Although they were brought together strictly to perform in the John Belushi-starring film Animal House, Otis Day & the Knights continued living up to their claim as "the number one party band in America" for decades afterward. Led by effervescent vocalist/actor DeWayne Jessie, the group continued to inspire dancing and good times with their treatment of late-'50s and early-'60s R&B and rock. Madison, Wisconsin-born Jessie began performing early. As a teen, he wore a mouse suit to entertain diners at a local Chuck E. Cheese restaurant. Making his film debut in Jeff Bridges' 1970 flick Halls of Anger, he went on to appear in Car Wash, Thank God It's Friday, and Where the Buffalo Roam. He received an Image Award as a "supporting character" in The Bingo Long Traveling All Stars and Motor Kings.
Jessie based his life-changing portrayal of the fictitious Otis Day on his brother, Obie "Young" Jessie, who played in the Flairs. When Animal House proved to be a major commercial success, and became one of the top 50 grossing films of all time, producers Ron Kurtz and Don Polodor encouraged the band to tour. An immediate hit, Otis Day & the Knights performed more than 260 sold-out concerts the first year. Primarily a live band, Otis Day & the Knights only recorded one album -- Shout, produced by George Clinton and released in 1989. A concert video, Otis!, My Man!, had been released in 1986. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of Animal House, Otis Day & the Knights embarked on a 70-city tour in August 2002. ~ Craig Harris