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The Johnny Otis Show

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Johnny Otis (born Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes, December 28, 1921 – January 17, 2012) was an American singer, musician, composer, arranger, bandleader, talent scout, disc jockey, record producer, television show host, artist, author, journalist, minister, and impresario. A seminal influence on American R&B and rock and roll, Otis discovered artists such as Little Esther, Big Mama Thornton, Jackie Wilson, Little Willie John and Hank Ballard. Known as the original “King of Rock & Roll”, he is commonly referred to as the “Godfather of Rhythm and Blues”.

In addition to hosting his own television show titled “The Johnny Otis Show”, he also became an influential disc-jockey in Los Angeles, hosting his own radio show on radio station KFOX in Long Beach, California in 1955.
That same year, Otis started his own label, Ultra Records (which he changed to the name Dig after five single releases). Continuing to perform and appearing on 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. In April 1958, he recorded his best-known recording, “Willie and the Hand Jive”, a clave-based vamp, 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 no. 9 on the U.S. Pop chart, and becoming Otis’ only Top 10 single. The single reached no. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart.

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