Thursday, January 19, 2012

Crossover Artist

Johnny Otis died on Tuesday.  Many will not remember the author of "Willie and the Hand Jive" or the launcher of a number of big singing careers (Big Mama Thornton, Etta James - to name two).  He grew up in Berkeley.  He was white but was closely associated with Rhythm and Blues. Most people thought he was Black.  Over his life he did varied things - he was an artist, worked for Merv Dymally (former California Lieutenant Governor), he even helped his son sell organic vegetables.   He was married to his wife for 70 years.   In one of the articles about him he was quoted as saying "The music isn't just the notes, it's the culture — the way grandma cooked, the way grandpa told stories, the way the kids walked and talked,"   Here he is with the Three Tons of Joy. (One of his backup groups)   What I liked about him was (as one friend said) "he never seemed to get bogged down."

1 comment:

Dr. Tax in Sacramento said...

Etta James died soon after Otis. Etta James was discovered by Otis. She had a marvelous voice.