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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Posted in Arranger, Blues, Club Owner, Early Rock, Musician, Producer, R&B, Rock, Singer, Songwriter | Tagged: Big Jay McNeely, Big Mama Thornton, Cliff Richard, Eric Clapton, Etta James, George Thorogood, Hank Ballard, Jackie Wilson, Johnny Otis, Levon Helm, Little Esther Phillips, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Shuggie Otis | Leave a Comment »
Posted by themusicsover on December 28, 2011
DOB Unknown – December 28, 2011
Photo by William Johnson
Danny DeGennaro, who also performed as Dan Rio, was Philadelphia-area singer, songwriter, and guitarist who is perhaps best remembered as a former member of Kingfish, a band which also counted Bob Weir and New Riders of the Purple Sage bassist, Dave Torbert, as members. Joining the outfit post-Weir in 1979, Rio played guitar and shared vocals until they disbanded following the death of Torbert in 1982. Rio also performed or recorded with Billy Squier, Bo Diddley and Jorma Kaukonen, Clarence Clemons throughout his career. In recent years, DeGennaro fronted his own 5-piece blues band, the Danny DeGennaro Band. On December 28, 2011, Danny DeGennaro, age 56, was shot and killed in his yard in what appeared to have been a robbery. Police had no suspects in the early weeks following the murder but indicated it likely was not a random attack.
Posted in Blues, Musician, Rock, Singer, Songwriter | Tagged: Billy Squier, Bo Diddley, Bob Weir, Clarence Clemons, Dan Rio, Danny DeGennaro, Dave Torbert, Jorma Kaukonen, Kingfish, New Riders of the Purple Sage | Leave a Comment »
Posted by themusicsover on December 7, 2010
June 7, 1948 – December 7, 1982
Dave Torbert was a bassist who is perhaps best remembered for his time playing in the New Riders of the Purple Sage. He was also a founding member of Kingfish who, at one point or another also employed Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, and Danny DeGennaro. Grateful Dead fans may be familiar with Torbert’s talent since he played on American Beauty’s “Box Of Rain.” Dave Torbert was 34 when he died of a heart attack on December 7, 1982.
Posted in Musician, Rock | Tagged: Bill Kreutzmann, Bob Weir, Danny DeGennaro, Dave Torbert, Kingfish, New Riders of the Purple Sage, The Grateful Dead | Leave a Comment »
Posted by themusicsover on August 9, 2010
August 1, 1942 – August 9, 1995
Jerry Garcia is best remembered as a co-founder of influential jam band, the Grateful Dead who will forever be linked to the San Francisco rock and hippie scenes of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Although a democratic band with multiple “lead” singers, Garcia was considered the leader of the group by most outside the band. Garcia was extremely busy outside the Dead as well, recording and playing with New Riders Of The Purple Sage (with John Dawson), Old and in the Way, Legion Of Mary, as well as his own Jerry Garcia Band. He also had numerous collaborations with David Grisman. His unique guitar playing found its way on to numerous albums as a guest artist also, likely leading to Rolling Stone magazine placing him at #13 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Players Of All Time. During the summer of 1995, Garcia checked into a rehabilitation center; he had struggled with drug addiction. On August 9, his lifeless body was discovered at the facility, dead of a heart attack. It was likely the result of his addictions as well as his heavy weight sleep apnea. Four days later, a public memorial was held in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Over 25,000 people attended.
Other members of the Grateful Dead who died too soon were Brent Mydland, Keith Godchaux, Vince Welnick, and Ron “Pigpen” McKernan.
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Posted in Bluegrass, Folk, Musician, Rock, Singer, Songwriter | Tagged: Brent Mydland, David Grisman, Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, John Dawson, Keith Godchaux, Legion of Mary, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Old And In The Way, Ron McKernan, Vince Welnick | Leave a Comment »
Posted by themusicsover on January 11, 2010
April 7, 1938 – January 11, 2005
Spencer Dryden is best remembered as a drummer for ’60s rock bands, Jefferson Airplane and New Riders of the Purple Sage. Born to a half-brother of Charlie Chaplin, Dryden grew up in Los Angeles where his father worked for the actor. Much of Dryden’s childhood was spent on movie sets and later, jazz clubs that his father frequented. In 1966, Dryden was hired by the Jefferson Airplane to replace Skip Spence who had left to form Moby Grape. Because of his background, Dryden brought some jazz improv into the band’s live sets. After Jefferson Airplane’s infamous altercation with the Hell’s Angels at the Altamont concert, Dryden decided to leave the group. From 1970 to 1977, Dryden played in New Riders of the Purple Sage, and soon thereafter, for psychedelic supergroup, the Dinosaurs. He retired in 1995. Spencer Dryden was reportedly living in poverty during the final years of his life and died of colon cancer on January 11, 2005.
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Posted in Musician, Rock | Tagged: Charlie Chaplin, Jefferson Airplane, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Spencer Dryden, The Dinosaurs | Leave a Comment »