Johnny Otis, ‘Godfather of Rhythm and Blues,’ Dies at 90


Otis died Jan. 17th, 2012, at his home in Altadena, California.

Press Release Date: 2012-01-17T00:00:00

Lipsitz_midnight coverOtis_listen coverElected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, Johnny Otis is a celebrated American blues and R & B musician. He was a painter, sculptor, author, and, until recently, the host of the Johnny Otis Show. He is author of Listen to the Lambs and his biography, Midnight at the Barrelhouse: The Johnny Otis Story, was written by George Lipsitz and published in 2010.

“Society wants to categorize everything, but to me it’s all African-American music,” he told The San Francisco Chronicle in 1993. “The music isn’t just the notes, it’s the culture — the way Grandma cooked, the way Grandpa told stories, the way the kids walked and talked.”

Read his obituary in the New York Times; a very nice article about his life and legacy in The Atlantic; and a lovely tribute by his biographer, George Lipsitz, on the U of MN Press blog.

NPR also has a few nice segments here and here.