Otis, Johnny

Otis, Johnny (b. John Veliotes)

(1921–  ) musician; born in Vallejo, Calif. A self-styled "white Negro" who worked with African-American musicians throughout his career, he began as a drummer in Count Matthews' House Rockers and other jump blues bands in Oakland between 1940–45. He formed his first band and released the hit record "Harlem Nocturne" in 1946. For the next 15 years, he was a leading figure in the development of West Coast rhythm-and-blues, operating the Barrelhouse nightclub in Los Angeles and discovering Little Esther, the Robins, and Big Mama Thornton. He recorded for Capitol Records throughout the 1950s, including his last hit, "Willie and the Hand Jive," in 1959. Thereafter, he toured occasionally with his blues revue and ran several small record labels, but concentrated on work as a disc jockey and club owner. His autobiography, Listen to the Lambs, was published in 1968.
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Some of the better known names were Ray Otis, Johnny Rabbitt, William A.