Robert “Bud” Spangler, a drummer, producer and radio host who was active in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past four decades, and the Detroit area prior to that, died of lung cancer on Jan. 16. The place of death was not reported but Spangler lived in Oakland, Calif. He was 75.
Born in Norwalk, Ohio, Dec. 7, 1938, Spangler began playing drums in Michigan in the late 1950s. His broadcasting career began on WKAR-FM around the same time while he attended Michigan State University. He later worked with public radio station WDET-FM in Detroit, hosting the show Jazz Today in the ’60s. He became that station’s jazz program director in 1971, and held the position for four years.
Spangler played gigs in the Detroit area for some time, working with both local jazz artists and nationally known musicians such as Mose Allison. He remained in Michigan through the ’60s where he began engineering recordings by R&B, blues and jazz artists. Much of his recording work was for the short-lived Strata label. He also drummed during this period for Kenny Cox’s Contemporary Jazz Quintet, which recorded for Blue Note, as well as the band Tribe with trumpeter Marcus Belgrave.
In the 1970s, Spangler relocated to the Bay Area, where he co-led a band with trumpeter Tom Peron that continued into the ’90s. Spangler became a member of pianist Jessica Williams’ band in the ’80s. He was also a member of the group Sphere with Larry Nozero and Danny Spencer and played with artists such as Eddie Henderson and Archie Shepp.
Spangler branched out into production in the 1970s. His productions include recordings by Cedar Walton, Giacomo Gates, Dave McKenna, Kenny Burrell, Taylor Eigsti, Ed Reed, Anton Schwartz and others. He continued to engineer recordings as well.
In 2011 a “Salute to Bud Spangler” concert was held in Oakland, featuring Bobby Hutcherson and others. Spangler also continued his radio career in California, on KCSM-FM in San Mateo and KJAZ-FM in San Francisco.