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Johnny Otis

Biography

Otis is a seminal figure in the development of West Coast R&B, 1950s rock 'n' roll, and Blues Rock. He discovered, produced and wrote songs for numerous artists, led his own very successful bands, recorded hit records, and fathered Bay Area Blues Rock guitar hero Shuggie Otis, whose song "Strawberry Letter 23" was a massive hit for the Brothers Johnson in 1975. Otis started out as a drummer, playing in big bands in the '40s and eventually began producing R&B records. Along the way he discovered Big Mama Thornton, Little Esther, Etta James and others, producing their records and backing them up with his band. He scored a major rock 'n' roll hit in 1957 with the often covered "Willie and the Hand Jive." Throughout the '60s and the '70s his band -- billed as the Johnny Otis Show -- was a major attraction in clubs and on the festival circuit. He continues to perform and is a disc jockey with a blues and R&B radio show in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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