Johnny Otis (1921-2012) – "The Godfather of Rhythm and Blues"

Johnny Otis, singer, musician, bandleader, and former pastor, died Tuesday.  He was 90 years old.  Otis, who was the son of Greek immigrants but identified himself as a member of the black community, was the father of singer-songwriter and musician, Shuggie Otis.

According to his bio, the multi-talented artist discovered, among others, Etta James, who was once a featured vocalist in his band.  (James passed today at the age of 73.)

In a career that spanned seven decades, Otis, sometimes referred to as “The Godfather of Rhythm and Blues,” enjoyed one success after another in the music industry.  He was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame, the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. 

In later years, Otis reportedly founded and pastored the now defunct Landmark Community Gospel Church in California.

You can read more about his extensive career in the Chicago-Sun Times and The New York Times.

GMF offers sympathy to the relatives, friends, and fans of Johnny Otis.

Etta James succumbs

Etta James, famed singer whose best known hit is perhaps “At Last,” has died just a few days shy of her 74th birthday.

James, like countless other blues, R&B, and soul singers, got her start in the church. Gospel historian Bob Marovich conducted an interview with her several years ago that he will re-air on his radio program “Gospel Memories” next week. See his piece for more information: Etta James dies at 73.

GMF extends condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Etta James.  Her music will not soon be forgotten.