[JPL] About Johhny otis

Arturo Gomez arturo at kuvo.org
Thu Jan 19 18:46:43 EST 2012

The Godfather of RnB-Johnny Otis was one of my all time favorite musical heroes,
he did it all, Jazz and swing band drummer/vibraphonist, composer, singer,
discoverer of talent(Etta James, Esther Phillips, Hank Ballard and others). he
hosted an RnB TV show in L A in the 1950s. he was a long time radio host for
Pacifica's KPFA and KPFK. he was an author of 2 books, a successful visual
artist-sculptures and portraits, club owner, he was married for 60 years to his
only wife. he recorded a V-Disc in the mid 40's titled Volcano that featured
percussionists from the Miguelito Valdes band. Johnny was also a activist in the
Civil Rights movement.

After WW2 Johnny settled in Los Angeles and spearheaded the movement that
created RnB, he worked with Louis Jordan, T-Bone Walker, Roy Brown, Joe Turner,
the brothers Liggins, Amos Milburn and all of the pioneers of RnB which became
rock n roll. For many years Johnny's bass player was a Puerto Rican, Mario
Galardo, I can't recall Mario's last name, however as a proud socialist, he
moved to Cuba after 1960 and was never heard from again

As a drummer in the late 1930s for a territorial swing band, Johnny knew of the
"shave and a haircut beat" aka the "Bo Diddley Beat "which served as the basis for
Willie & The Hand Jive, a an Afro-Cuban clave pattern  Ray Barreto dislked his Top 40 hit,  Watusi,  Johnny felt the
same way about his Hand Jive smash.

Living in Pasadena, I would run into Johnny and his family who lived down the
block from my good friend's home in Altadena in the 1970s. Johnny is one of the
20th century most important music figures, yet he is drastically under

Arturo Gómez
Music Director
The Oasis In The City, The Front Range and the High Country!

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