Sunday, January 22, 2012

Johnny Otis. The Greek who gave rhythm to black music

Απο τα ΝΈΑ
Επιμέλεια Μαρία Μαρκουλη

Πρωτοπόρος του ροκ ένα ρόλ ," νονός του ρυθμ ένα μπλουζ" Έλληνας την καταγωγή. Ο κόσμος της μουσικής αποχαιρέτησε τον Τζονι Οτις η Γιάννη Βελιωτη , όπως ήταν το όνομα του , που έφυγε στις 17 Ιανουαρίου 2012 απο τη ζωη. Στο Λος Αντζελες στα 90 του χρόνια.
Ο Τζονι Οτις , με φαν της μουσικής του σε όλο τον κόσμο ,διέγραψε μια αστρονομικη πορεία με μεγάλες επιτυχίες και καταλυτικές κινήσεις. Έζησε μια ζωη που είναι για ταινία και πέρασε στην ιστορία του ροκ με χαρακτήρα και θρυλικες ηχογραφησεις .
Ένας απο τους πρώτους λευκούς αμερικανούς μουσικούς που αγνόησε στην πράξη κάθε ρατσιστικό διαχωρισμό ,μεγάλωσε σε κοινότητα μαύρων και βούτηξε με πάθος στη μουσική και στη κουλτούρα τους αντλώντας έμπνευση απο τη τζαζ και τα μπλουζ , που πίστευε πως ήταν μια αστείρευτη πηγή για ιδέες και ρυθμούς.
Παίκτης για πολλούς ρόλους άλλωστε : συνθέτης ,τραγουδιστής, ντραμερ, παραγωγός, διευθυντής ορχήστρας, ραδιοφωνικός dj,τηλεοπτικός παρουσιαστής, ζωγράφος, αλλα και πολιτικός ακτιβιστής και παστορας .

Γεννήθηκε στην Καλιφορνια, γιος ελλήνων μεταναστών . Ο πατέρας του Αλέξανδρος Βελιωτης είχε μαναβικο και η μητέρα του Ειρήνη Κισκακη ήταν ζωγράφος. Νεαρός ακόμη είχε δηλώσει ότι, αν ο άνθρωπος μπορούσε να επιλέξει το χρώμα που θα είχε το δέρμα του , εκείνος θα είχε διαλέξει να είναι μαύρος.
Ήταν ο Νατ Κινγκ Κοουλ εκείνος που του είχε προτείνει να παει στο Λος Αντζελες και να παίζει στη τζαζ ορχήστρα του Χαρλαντ Λεοναρντ.
Ο Τζονι ήταν μια τεράστια δύναμη στο ρυθμ έν μπλουζ . Ήταν τόσο σημαντικός όσο ο Σάμ Φιλιπς ( της Sun Records απο όπου επίσημα ξεκίνησε το ροκ έν ρόλ ) ή ο Λεοναρντ Τσες ( της Chess records) στο να ανακαλύπτει νέα ταλέντα. Εκείνος ανακάλυψε τον Τζονι Εις, τον Λιτλ Ριτσαρντ, την Μπινγκ Μαμα Θορτον ,έλεγε χθες στους L.A Times ο κιθαρίστας συνθέτης τραγουδιστής και πρώην μέλος των X Dave Alvin .

Το 1949 ο Οτις υπέγραψε τη 13 χρονη τότε Εσθερ Φιλιπς ως τραγουδίστρια στη μπάντα του και με την Εσθερ στο μικρόφωνο έκανε μεγάλες επιτυχίες .

Στη δεκαετία του 60 όμως η αγγλική εισβολή στην Αμερική με τους Beatles δυσκόλεψαν τα πράγματα. " τα λευκά αγόρια απο την Αγγλία ήρθαν με μια ανακύκλωση έκδοση αυτου που εμείς είχαμε δημιουργήσει. Και εμείς βρεθήκαμε χωρίς δουλεια" έλεγε τότε.

Αν το ραδιόφωνο και η τηλεόραση έπαιξαν καθοριστικό ρόλο στην ποπ κουλτούρα , έτσι όπως διαμορφώνοταν στα 50 ς στην Αμερική , ο Τζονι Οτις ήταν εκει και έμεινε στο μικρόφωνο για πολλα χρόνια αργότερα. Με εκπομπές που παρουσίαζε ουσιαστικά οδηγούσε τους νεαρούς ακροατές και τηλεθεατές στο να ανακαλύψουν μουσικές και καλλιτέχνες που ήταν άγνωστοι στο πλατύ κοινό.
Οι πολλοί θαυμαστές του και κυρίως το δικο του πάθος για τα κοινωνικά θέματα και τη μουσικη τον έφεραν πάλι πίσω στη σκηνη. Η Ace records μάλιστα πρόσφατα κυκλοφόρησε δυο cd "The Johnny Otis story".
Έγραψε βιβλία έγινε παστορας ασχολήθηκε με τα κοινά και με την πολιτικη και μετέδωσε το ταλέντο του στον γιο του Shuggie Otis ο οποίος στη συνέχεια δημιούργησε την δική του καριέρα στη μουσικη.

Σήμ.
( Ο Shuggie Otis σε νεαρή ηλικία συμμετείχε στην ηχογράφηση του ιστορικού δίσκου του Mike Bloofield " Super Session" )


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Johnny Otis

Background information
Birth name Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes
Born December 28, 1921
Vallejo, California, U.S.
Died January 17, 2012 (aged 90)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres Blues, rhythm and blues, jazz, gospel, rock & roll, doo-wop, soul, funk
Instruments Piano, vibraphone, drums, percussion, vocals
Years active 1930s-2000s
Labels Various
Website johnnyotisworld.com
Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes[1] (December 28, 1921 – January 17, 2012), better known as Johnny Otis, was an American singer, musician, talent scout, disc jockey, composer, arranger, recording artist, record producer, vibraphonist, drummer, percussionist, bandleader, impresario and pastor[2]. Born in Vallejo, California,[1] he is commonly referred to as the "Godfather of Rhythm and Blues".[3]



Personal life

Otis was the child of Greek immigrants Alexander J. Veliotes, a Mare Island longshoreman and grocery store owner, and his wife, the former Irene Kiskakes, a painter.[1][4]
He was the older brother of Nicholas A. Veliotes, former U.S. Ambassador to Jordan (1978–1981) and to Egypt (1984–1986).
Otis was well-known for his choice to live his professional and personal life as a member of the African-American community.[5][6][7] He has written, "As a kid I decided that if our society dictated that one had to be black or white, I would be black."[8]
He was the father of musician Shuggie Otis.

]Music career

After playing drums in a variety of swing orchestras, including Lloyd Hunter's Serenaders,[9] and Harlan Leonard's Rockets,[10] he founded his own band in 1945 and had one of the most enduring hits of the big band era, "Harlem Nocturne". This band played with Wynonie Harris and Charles Brown. In 1947, he and Bardu Ali opened the Barrelhouse Club in the Watts district of Los Angeles, California. He reduced the size of his band and hired singers Mel Walker, Little Esther Phillips and the Robins (who later became the Coasters). He discovered the teenaged Phillips when she won one of the Barrelhouse Club's talent shows. With this band, which toured extensively throughout the United States as the California Rhythm and Blues Caravan, he had a long string of rhythm and blues hits through 1950.
In the late 1940s, he discovered Big Jay McNeely, who then performed on his "Barrelhouse Stomp". He began recording for the Newark, New Jersey-based Savoy label in 1949,[10] and began releasing a stream of records that made the R&B chart, including "Double Crossing Blues", "Mistrustin' Blues" and "Cupid Boogie", which all featured either Little Esther or Mel Walker, or both, and all reached no. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart.[11] He also began featuring himself on vibraphone on many of his recordings.[10]
He moved to the Mercury label in 1951, but his chart success began to diminish. However, he discovered Etta James, for whom he produced her first hit, "Roll With Me, Henry" (also known as "The Wallflower"). Otis produced the original recording of "Hound Dog" written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller with vocal by Big Mama Thornton, and was given a writing credit on all six of the 1953 releases of the song. He was a successful songwriter; one of his most famous compositions is "Every Beat of My Heart", first recorded by The Royals in the 1952[12][13] but which became a hit for Gladys Knight and the Pips in 1961. As an artist and repertory man for King Records he also discovered Jackie Wilson, Hank Ballard, and Little Willie John, among others.[10] He also became an influential disc-jockey in Los Angeles.[14]
After starting his own label, Dig, in 1955, he continued to perform and appeared on regular TV shows in Los Angeles from 1957. On the strength of their success, he signed to Capitol Records. Featuring singer Marie Adams, and with his band now being credited as the Johnny Otis Show, he made a comeback, at first in the British charts with "Ma He's Making Eyes At Me" in 1957.[15] In April 1958, he recorded his best-known recording, "Willie and the Hand Jive", which relates to hand and arm motions in time with the music, called the hand jive. This went on to be a hit in the summer of 1958, peaking at #9 on the U.S. Pop chart, and becoming Otis' only Top 10 single. The song was covered by Eric Clapton in 1974, and became a staple of his live repertoire. Otis' success with the song was short-lived, and he briefly moved to King Records in 1961, where he backed Johnny "Guitar" Watson on some recordings.[10]
In 1969 he recorded an album of sexually explicit material under the name Snatch and the Poontangs.[16] In 1970 he played at the legendary Monterey Jazz Festival with Little Esther Phillips and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson. In the 1980s he had a weekly radio show in Los Angeles, playing R&B music,[17] and also recorded with his son Shuggie Otis, releasing the 1982 album The New Johnny Otis Show.[10]
Otis continued performing through the 1990s and headlined the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1990 and 2000, although because of his many other interests he went through long periods where he did not perform. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 as a nonperformer for his work as a songwriter and producer.[18]

Other work

In the 1960s, he entered journalism and politics, losing a campaign for a seat in the California State Assembly (one reason for the loss may be that he ran under his much less well known real name). He then became chief of staff for Democratic Congressman Mervyn M. Dymally.[19] He was also was the pastor of Landmark Community Church.
In the 1990s, Otis bought a farm near Sebastopol, California, north of San Francisco. For a time he ran a coffee shop/grocery store/blues club, where one of the featured singers was the Georgia-born singer Jackie Payne. Around this time Otis also founded and pastored a new church, Landmark Community Gospel Church, which held weekly rehearsals in the tiny town of Forestville, California, and Sunday services in Santa Rosa, California. Landmark's worship services centered on Otis' preaching and the traditional-style performances of a gospel choir and a male gospel quartet, backed by a rocking band that featured Otis' son Nicky Otis and Shuggie's son, Lucky Otis. The church closed its doors in the mid-1990s.[citation needed]
Otis hosted a radio show on KPFA, The Johnny Otis Show. This show was aired every Saturday morning, live from the Powerhouse Brewery in Sebastopol. Listeners were invited to stop in for breakfast and enjoy the show live. Due to declining health, as well as his relocation to Los Angeles, his participation in the show decreased. The show last aired on August 19, 2006.[citation needed]
He died on January 17, 2012.[2]

Discography

]Chart singles
Year Single Artists Chart Positions
US Pop[20] US
R&B[11] UK[21]
1948 "That's Your Last Boogie" Joe Swift with Johnny Otis & His Orchestra - 10 -
1950 "Double Crossing Blues" Johnny Otis Quintette, The Robins and Little Esther - 1 -
"Mistrustin' Blues" /
"Misery" Little Esther with Mel Walker and the Johnny Otis Orchestra
Little Esther with the Johnny Otis Orchestra -
- 1
9 -
-
"Cry Baby" The Johnny Otis Orchesta, Mel Walker and the Bluenotes - 6 -
"Cupid Boogie" The Johnny Otis Orchesta, Little Esther and Mel Walker - 1 -
"Deceivin' Blues" Little Esther and Mel Walker with the Johnny Otis Orchestra - 4 -
"Dreamin' Blues" Mel Walker with the Johnny Otis Orchestra - 8 -
"Wedding Boogie" /
"Far Away Blues (Xmas Blues)" Johnny Otis' Congregation: Little Esther, Mel Walker, Lee Graves
The Johnnie Otis Orchestra with Little Esther and Mel Walker -
- 6
6 -
-
"Rockin' Blues" The Johnny Otis Orchestra with Mel Walker - 2 -
1951 "Gee Baby" /
"Mambo Boogie" The Johnny Otis Orchestra -
- 2
4 -
-
"All Nite Long" The Johnny Otis Orchestra - 6 -
1952 "Sunset To Dawn" Mel Walker with the Johnny Otis Orchestra - 10 -
"Call Operator 210" Johnny Otis and His Orchestra featuring Mel Walker - 4 -
1957 "Ma He's Making Eyes At Me" Johnny Otis and His Orchestra with Marie Adams and The Three Tons of Joy - - 2
1958 "Bye Bye Baby" The Johnny Otis Show, vocals by Marie Adams and Johnny Otis - - 20
"Willie and the Hand Jive" The Johnny Otis Show 9 1 -
"Crazy Country Hop" The Johnny Otis Show 87 - -
1959 "Castin' My Spell"
The Johnny Otis Show 52 - -
1960 "Mumblin' Mosie"
The Johnny Otis Show 80 - -
1969 "Country Girl" The Johnny Otis Show - 29 -
]References

^ a b c "California Birth Index, 1905-1995 - online database on-line". United States: The Generations Network. 2005. Retrieved 2009-11-23.
^ a b Lewis, Randy. "Johnny Otis obituary: R&B singer, drummer, bandleader dies at 90". latimes.com. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
^ "Johnny Otis". www.history-of-rock.com. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
^ "Fifteenth Census of the United States (1930) [database on-line, Berkeley (Health District 2), Alameda County, California, Enumeration District: 1-280, Page: 16A, Lines: 1-6, household of Alex J. Veliotes"]. United States: The Generations Network. 1930-04-10. Retrieved 2009-11-23.
^ Dahl, Bill. "Johnny Otis". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation.
^ "Johnny Otis" entry at Soulbot.com"
^ Powers, Ann (2007-03-27). "Will the real Stone rise up?". Los Angeles Times.
^ Johnny Otis, with preface by George Lipsitz (1968). Listen to the Lambs, p. xiii. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-6531-0.
^ Perry, J.J. (1998) "Johnny Otis: Pioneering Rhythm and Blues Legend", Bloomington, Indiana Herald-Times (10/23/1998). Retrieved 7/4/2007.
^ a b c d e f Bill Dahl, Biography of Johnny Otis at Allmusic.com. Accessed 19 January 2012
^ a b Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 336.
^ "Ask 'Mr. Music' Jerry Osborne: For the week of March 26, 2007". Mr. Music. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
^ "Hank Ballard". Soulful Kinda Music. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
^ Honkers And Shouters. The Golden Years Of Rhythm And Blues. Crowell-Collier Press, New York, 1978, p. 160
^ J. C. Marion, My Search Is Over - Marie Adams, 2002. Accessed 19 January 2012
^ Richie Unterberger, Snatch and the Poontangs, Allmusic.com
^ Kiersh, Ed (August 1985). "Ike's Story". Spin 1 (4): 36–43. doi:August 2005. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
^ "Johnny Otis: inducted in 1994". The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
^ Otis, Johnny (1993). Upside Your Head!. Wesleyan University Press. p. xxviii. ISBN 0819562874.
^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc.. p. 529. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 577. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
[edit]External links

Official website
Johnny Otis at Allmusic
JohnnyOtis.com

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