Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Johnny Otis "Godfather of rhythm and blues" dies

Johnny Otis, "godfather of rhythm and blues", died on January 17 at the age of 90. 
Otis lived in California and was a singer, producer, songwriter, bandleader and had a radio show of his own on KPFA. His parents were Greek but Johnny was heavily influenced by the music of the afro-american community and has written: "As a kid I decided that if our society dictated that one had to be black or white, I would be black."
One of his successful songs was Willie and the Hand Jive (1958) which has been covered by Eric Clapton, Cliff Richard, The Grateful Dead and other artists.

Johnny Otis was one of the persons who influenced the young Frank Zappa, and Zappa even adopted Otis' moustache and goatee. Johnny Otis' son Shuggie Otis, 15 (!), played bass on one track on Zappa's Hot Rats album in 1969.

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