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Archive for the ‘Club Owner’ Category

Died On This Date (January 17, 2012) Johnny Otis / R&B Great; Had Hit With “Willie and the Hand Jive”

Posted by themusicsover on January 17, 2012

Johnny Otis (Born Ioannis Veliotis)
December 28, 1921 – January 17, 2012

Referred to as the “Godfather Of Rhythm and Blues,” Johnny Otis was a man of many aspirations and musical talents.  Born and raised in the San Francisco area, Otis went on to become a successful bandleader, producer, songwriter, journalist, talent scout, arranger, disc jockey, vibraphonist, drummer, club owner, merchant, and even politician.  His most popular contribution to popular music came by way of “Willie and the Hand Jive,” which sold over 1.5 million copies, rose to #9 on the pop charts, and has since been recorded by the likes of George Thorogood, Levon Helm, Eric Clapton, Cliff Richard, and New Riders of the Purple Sage, to name just a few.  A child of Greek immigrants, Otis actually lived and worked as part of the African-American community while employing mostly black musicians for his bands.  He began making an impact on music during the late ’40s when he opened a nightclub in the Watts section of Los Angeles.  It was there that he made his first discovery, Little Esther Phillips, who went on to have several pop and R&B hits of her own. Other future greats he is credited for discovering and working with during their early years include Big Jay McNeely, Jackie Wilson, Hank Ballard, Etta James and  Big Mama Thornton, whose signature song, “Hound Dog,” was produced by Otis.  In 1958,  Otis recorded the self-penned “Willie and the Hand Jive” which quickly became a smash with both black and white audiences and went on to become one of the most iconic songs of the era.  A tireless performer, Otis and his band toured the world well into the 2000s.  During the ’60s, he made an unsuccessful run for the California State Assembly.  Many blamed the loss on the fact that he ran under his virtually unknown birth name.  In 1994, Otis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in later years, he hosted “The Johnny Otis Show” on San Francisco radio station, KPFA.  Due to declining health, he did his last show in August of 2006.   His son, Shuggie Otis, had hits of his own during the ’70s. Johnny Otis was 90 when he passed away in his home on January 17, 2012

Thanks to Paul Bearer for the assist.

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Johnny Otis

Posted in Arranger, Blues, Club Owner, Early Rock, Musician, Producer, R&B, Rock, Singer, Songwriter | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Died On This Date (January 17, 2012) Johnny Otis / R&B Great; Had Hit With “Willie and the Hand Jive”

Died On This Date (November 13, 2011) Yvonne “Miss Dixie” Fasnacht / Iconic New Orleans Gay Club Owner

Posted by themusicsover on November 13, 2011

Yvonne Fasnacht
DOB Unknown – November 13, 2011

Yvonne Fasnacht was an accomplished New Orleans clarinet and saxophone player, as well as the proprietor of Dixie’s Bar Of Music, one of the city’s most revered jazz clubs.  Fasnacht first learned to play her instruments while attending trade school, and before she knew it, she was playing in such all girl outfits as Southland Rhythm Girls and the Smart Set.  These gigs afforded her the opportunity to tour the US and even appear in a Hollywood short film.  In 1949, Fasnacht opened Dixie’s Bar of Music which quickly became one of New Orleans’ hottest clubs where rich and poor; gay and straight; and celebrity and common folk could all co-mingle and have a good time.  The club has been cited as one of the country’s first openly gay bars, and it was Fasnacht who created a safe and accepting environment, even in the face of local authorities who raided the joint fairly regularly.  The club, which operated until 1964, became a magnet for Hollywood elite as well. It was not uncommon to find the likes of Truman Capote, Rock Hudson, Gore Vidal, or Danny Kaye sitting at a table.  The club’s place in New Orleans history is so well-regarded, that the 35-foot mural of jazz greats that hung on one of its walls is now on display at the New Orleans US Mint as part of the Louisiana State Museum.  As reported by WWLTV, Yvonne Fasnacht passed away on November 13, 2011.  She was 101.

Thanks to Henk de Bruin at 2+ Printing for the assist.



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Died On This Date (October 21, 2011) Edmundo Ros / Famous Trinidadian Bandleader

Posted by themusicsover on October 21, 2011

Edmundo Ros
December 7, 1910 – October 21, 2011

Edmundo Ros was a Trinidad born but England based Latin jazz singer, musician and bandleader who came to prominence during the 1940s.  Ros’ first instrument of choice was the euphonium, a wind brass instrument, which he played in the Venezuelan Military Band from the late ’20s to late ’30s.  Soon after, he received a proper music education from London’s Royal Academy of Music.  It was during that time that he played a handful of recordings by Fats Waller.    In 1940, Ros formed a rumba band which eventually swelled to 16 musicians and was renamed Edmundo Ros and his Orchestra.  The band became very popular throughout Europe, playing for royalty and celebrities alike.  His 1949 78 record, “The Wedding Samba,” sold over 3 million copies, while his Rhythms Of The South LP of 1958 sold well over a million.  In all, Ros made more than 800 recordings throughout his career.  He also ran his own record label and one of London’s most popular nightclubs of its era.  Edmund Ross made his farewell performance in 1994, and passed away at 100 years old on October 21, 2011.

Thanks to Dan Del Fiorentino at NAMM for the assist.

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Edmundo Ros

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Died On This Date (August 22, 2011) Tony Ruffino / Concert Industry Legend

Posted by themusicsover on August 22, 2011

Tony Ruffino
DOB Unknown – August 22, 2011

Tony Ruffino was a respected Birmingham, Alabama concert promoter who in 1969, began bringing such acts as Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, and the Allman Brothers to the city.  Originally from New York, Ruffino settled in Birmingham in 1977, after running Ruffino-Vaughn Productions, the business he shared with Larry Vaughn, from its New York office.  During the early ’80s, he and Vaughn parted ways, with Ruffino going on to form New Era Productions where he promoted local shows by the Police, Warren Zevon, and Elvis Costello, to name a few.  It was a matter of time before Ruffino opened the popular local venues, Oak Mountain Amphitheatre and Five Points South Music Hall. He also became part owner of Brothers Music Hall before retiring from the business in 2004.  On August 22, 2011, Tony Ruffino suffered a fatal stroke.  He was 74.



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Died On This Date (March 31, 2011) Don Hill / Iconic New York Nightclub Owner

Posted by themusicsover on March 31, 2011

Don Hill
DOB Unknown – March 31, 2011

Photo by Patrick McMullan

Don Hill was a popular New York City club manager and owner who helped make the Cat Club, and later his own Don Hill’s nightclub THE places to be seen for rock stars and celebrities of every stripe.  Born and raised in New Jersey, Hill was just 18 when landed his first Manhattan job at Kenny’s Castaways.   In 1985, he took over management of the Cat Club and began booking talent like G.G. Allin, Poison, Soundgarden and L.A. Guns – it was the first place most New Yorkers caught a glimpse of these acts.  The Cat Club stage also played host to David Bowie and Peter Frampton during the ’80s.  In 1993, he opened Don Hill’s which again, became and still is, the hangout of choice for many of rock’s elite.  Don Hill was 66 when he passed away on March 31, 2011.  Cause of death was not immediately released.

Thanks to Craig Rosen at Number1Albums for the assist.



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