R&B Guitar; Baby Face, Boyz II Men, lived Huntsville, AL

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Chalmers "Spanky" Alford

Alabama-based guitarist Chalmers "Spanky" Alford passed away on March 24, 2008. He was an extraordinarily talented and humble musician whose musical range spans many different styles from Gospel and Blues to Rock and Soul and R&B. Chalmers toured and collaborated with a slew of well-know acts including D'Angelo, Angie Stone, Eric Benet, RH Factor, Tony Toni Tone, Ali Shaheed Muhamad, and Raphael Saadiq. He also co-wrote the song "Proper Nice" on Joss Stone's album "Introducing Joss Stone" that went to Number 1 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart.

Chalmers "Spanky" Alford's credits include: Angie Stone - "Bone 2 Pic With U" Eric Benet - "Why You Follow Me" Eric Benet - "That's Just My Way" RH Factor - "How I Know..." Tony Toni Tone - "Let Me Know" Eric Benet - "Loving The Day Away" Joss Stone - "Proper Nice"

Chalmers signed with Missing Link Music in 1997. He was a valuable member of the Missing Link Music family. He had an optimistic outlook on life and toward his music. "One of the most amazing things about 'Spanky' is how he can have a phone conversation while playing the most intricate and melodic guitar licks. Pure talent!", remembers a staff memeber.

Source: www.myspace.com/spankyl5

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 -A True Treasure Is Lost: A Tribute to Spanky Alford by Sonny Edwards

Chalmers Edward Alford (or as most of us knew him) Spanky

May 22, 1955 – March 24, 2008

On Tuesday, March 25th I got the dreaded news from several sources that Spanky had crossed over. It wasn't so much a surprise as a shock to my system. I had known for years of Spanky's deteriorating health, but still I was not prepared for the pain I experienced when Donnie Cox first gave me the news. Marcus Pope supplied the details of the service.

The world, and our community of musicians, has given up yet another of our musical treasures at far too young an age. The loss to his immediate family is beyond measure. For all of that I have deep regret. The greater loss, perhaps, is not that of a music industry icon however, but rather of one of the most decent, kind, honorable and humble men who ever lived.

I want to try to describe Spanky for those of you who were not fortunate enough to know him personally, but this is hard to do in mere words. Maybe because I have all these visions of his expressions and reactions to things, or maybe because Spanky's life was so musical it seemed more like a soundtrack, and you have to hear a soundtrack. How do you try to explain, to someone who didn't hear it for themselves, a guy who, while most noted for his incredible jazz guitar phrasings on hollow body jazz boxes, could pick up any kind of guitar and play any style, as if he had invented and perfected the genre himself. To call him simply amazing doesn't begin to do him justice. In fact any praise I might utter is gross understatement.

I suggest you Google Spanky and enjoy some of what you find. Spanky was credited on different albums under different names. When you search, search for Spanky Alford, Eddie "Spanky" Alford, Chalmers "Spanky" Alford, and combinations.

He was one of the true GREAT people I have had the privilege to call my friend. Not just the masterful guitarist, considered by many to be one of the world's best jazz guitarist, but also the great and wonderful man. Spanky was always giving to others, responding to the constant request of his time, talents, and resources. Regardless of how exhausted and in need of rest, or how much pain he might be in, he always responded positively. I don't believe I ever knew anyone whose life was more a reflection of the love and peace of Jesus Christ. Spanky is home now. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him and his music, but never forgotten.

Spanky was so many things to so many people. A loving husband to his beautiful wife, Shirley. A proud father and grandfather. A true friend to many people all across this country and beyond. He was a good listener. If you had a problem, and needed to find a solution, he was a great advisor. If you had a story to share he was attentive. If it was a funny story he made it all the more so with his response. His smile and laughter were priceless. As in everything Spanky, his timing was flawless. And he had fantastic and funny stories of his own.

He was also very spiritual and one of the most generous souls I ever knew. Once as we were walking down the sidewalk, we passed a fellow sitting down we had never seen before. After a few steps Spanky said to "wait a minute". I saw him turn around, walk up and introduce himself, and inquire if everything was all right with the man. Upon learning the young man was depressed and going through a hard time, he found a quiet and private place to sit, and talked with the guy for over an hour, really listening to him, encouraging him, offering advice and trying to instill a bit of hope. I saw and spoke with that young man a couple of years later and he confided in me that Spanky had saved his life. He said he was seriously considering suicide and had made the decision to go through with it, and a few moments later Spanky walked past him, turned and walked back and asked if he was O.K. When I told Spanky about my conversation with the young man, he played down his own significance, and just said, "Something told me that kid needed to talk to somebody". We never spoke of it again.

I could write for days and not run short of interesting, sometimes funny or outright amazing stories about Spanky. I would, however, rather share a few comments by others about what Spanky meant to their lives. I recorded these statements at a musical memorial and tribute held for Spanky at Saint Luke's Missionary Baptist Church on Friday night, March 28. Well before the program began it was standing room only, with an estimated crowd of nearly two thousand. A host of great musicians and artist from near and far were present to pay their respects in song, poems and by sharing memories of Spanky. The performances were tremendous and deeply moving. One after another stepped up to the mic to describe the details of how Spanky had played on their album, helped with their career, made connections for them, encouraged them, personally enriching their lives. And most made reference to what a spiritually uplifting and healing effect Spanky had brought to their lives. There were many funny tales of everyday experiences, from the studio and the road. These were people who knew Eddie Alford as a colleague, collaborator, as a man with a wonderful sense of humor, and most importantly as a dear and cherished friend. An emotional throng of friends and fans hung on every word, with the occasional "amen".

The comments below were made about Spanky after the program by some of those in attendance, and reflect the high regard of his peers and fans.

" I met Spanky around 1982, when he started the gospel group Sons of Christ. He was my guitar teacher. I was amazed at how he could play everything by George Benson. Spanky was the most inspirational guitar player I ever ran across. He was patient, kind, and would teach you anything you wanted to learn. When I heard the news of Spanky's death I was just crushed, like my heart just fell on the ground, and there's still a big empty spot in my soul right now that Spanky is gone. His legacy will live on through all these musicians he touched, not only in the Huntsville area, but nationwide. Spanky, from Leshone, rest in peace." - Leshone Lankford

"He meant to me what he meant to everyone else, and that was just pure music, love, the pure essence of both, and we'll miss him" – A tearful Jim Parker

"Spanky was really an awesome guy, an awesome musician, and an awesome pool player, a really nice guy who loved God. He taught me about playing in the pocket and I just really appreciated knowing him." – Chris Eldridge, independent drummer.

"I actually had the pleasure of playing with Spanky, and I just like the whole atmosphere he would bring with him when he would play, because he knew what he was gonna do before we knew what we were gonna do, and while we would be on stage trying to decide what song we were gonna play, Spanky would just go ahead and start playing a song and everybody would just join in. It was Spanky's show and he knew how to keep everybody in order. That's what I remember most about Spanky" - Reggie Smith, Saxophonist

"I first played with Spanky when I was about 17 or 18 years old. I had seen him at the Jazz Factory. It was the most fun I'd ever had on a gig, at that age. I didn't know who I was playing with at the time, if I had I probably would have just gotten up and left, or choked, but Spanky was a great man. The guy had music flowing through his veins, and every note he played was right from his soul, and translated. I think he left more of an impact on people than probably he ever knew. He'll be missed." - Brian Palmieri, drummer

"I just wanted to say I really enjoyed working with Spanky and playing around with him, he was an inspiration to my life. I love him and I'll always have him in my heart." – Shawn Moore, saxophone player

"Spanky, he was my everything when it comes to music. He taught me when I was an infant, and I grew into a music ministry through him. " - Alvin Kirby, bass player

"Spanky was one on the world's greatest, if not the greatest, guitar and bass players. More than that, he was an even better person who gave of himself unselfishly to anyone. I had the pleasure of not only playing with and knowing Spanky for most of my life but he actually married into my family. Along with music, I learned life lessons from him and his experiences that I will always cherish. I can't even begin to count the number of recordings, shows, events that we played on together. Even though he's gone physically, he and his music will live on in all of us. I consider it a tremendous blessing and honor to have known him. Continued prayers for Shirley and the family. Love you and see you in Heaven when I get there " - Cedric Draper, Keyboards

" Spanky was a wonderful guy. I never knew a musician who knew as much music and could play as well as he did, he was just unreal. I saw him a couple of weeks ago, walked into the store where he was teaching at T. Shepard's, and he said" You got your guitar?" I told him no, and he told me to get one off the wall. He gave me a lesson right there on the spot. I asked him what I owed him and he just waved me off and said, "You don't owe me anything'." That's just how Spanky was. He was such a genuine fellow, and I loved him to death." - Josh Oliver, friend and guitar student

"Spanky was definitely a good friend of mine. I met him in 1985 and we traveled the road together with The Mighty Clouds of Joy. One thing I will have to say about Spanky, if you came to any quartet show, you could find Spanky in any dressing room, and Spanky would have a crowd surrounding him, and he was gonna be serenading people, playing anything from Country & Western to Gospel to Jazz to the Beverly Hillbillies- Spanky just did it all. I'm just so glad to be here to support my brother and his wife, Shirley. Thank God for the angels God has blessed her with and Brother Spanky, we love you man, we love you Shirley and we'll see you on the other side, Uncle Eddie - Alphonso "Cheese Burger"McClain, Mighty Clouds of Joy

"I met Spanky in 1995 and we have been great friends ever since then. He has befriended my Father, and he's been a light shining on my whole family. We had a lot of good times. When we would finish doing shows on the road I would often go to his room, and even after the concerts he would still be playing, steadily being a blessing to people. He has definitely left a legacy and we just want to pay tribute to him, and we want to thank God for his wife Sister Shirley, and we hope and trust everyone will continue to pray for the family." - Ron Staples, Mighty Clouds of Joy

"I met Spanky way back in '77 I believe. I'm gonna make this real short. The bottom line is everybody has great things to say about Spanky…so do I. My words for Spanky would be what a man, what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man!" - Tony Grady, bass player, Mavis Staple group

"Spanky played with me for a lot of years, and I always knew that he was a genius on the guitar, and a great, great person. We talked constantly, and we had just talked two weeks ago about him playing on the new project we've got coming out soon, and he was mentioning some songs he wanted me to do, and he was gonna help me with. I'd just like to say to Huntsville, and to everyone who might read this article, it's a great loss to have lost Eddie Alford, better known as Spanky. He is going to be missed." - Joe Ligon, lead singer and founding member Mighty Clouds of Joy

"Spanky worked along with me here at St. Luke's Church. He was also planning to play on my project that's coming up with college and high school gospel choirs. I went to him and said I had an idea to do a recording, and I wanted him to play on it because of his expertise and he was working with me on that project. He was a great person to know," - Michael Marshall, Director of Worship, St Luke's Missionary Baptist Church

" I met Spanky about eight years ago. I didn't know who he was, but he turned out to be a great friend, and he is a great spirit in my life and a great instructor. I stayed under his tutelage for as long as I could. I'm going to miss him. I just hope he's in a better place than we are, and in time I'm going to try to carry his legacy as best I can with all that he taught me." - Reggie Cook, guitarist and friend

"I met Spanky about 12 years ago at a local music store, and Spanky was one of the gifted ones who God gave a special gift to. One thing I will always remember about Spanky is he was always willing to share his gift with anybody and everybody who might ask him to, and I believe God made him even better because of that. I'm grateful I had the chance to know Spanky. He was a lot of encouragement to me when I started to play guitar. To his wife, I pray for her and her family, and hope she will continue to carry on his legacy." - Noel Lee, student and friend

" I am a dear friend of Spanky's and also a student. Spanky taught me to love my guitar and he taught me how to play my guitar. He helped teach me how to make my guitar talk and to make beautiful music. Spanky was a phenomenon in his own life and he became a phenomenon in my life."- Stephanie Strong, guitar student and friend

"Spanky was my guitar teacher and a dear friend and I guess I was his favorite chef. I used to cook all this food and we shared such good times, and I will miss my dear friend very much." Vincent Reed, guitar student and friend

"The thing about Spanky that strikes awe is how gentle a man he was and how giving a man he was, and how he cared so much for people. He will be sorely missed as our guitarist from the music ministry, but more than that we will be missing a serious and dear friend. We pray God will bless Shirley. We were glad to be a part and be able to house a musical tribute in his honor." - Pastor T.C Johnson, Pastor St. Luke's Church

"I've been knowing Spanky since 1985 and he's always been a caring and loving person and we'll miss him and hope to see him soon in Heaven. Not too soon, but in a twinkling." - Marcus Pope, percussionist extraordinaire and friend

"He was the greatest man I've ever known." Tre Calhoun, musician

"I'm Spanky's oldest sister, originally from Philly, but I moved to Darlington, S.C., and I'm going to miss him - Lois Alford, Spanky's sister

I'm glad we had this opportunity to see so many people and talk about Spanky. I grew up with him, and he was a big inspiration in my life. I'm not in the field of music, but I always admired him for what he did, and the different people he helped. When he got sick, many times when he was going through his trials and tribulations, I would be there to try and encourage him. I'd try to say some things that would comfort him, but he was the kind of guy, when you tried to encourage him, he'd wind up encouraging you. He never complained regardless of what his situation might be, he was a straight up fellow and he always talked about Jesus. He was a man with a Christian heart and he shared his love. He loved his family, his wife, and his children. They say he was a legend, and I don't know what a legend is supposed to be about, but I know he was a beautiful human being. We are all gong to miss him and I just ask everyone to pray for his wife and family and heal them. One thing I know, he still lives in our hearts, and when we reflect on some of the things or conversations it brings a smile to your face and I love him and he will always live in my heart." Deacon Alford, Spanky's cousin.

"I just want to say that my dad is going to be truly missed. I learned a lot from my dad over the years, and I want to say that he was a legend in my book and a legend in many other people's eyes. He was the greatest dad that any child could ever have. I know he's looking down and smiling right now, and I'm going to join him one day. God bless you and we love you dad." - Taiwin, son of Spanky Alford


Spanky was working on a CD of his own which will soon be released. The title is "From Me To You" by Spanky Alford". There is also a plan to release a DVD of Spanky's guitar teaching techniques. Stay tuned. You can read other comments at http://www.myspace.com/spankyL5.

So many people who wanted to make comments for this article were unable, due to the sheer numbers and time constraints. As part of a continuing tribute to the legacy of Eddie "Spanky" Alford, The Valley Planet will post this article in the blog section of our Myspace site, where further comments about Spanky and what he meant to the lives of those he touched may be added in the future. Check in often for updates at

Chalmers "Spanky" Alford was a tremendous example of a dedicated musician who was always striving to improve and never failed to impress his fellow musicians and admirers. Missing Link Music continues to celebrate Chalmers' life and legacy through his timeless music.

Source: http://www.myspace.com/valleyplanet

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