Sunday, 22 January 2012

Johnny Otis and Etta James

Johnny Otis
What a sad week for fans of R&B with two of the all time greats gone. There have been plenty of tributes and appreciations elsewhere so Be Bop Wino marks the passing of Johnny Otis and Etta James with a couple of streamed audio playlists.


The Johnny Otis tracks date from his big band days of the mid 1940s (with his first hit "Harlem Nocturne" plus the raunchy "My Baby's Business" with Jimmy Rushing) to the jump and boogie of his smaller groups of the late 1940s and early 1950s (with great contributions from the likes of Big Jay McNeely and Pete "Guitar" Lewis).

My first Etta James record - the Ace 10 inch LP from the early 1980s
The tributes to Etta James have tended to concentrate on her great soul sides for Chess such as "I'd Rather Go Blind" but my little playlist is made up of some of her 1950s sides for the Bihari Brothers' Modern label, starting with her first ever release - "Roll With Me Henry" - an answer record to The Midnighters' "Work With Me Annie." Recorded towards the end of 1954 (and subsequently renamed "The Wallflower") it was a big hit for the young Etta James who had been introduced to the Biharis by Johnny Otis. The list also includes "The Pick-Up" which is one of my all time favourite R&B records.


Thanks to Joan for the two Crown LP covers shown below.




8 comments:

brianbrora said...

A very nice tribute to two great artists.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know Etta had a Twist album on Crown!

Wes Wemyss said...

I'm so pleased to have found your blog again in this sad week.

We should mention Otis' remarkable commitment to racial equality. There are plenty of white men who empathised with black culture and music and exploited it - Leiber & Stoller, the Chess and Mesner brothers, Ahmet Ertegun and many others, but very few who chose to live as part of the black community.

Johnny Otis decided early on that if the world was to dictate whether one had to be white or black, he would be black. His marriage to Phyllis Walker, a mixed race girl (African-Samoan) from his neighbourhood. lasted from 1941 to his death. He played black music with black musicians - and as a bandleader only relatively late into his career. His bandmate and friend Preston Love described him as the first black nationalist he had ever met.

RIP Johnny and Etta.

Anonymous said...

Woody,

I've been down loading the original Joan Selects, using RS links obviously, and No. 3 and No. 11 - Xmas have gone. Any chance of re-posting them please?

Davy

Anonymous said...

Does this site belong to you, too? It has all of your posts on it.

http://boogiewoody.multiply.com/journal

boogiewoody said...

Hi Davy - new link for Joan Selects Volume 3 is now up.

Yeah, that multiply site is mine. I'd forgotten all about it! It acts as a mirror for this site, although not as a backup.

boogiewoody said...

Thanks for the nice and informative comment on Johnny Otis, Wes.

BW

boogiewoody said...

Davy - new link for Joan Selects Christmas special is up.