It is taking longer than expected to fetch the next song to play. The music should be playing soon. If you get tired of waiting, you can try reloading your browser.


Please check our Help page for information about troubleshooting Pandora on your browser.
Your Pandora One subscription will expire shortly.
close
Your Pandora One trial subscription will expire shortly. Upgrade to continue unlimited, ad-free listening.
You've listened to hours of Pandora this month. Consider upgrading to Pandora One.
Close
Hi . Pandora is using Facebook to personalize your experience. Learn MoreNo Thanks
-0:00
0:00
Change Skin

We created Pandora to put the Music Genome Project directly in your hands

It’s a new kind of radio –
stations that play only music you like

 
Create an account for free. Register
Now Playing
Music Feed
My Profile
Create a Station
People who also like this

Johnny Otis

Johnny Otis modeled an amazing number of contrasting musical hats over a career spanning more than half a century. Bandleader, record producer, talent scout, label owner, nightclub impresario, disc jockey, TV variety show host, author, R&B pioneer, rock & roll star -- Otis answered to all those descriptions and quite a few more. Not bad for a Greek-American who loved jazz and R&B so fervently that he adopted the African-American culture as his own.

California-born John Veliotes changed his name to the blacker-sounding Otis when he was in his teens. Drums were his first passion -- he spent time behind the traps with the Oakland-based orchestra of Count Otis Matthews and kept time for various Midwestern swing outfits before settling in Los Angeles during the mid-'40s and joining Harlan Leonard's Rockets, then resident at the Club Alabam.

It wasn't long before the Alabam's owner entreated Otis to assemble his own orchestra for house-band duties. The group's 1945 debut sides for Excelsior were solidly in the big-band jazz vein and included an arrangement of the moody "Harlem Nocturne" that sold well. Shouter Jimmy Rushing fronted the band for two tracks at the same date. Otis' rep as a drummer was growing; he backed both Wynonie Harris and Charles Brown (with Johnny Moore's Three Blazers) that same year.

The Otis outfit continued to record for Excelsior through 1947 (one date featured Big Jay McNeely on sax), but his influence on L.A.'s R&B scene soared exponentially when he and partner Bardu Ali opened the Barrelhouse Club in Watts. R&B replaced jazz in Otis' heart; he pared the big band down and discovered young talent such as the Robins, vocalists Mel Walker and Little Esther Phillips, and guitarist Pete Lewis that would serve him well in years to come.

Otis signed with Newark, New Jersey-based Savoy Records in 1949, and the R&B hits came in droves: "Double Crossing Blues," "Mistrustin' Blues," and "Cupid's Boogie" all hit number one that year (in all, Otis scored ten Top Ten smashes that year alone!); "Gee Baby," "Mambo Boogie," and "All Nite Long" lit the lamp in 1951; and "Sunset to Dawn" capped his amazing run in 1952 (vocals were shared by Esther, Walker, and other members of the group). By then, Otis had branched out to play vibes on many waxings.

In late 1951, Otis moved to Mercury, but apart from a Walker-led version of Floyd Dixon's "Call Operator 210," nothing found pronounced success with the public. A 1953-1955 contract with Don Robey's Peacock logo produced some nice jump blues sides but no hits (though the Otis orchestra backed one of his many discoveries, Big Mama Thornton, on her chart-topping "Hound Dog," as well as a young Little Richard while at Peacock). Otis was a masterful talent scout; among his platinum-edged discoveries were Jackie Wilson, Little Willie John, Hank Ballard, and Etta James (he produced her debut smash "Roll with Me Henry").

In 1955, Otis took studio matters into his own hands, starting up his own label, Dig Records, to showcase his own work as well as his latest discoveries (including Arthur Lee Maye & the Crowns, Tony Allen, and Mel Williams). Rock & roll was at its zenith in 1957 when the multi-instrumentalist signed on with Capitol Records; billed as the Johnny Otis Show, he set the R&B and pop charts ablaze in 1958 with his shave-and-a-haircut beat, "Willie and the Hand Jive," taking the vocal himself (other singers then with the Otis Show included Mel Williams and the gargantuan Marie Adams & the Three Tons of Joy). During the late '50s, Otis hosted his own variety program on L.A. television, starring his entire troupe (and on one episode, Lionel Hampton), and did a guest shot in a 1958 movie, Juke Box Rhythm.

After cutting some great rock & roll for Capitol from 1957 to 1959 with only one hit to show for it, Otis dropped anchor at King Records in 1961-1962 (in addition to his own output, Otis' band also backed Johnny "Guitar" Watson on several sides). Later in the decade, Otis recorded some ribald material for Kent and watched as his young son Shuggie built an enviable reputation as a blues guitarist while recording for Columbia. Father and son cut an album together for Alligator in 1982, accurately entitled The New Johnny Otis Show.

In later years, the multi-talented Otis added operating a California health-food emporium to his endless list of wide-ranging accomplishments. He was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Otis died at home in Altadena, California in January 2012 at the age of 90. If blues ever boasted a renaissance man among its ranks, Johnny Otis surely filled that bill. ~ Bill Dahl, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Rhythm & Blues Caravan - The Complete Savoy Recordings

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3

Comments

Like his music.
East coasters like me missed out on Johnny Otis. A real shame. Great groove. Thanx pandora
As a teenager during the 50's I used to listen to the Johnny Otis show every night on KFOX radio from Long Beach, California. I also watched his TV show on KTLA Channel 5 from Los Angeles.
Reminds me a bit of Jimmy Rushing
Johnny Otis, Hunter Hancock and Huggy Boy were the only DJ's in So. Cal that played Black music. And the amazing thing is they were three White. For three White guys, they had a whole lot of soul.
I grew up listening to Johnny Otis, Hunter Hancock, and Huggy Boy. Memories that have lasted a lifetime. Johnny came on at 6pm on KFOX, just in time for me to dance while doing the dishes. HH came on at 2pm on KPOP. My girlfriends had a portable radio and we listened to him on our way home from school. If I was luck enough to have a baby sitting job, I could stay up late at night and listen to Huggy Boy. Music was everything to me and thank God for these pioneers of R & B,
I think Johnny Otis is a little over rated yes he is good, but not that good IMO.
Mezz Mezzrow is the real deal as far as black/white musicians go. Really The Blues By Mezz Mezzrow is the greatest book of the jazz era's golden age...
i have crazy country hop on capitol records
RIP thanks for many years of good music on KFOX
Willie And The Hand Jive was lost before the hand jive itself
I'm not finished, I went to Hollywood when he had that TV program and have been listening to him forever,was never rea;ized for his talents as much as he should, also had him on his radio show in the 70's and of course we can go back to the Barrel House, probably in the 40's, I don't quite go baclk that far,but he really is something else, and I am a White Chick of 74, orginially from East L.A. still rocking!
Johnny Otis, who discovered Little Esther, when she was a babe, Unblievable Talented
Johnny Otis wow. I was raised on his music and of course Little Ester wow what a voice and style. As a kid I used to sneak to places he was playing at and just listen. What an experience.
SUCH A GREAT TALENT,APPLE DIDNT FALL FROM THE TREE.SON SHUGGIE OTIS EXCEPTIONALY TALENTED JUST LIKE HIS FATHER,ONE TRYLLY MISS THIS TYPE OF SOUNDS
I have been into Johnny Otis many many years. It's too bad that more of his msic is not readily available. I had The New Johnny Otis Show on vinyl. I would love to get is on disc. This is truly a great man as far as R&B is concerned. Robert Spence
Snatch & The Poontangs! hahaha brilliant
sawebbx1
Johny Otis! Johny Otis!

We're sorry, but a browser plugin or firewall may be preventing Pandora from loading.

In order to use Pandora internet radio, please upgrade to a more current browser.

Please check our Help page for more information.

In order to use Pandora internet radio, please upgrade to a more current browser
or install a newer version of Flash (v.10 or later).

In order to use Pandora internet radio, please install Adobe Flash (v.10 or later).

[87, 126, 84, 71, 96, 85, 69, 96, 122, 113, 106, 104, 97, 96, 95, 98, 75, 84, 116, 73, 86, 109, 104, 123, 112, 101, 73, 94, 82, 91, 123, 101, 113, 86, 100, 122, 87, 109, 93, 112, 106, 119, 101, 117, 78, 109, 95, 111, 78, 104, 93, 117, 84, 109, 101, 84, 74, 92, 83, 125, 84, 90, 89, 116, 65, 91, 115, 65, 85, 83, 91, 103, 86, 110, 79, 67, 90, 64, 120, 91, 104, 96, 77, 113, 69, 122, 116, 123, 78, 84, 116, 85, 72, 101, 115, 101, 82, 86, 127, 127, 87, 94, 114, 105, 78, 66, 96, 87, 94, 111, 75, 125, 87, 102, 99, 112, 82, 82, 91, 100, 68, 114, 78, 122, 67, 66, 95, 122, 101, 122, 81, 71, 110, 105, 99, 78, 100, 77, 84, 112, 65, 82, 88, 72, 104, 104, 102, 114, 99, 125, 119, 68, 73, 79, 76, 125, 77, 113, 111, 105, 95, 79, 111, 78, 108, 92, 125, 106, 70, 111, 105, 100, 107, 88, 84, 106, 69, 78, 111, 90, 86, 101, 91, 127, 115, 125, 88, 106, 74, 88, 112, 79, 78, 110, 73, 71, 105, 125, 107, 95, 112, 100, 92, 90, 103, 123, 78, 64, 122, 95, 90, 112, 100, 71, 91, 116, 98, 88, 94, 91, 84, 117, 78, 83, 102, 106, 113, 122, 74, 103, 124, 126, 106, 64, 125, 101, 126, 76, 90, 85, 117, 98, 82, 66, 73, 89, 88, 102, 103, 72, 124, 74, 107, 105, 74, 98, 88, 85, 73, 78, 97, 71, 127, 97, 95, 84, 124, 117, 127, 109, 93, 124, 118, 102, 104, 115, 104, 71, 118, 112, 86, 69, 119, 68, 83, 72, 91, 86, 91, 115, 68, 77, 74, 69, 91, 103, 116, 64, 82, 112, 74, 91, 79, 109, 67, 75, 67, 97, 105, 108, 86, 103, 111, 73, 93, 83, 83, 67, 98, 112, 87, 127, 84, 85, 101, 110, 117, 94, 66, 114, 103, 88, 118, 101, 98, 70, 74, 110, 89, 69, 84, 91, 121, 65, 112, 87, 116, 73, 89, 83, 75, 69, 68, 108, 112, 69, 75, 75, 83, 79, 80, 77, 75, 100, 77, 112, 98, 75, 65, 93, 72, 97, 106, 103, 103, 98, 123, 93, 77, 75, 125, 72, 117, 119, 88, 109, 75, 92, 94, 123, 80, 126, 109, 64, 113, 95, 88, 116, 124, 68, 123, 103, 111, 102, 119, 122, 123, 64, 107, 108, 105, 113, 119, 79, 86, 104, 66, 120, 88, 82, 91, 119, 76, 72, 72, 124, 127, 122, 64, 124, 119, 98, 123, 117, 111, 117, 101, 107, 121, 92, 126, 91, 127, 108, 99, 93, 96, 115, 102, 92, 75, 90, 65, 93, 108, 115, 106, 109, 93, 103, 73, 93, 87, 68, 117, 66, 103, 74, 69, 103, 69, 87, 101, 113, 86, 67, 64, 86, 92, 99, 100, 71, 97, 110, 120, 92, 86, 97, 116, 64, 87, 98, 84, 124, 115, 120, 85, 92, 91, 69, 91, 80, 105, 101, 111, 123, 65, 81, 127, 87, 81, 110]