Tucker & James Thomas's 1997 Stranded album.  Plus Spells has tracks on several local compilation CDs including Blue Saguaro (vocals/autoharp on Goin' to Chicago track -1993), Desert Blues Vol. 1 (vocals/guitar on Jennie Bea track - 1996) and Bob Corritore/All-Star Blues Sessions (vocals/guitar on Jennie Bea track - 1999).

As of this writing (2016), Dino is still performing in the Phoenix area.

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