He was a huge force in R&B on the West Coast and in the Southwest, from Central Avenue in L.A. to Houston and Memphis. In his way, Johnny was as important as [Sun Records founder] Sam Phillips or [Chess Records co-founder] Leonard Chess in discovering new talent, both as a bandleader but also as a record producer — everyone from Little Esther to Johnny Ace to Little Richard to Big Mama Thornton and so many more.
Not only was his music a gigantic influence on me, his political and sociological views always forced me to think outside the box. While I didn’t agree with everything he said, I agreed with a lot of it.
Johnny Otis made me think while I was rocking. Not many artists can do that.
Damn. This is really sad.
[Incredible career. I believe he played drums on the original recording of Big Mama Thornton’s Hound Dog. If you want to learn how to absolutely send it, check her out with Buddy Guy.]