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2012-02-02 16:32:25

A little more about Johnny Otis

Johnny Otis, a Greek-American, grew up in an African-American neighborhood in Berkeley and always felt most at home in black communities. A drummer, singer and bandleader, his recording career began in the mid-1940s; his first hit was a big band version of "Harlem Nocturne." His biggest record hit, "Willie and the Hand Jive," came in 1958, but that was just one of hundreds of great records over a nearly 50-year span. His records ranged from an album based on highly explicit African-American folk humor, released under the name of "Snatch and the Poontangs" (we have a track from that on the show) to gospel music; in the 1980s and 90s he pastored churches in both Northern and Southern California. There's a nice biography of Johnny called "Midnight at the Barrelhouse" by George Lipsitz. Johnny also wrote two books himself, ran an organic farm, marketed his own brand of apple juice, was chief of staff for a U.S. Congressman…that man knew no limits! I just realized that on the show I forgot to mention his paintings.

On Saturday's show: songs that ask questions, from "Who Put the Benzedrine In Mrs. Murphy's Ovaltine" to "What's The Ugliest Part Of Your Body?" A tip of my top hat to Johnny Heering for suggesting that topic.

Previous Replies:
2012-02-08 19:20:39
From: Kevin J
Johnny Otis
As usual, we tune in to be entertained and we walk away educated! Unfortunately we are going to experience many more like Johnny Otis in the next few years. After all, with the life most of the music starts of the era (50's and 60's)had it is not surprising that they are passing on to the big orchestra pit in the sky at this point, they are in their 70's and such, it is surprising that some of them have survived themselves, ala Keith Richards, to be passing on at this point in their lives. It is amazing what the human body can take, eh?
Thanks for the lesson Dr.

Kevin from Orland Park