Remembering Etta James (1938 - 2012)

Posted by Billyjam, January 21, 2012 08:18am | Post a Comment
Wow. What a sad week it has been for blues, R&B, and funk fans with the passing of Jimmy Castor, Johnny Otis, and then yesterday morning (Jan. 20th) more sad news arrived with word that Etta James had died in Riverside, California following complications from leukemia, which she had been undergoing treatment for for some years. She was 73 years of age but was just about to celebrate her 74th birthday next week. 

Born in LA and raised in the Fillmore District of San Francisco, Etta James (who won four Grammys in her lifetime) was loved by music fans worldwide and was inducted into both the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her music could be filed under blues, R&B, rock and roll, and even jazz sometimes (her album Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday won her a jazz Grammy). Even though James is best known for her soothing soulful rendition of "At Last," I personally always thought of the singer, who I saw in concert many times and was always blown away by her performances, as a gritty soulful blues singer since she always brought so much raw emotion and passion to her music. As anyone who has ever seen James in concert will attest, she brought sexy (or "raunchy" as some said) to her stage act in which she always gave it her all.


James was discovered by Johnny Otis, who in a tragic twist of coincidence passed just 3 days earlier this week, back when she was just a teen and recorded her first record when she was only 15. That record was “Roll With Me Henry,” which -- because of its sexual innuendo -- had its title changed to “The Wallflower" and as such became a 1954 hit on Billboard's Rhythm-and-Blues chart. A year later, a more whitewashed, toned-down version of the song retitled "Dance with me Henry" by white singer Georgia Gibbs became a mainstream number one Billboard pop charts hit. Understandably, that bummed out the black singer who had created the song.

Continue reading...

Bay Area Native / Rhythm & Blues Legend Johnny Otis Dead At Age 90

Posted by Billyjam, January 19, 2012 10:27pm | Post a Comment
Johnny Otis aka "The Godfather of Rhythm and Blues" died on Tuesday at his SoCal home in Altadena. Otis, who had been in poor health for the past several years, was 90 years of age and no exact cause of death has been announced so far.

Otis was not just an accomplished musician and bandleader/talent scout with a keen ear for true talent but he was also a talented radio DJ with a distinctive on-air voice. I met him at KPFA years ago when he used to host an entertaining and educational Saturday morning music show on that and other Pacifica stations up until seven years ago.

Otis, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, earned the title of "The Godfather of Rhythm & Blues" due to his band from the late 1940s into the 50's forging a sound that melded jazz of the big band era with the pre-rockNroll spirit of raw church gospel mixed with blues - IE rhythm and blues or early rock'n'roll. As bandleader or A&R talent Otis' taste was impeccable. Artists he discovered and helped launch careers of included Jackie Wilson, Etta James, and Big Mama Thornton.

Otis was a Bay Area cat through and through. He was born in Vallejo to Greek parents (many listeners were shocked to discover he was not Black) and grew up in South Berkeley. He would later move to SoCal. As well as bandleader and sometime singer Otis played drums, piano, and vibraphone. In the early 1950's he scored fifteen hit singles on Billboard's rhythm-and-blues chart including the number one hit single "Double Crossing Blues."

Continue reading...


Posted by Mr. Chadwick, October 17, 2009 07:20pm | Post a Comment
hard beat first cutgap mangione she and Iiron city houserockedrs love's so tough

Album art designers had a serious infatuation with mini-blinds during the 80's and here's a batch of LPs to prove it. These albums feature well placed mini's as well as larger, classic 2" 40's style blinds. Both the Billy Ocean and Patti Austin LPs have been included due to their blindlike imagery.

billy ocean lovezonenancy martinez for tonight
toons looking at youheavy pettin lettin looseo'jays when will i see you again
patti austin every house should have oneburglar in the bedroom skillet & leroybrand x unorthodox behaviour
delegation promise of lovewilfrido
johnny mathis you light up my life
andrew gordon silhouettemanny albam steve's songs