The New Johnny Otis Show with Shuggie Otis
The New Johnny Otis Show With Shuggie Otis marked the return of one of the true Renaissance men of rhythm and blues. In 1981, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Johnny Otis teamed up with Alligator Records to record a rollicking R&B blowout. The album brought Johnny back into the studio as a producer, drawing together a host of all-star musicians, including his brilliant guitarist son, Shuggie Otis. Johnny arranged the album like an old-time R&B review, putting the spotlight on half a dozen singers and players. The New Johnny Otis Show With Shuggie Otis garnered rave reviews and was nominated for a Grammy. Click here for more information.
Delmar "Mighty Mouth" Evans
Wendell D. Perry
JOHNNY OTIS, Piano, Vibes and Vocals
SHUGGIE OTIS, Guitar
DAVID PRIDGEN, Piano
PLAS JOHNSON, Tenor Sax
ZAVEN JAMBAZIAN, Harmonica
EDGAR L. WILLIS, Bass
EARL PALMER, Drums
NICKY OTIS and TALMADGE BAKER, Percussion
Produced by Johnny Otis
Bruce Iglauer, Executive Producer
Engineered and mixed by Fred Breitberg, assisted by Eddie B. Flick
Recorded at Sage & Sound Studios, Los Angeles
Mixed at Streeterville Studios, Chicago
Cover design by Ross & Harvey/Chicago
Cover drawing by Don Vanderbeek
Mastered by Tom Coyne
Special thanks to Phyllis Otis, Donna Cline and Bruce Bromberg
This album marks the return of Johnny Otis to recording after almost a decade. During three all-night sessions at Los Angeles' Sage & Sound Studios in April of 1981, Johnny did what he does best--made rock and roll magic. He coached, coaxed and cajoled great performances from a crop of new stars-to-be and musical veterans alike, keeping spirits high and never letting anyone settle for less than their best. It was like a big family party, with Johnny as the stern, loving, hardass father demanding perfection from his children, and getting it.
In one sense, this album is a real family reunion, because it also marks the return of the immensely talented Johnny Otis, Jr., aka Shuggie Otis. Shuggie was hailed as a phenomenal guitarist while still a young teenager, and, after almost ten years of immersing himself in his music, he's playing today better than ever.
Johnny Otis may have been off the music scene for a few years, but he's been anything but inactive. He's been using the same skills that he brought to organizing and managing the first cross-country rock 'n' roll revues of the early 1950's, except now he's a community organizer in Los Angeles, as Chief of Staff for a progressive U.S. congressman. And, he's pastor of the Landmark Community Church, a church that opens its doors to everyone, from politicians to hookers to musicians, and where the choir is just as likely to be rehearsing R&B as gospel tunes.
Johnny's been using his church choir to nurture new talent in the same way he used the house band at his famed Barrelhouse Club in Watts during the 1950's. In those days, he discovered Etta James, Hank Ballard, Jackie Wilson, Esther Phillips, Big Mama Thornton and Linda Hopkins. Now he's earmarked Charles Williams and Linda Dorsey as future stars, and found a great new composer/arranger in David Pridgen (who doubles as choir director!).
To showcase his new singers and new songs, Johnny invited some old friends to the recording studio: Earl Palmer, who began playing drums as a teenager with Professor Longhair in New Orleans and now is the most in-demand studio drummer in L.A.; Edgar "The Peeper" Willis, former bassman with Ray Charles; Plas Johnson, whose tenor sax has sparked everything from rock 'n' roll oldies to jazz big bands to movie soundtrack orchestras; Wendell Perry, the bass voice of The Coasters; Vera Hamilton, a former Otisette; Zaven Jambazian, longtime L.A. harp player and restauranteur; and Delmar "Mighty Mouth" Evans, who contributed his booming '60s, Cold Shot, Cuttin' Up, and Snatch and The Poontangs.
Back in the early 1950's, there were a handful of musicians, singers, writers and arrangers who mixed swing jazz riffs, blues shouting, gospel harmonies and R&B drumming and came up with a new sound called "rock and roll." In Los Angeles, Johnny Otis was the man. His unfailing ear for great songs and new talent, his ability to organize recording sessions and tours, his eagerness to explore new sounds, his rocking piano and gravelly voice, and his never-ending, all-night-long enthusiasm made him a prime mover on the national music scene. From those early recordings right up through this album, "The Johnny Otis Show," whether live on stage, on records, on the radio or on television, has meant good-time rockin' R&B music, great musicians, new songs and a beat that just will not quit.