Born on December 28, 1921, in Vallejo, California, Johnny Otis dropped out of school to play with bands throughout the Midwest, and settled in Los Angeles in 1943. He performed with Charlie Parker and Count Basie, but his main impact was on rhythm and blues music. Having an ear for talent, Otis is credited with discovering artists like Etta James, Jackie Wilson and Big Mama Thornton. As the leader of his own band, Otis had 15 Top 40 rhythm-and-blues hits from 1950 to '52. He was often called the "Godfather of Rhythm and Blues," and was a popular disc jockey for decades. Johnny Otis died in California on January 17, 2012, at age 90.
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