Otis Head, 94, of the Plainview community, passed away Tuesday, April 8, 2014, at Heritage Health Care in Fort Oglethorpe.
He was born near Prater’s Mill, north of Varnell at Gobbler’s Knob. He was a member of the Church of Christ.
Mr. Head was an entrepreneur and entertainer that opened a grocery store and restaurant (he was famous for his Otis Burger), the Plainview Superette on Cleveland Highway, in the 1940s. Working to meet the changing needs of the community, his business location changed its focus from food to clothing and shoes to videos and finally tanning and hair salon.
He was a harmonica stylist, prizefighter, Western and Appalachian music promoter and performer, record producer and radio host. He began his performance career competing on a talent show in “Doc” Chamberlain’s Medicine Show hosted by country legend Ramblin’ Tommy Scott in the late 1930s. As a producer, he fostered the careers of multimillion 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.
He promoted music in the north 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 its 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.
He 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 Country 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; and sisters, Ruby, Edith and Betty.
He is survived by his sons, Kenneth O. Head of Atlanta, Chris Davidson of Dalton and Judy “John” Hayes of Dalton; sister, Alise Cline of Palm Bay, Fla.; grandchildren, Holly and Keith Rollins, and Shana and Jim Medlen, both of Dalton, and Glen and Danette Head of Memphis, Tenn.; seven great-grandchildren; special niece, Connie Long; stepchildren; nephews and nieces; longtime friends, Randall Franks, Don and Pam Poteet, and Deborah Jones; and listeners.
The funeral to honor the life of Mr. Head will be Friday at noon at the Pleasant Grove Chapel of Julian Peeples Funeral Home with Minister Brother Doyle Partin and longtime special friend Randall Franks officiating.
Burial will be in Varnell Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, make donations to the following: Central Church of Christ Building Fund, P.O. Box 1527, Dalton, GA 30720; or the Share America Foundation Inc. (shareamericafoundation.org); or the American Cancer Society.
The family will receive friends at the funeral home Friday from 10 a.m. to noon.
You may leave the family a message on the tribute wall, upload photos or light a memorial candle at julianpeeples.com.
Arrangements are by Julian Peeples Funeral Home, Pleasant Grove Chapel, Dalton. For more information, call (706) 259-7455.