Johnny “Godfather of Rhythm and Blues” Otis has died at age 90 at his home in Altadena, CA.
It’s unclear of the exact cause of death, but he is believed to have been in poor health for a number of years.
Otis began his musical career in the 30s where he played in a bunch of big bands, but it was in 1945 that he formed his own band and almost instantly had a hit with the instrumental song Harlem Nocturne.
Otis’ success wasn’t just with his own music. He discovered a girl group called the Creolettes which was formed by then 14-year-old Etta James. Otis was responsible for signing the group to Modern Records and suggested that Jamesetta Hawkins, as she was then known, change her name to Etta James.
In 1955 he formed his own record label Dig, although his own music was released by Capitol Records shortly after he found success performing on various TV shows.
In case you worried about Otis lacking a sense of humour, he released an album under the name Snatch and the Poontangs in 1969 filled with material that was filled with not for broadcast language and included songs such as Two Girls In Love (With Each Other) (you can guess what that’s about – despite the lack of actual lyrics) and The Pissed Off Cowboy about a cowboy who smells like horse-shit.
His son Shuggie Otis enjoyed a respectable musical career as well. He released his debut Here Comes Shuggie Otis in 1969.
Otis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer for his work as a songwriter and producer.
Follow the author Tim Cashmere on Twitter.