Johnny Otis: 1921-2012

Man, what a way to end Chitlin’ Circuit week.  Things kicked off happily on Monday with some jabber about Prince, who is sort of the international superstar embodiment of all that Chitlin’ Circuit goodness — big show, sexy songs, Little Richard hair.

From there we moved to a great interview with author Preston Lauterbach about his outstanding book on the Chitlin’ Circuit.  Accompanying that piece was a “Deep Cuts” primer of Chitlin’ Circuit music over the last sixty years.   

All in all a great week, and then the sad news that “Willie and the Hand Jive” man Johnny Otis passed away.

Sure, he was born Greek, white, and named Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes, but in my opinion Johnny Otis fits into the Chitlin’ Circuit sphere.  He certainly crossed paths with the likes of Wynonie Harris and Big Mama Thornton.   In fact, he produced Big Mama’s recording of “Hound Dog” and even has a writing credit on that cut.

But the two things Johnny Otis is best remembered for are probably “Willie and the Hand Jive” and fathering the great Shuggie Otis.

There are lots of obituaries floating around the intergooglewebtubes for the great Johnny Otis.  I recommend that you take a little time and read a couple of them, but for now I’ll leave you with a few of his greatest contributions:

I’m speaking as a father here, but legacy is the greatest contribution of all:

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