Johnny Otis

  • Year:
  • Inducted by:
    Etta James
  • Category:
    Ahmet Ertegun Award
Johnny Otis


There was nothing Johnny Otis couldn’t do.

He was a bandleader, a producer, a promoter, a musician, a talent scout and a label owner, accomplishments eclipsed only by the role that was his crowning glory: Godfather of R&B.

Hall of Fame Essay


Nick Tosches

When I wrote Unsung Heroes of Rock ‘n’ Roll, one of the figures that wove through several of the book’s chap­ters was that of Johnny Otis. In the fall of 1945, when Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers recorded their legendary R&B hit “Drifting Blues,” Otis was the drummer who laid down the grave­yard shuffle beneath Charles Brown’s astounding vocal. 

Six years later, as a talent scout for King Records, Otis dis­covered the group  —  they were the Royals then, later the Midnighters  —  whose “Work With Me Annie” would be one of the enduring birth cries of classic rock & roll.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Program 1994
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when it comes to R&B and jazz, he’s a sure enough a guru
Etta James



Photography: Kevin Mazur, WireImage