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Obit: Johnny Otis ('Hand Jive') (1921-2012)

michaelr 20 Jan 12 - 04:16 PM
katlaughing 20 Jan 12 - 05:53 PM
Acme 20 Jan 12 - 08:22 PM
fat B****rd 21 Jan 12 - 07:06 AM
fat B****rd 21 Jan 12 - 07:10 AM
goatfell 21 Jan 12 - 07:33 AM
Cool Beans 21 Jan 12 - 06:17 PM
michaelr 21 Jan 12 - 08:30 PM
NormanD 22 Jan 12 - 05:17 PM
Severn 23 Jan 12 - 12:41 AM
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Subject: Obit: Johnny Otis ('Hand Jive')
From: michaelr
Date: 20 Jan 12 - 04:16 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Johnny Otis, the "godfather of rhythm and blues" who wrote and recorded the R&B classic "Willie and the Hand Jive" and for decades evangelized black music to white audiences as a bandleader and radio host, has died. He was 90.

Otis, who had been in poor health for several years, died at his home in the Los Angeles foothill suburb of Altadena on Tuesday, said his manager, Terry Gould.

Otis, who was white, was born John Veliotes to Greek immigrants and grew up in a black section of Berkeley, where he said he identified far more with black culture than his own. As a teenager, he changed his name because he thought Johnny Otis sounded more black.

"As a kid, I decided that if our society dictated that one had to be black or white, I would be black," he once explained.

His musical tastes clearly reflected that adopted culture and even after he became famous, his dark skin and hair often led audiences and club promoters to assume he was black like his band mates.

Otis was leading his own band in 1945 when he scored his first big hit, "Harlem Nocturne." In 1950, 10 of his songs made Billboard Magazine's R&B chart. His "Willie and the Hand Jive" sold more than 1.5 million copies and was covered years later by Eric Clapton.

He later wrote "Every Beat of My Heart," which was a hit for Gladys Knight & the Pips.

But the influence of Otis was felt most through his ability to recognize and promote talent. He wove into his bands such diverse and legendary R&B vocalists as Etta James, Hank Ballard, Big Mama Thornton and The Robins, the latter a group that would evolve into the Coasters.

He produced Thornton's original recording of "Hound Dog," a song that would later become an even bigger hit for Elvis Presley.

More here.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Johnny Otis ('Hand Jive') (and so much more)
From: katlaughing
Date: 20 Jan 12 - 05:53 PM

Thanks for starting this thread, michael. We heard a wonderful interview of him which they replayed on NPR, today. What an interesting and talented person he was!

Here's one LINK TO NPR from when he passed away and which includes a link to the Fresh Air interview. Well worth listening to, imo.

What a wonder; glad he had such a long and fruitful life.

kat


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Subject: RE: Obit: Johnny Otis ('Hand Jive') (1921-2012)
From: Acme
Date: 20 Jan 12 - 08:22 PM

I heard that interview - it was wonderful!

SRS


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Subject: RE: Obit: Johnny Otis ('Hand Jive') (1921-2012)
From: fat B****rd
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 07:06 AM

An older friend had Ma He's Making Eyes At Me by The Johnny Otis Show featuring Marie Adams and The Three Tons Of Joy. I played it to distraction in the late 50s and only learned later of Mr. Otis and his involvement in so much black music.
RIP Mr O.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Johnny Otis ('Hand Jive') (1921-2012)
From: fat B****rd
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 07:10 AM

In a still respectful vein, doesn't his son Shuggie play a mean guitar?.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Johnny Otis ('Hand Jive') (1921-2012)
From: goatfell
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 07:33 AM

so sad RIP


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Subject: RE: Obit: Johnny Otis ('Hand Jive') (1921-2012)
From: Cool Beans
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 06:17 PM

Always loved Hand Jive. Did you know Johnny Otis' brother Nicholas Veliotes was once U.S. Ambassador to Egypt?


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Subject: RE: Obit: Johnny Otis ('Hand Jive') (1921-2012)
From: michaelr
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 08:30 PM

Yes, Shuggie Otis was a shit-hot guitarist back in the 80s. Not sure if he's still active, but one or more of Johnny's grandsons are playing hereabouts.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Johnny Otis ('Hand Jive') (1921-2012)
From: NormanD
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 05:17 PM

One of his musical 'discoveries', Etta James, has also died. She was a wonderful singer, and one mean woman. Read her autobiog "Rage To Survive" - she really lived a hard life, and it showed in her singing. Johnny Otis gave her the first career break.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Johnny Otis ('Hand Jive') (1921-2012)
From: Severn
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 12:41 AM

Some Johnny Otis recommendations:

For some of the early stuff that made his name-"The Johnny Otis Rhythm & Blues Caravan-The Complete Savoy Recordings" (SAVOY JAZZ 92859-2), a three CD collection makes a good start.

There's some great King/Federal reissues as well, but I don't have them.

One of my favorite LPs is "The Johnny Otis Show Live at Monterey" (Epic EG 30473 as a 2-LP set). It is a recording of one of the many touring shows he put together thriough the years. This version was the all-star lineup he took to the 1970 Monterey Jazz Festival, including Little Esther Phillips, Roy Brown, Ivory Joe Hunter, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Roy Milton, Pee Wee Crayton, Big Joe Turner and Johnny's son Shuggie, among others. With the exception of Shuggie, all were hitmakers on the early R&B charts. A great rockin' party record and unmatched as one of the most fun history lessons that you'll ever be taught.


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