Johnny Otis

Johnny Otis

About Johnny Otis

Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes (December 28, 1921 January 17, 2012), better known as Johnny Otis, was an American singer, musician, composer, and record producer. Born in Vallejo, California, he is commonly referred to as the 'Godfather of Rhythm and Blues'. Otis was the child of Greek immigrants Alexander J. Veliotes, a Mare Island longshoreman and grocery store owner, and his wife, the former Irene Kiskakes, a painter. He was the older brother of Nicholas A. Veliotes, former U.S. Ambassador to Jordan (-) and to Egypt (-). Otis grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood in Berkeley, California, where his father owned and operated a neighborhood grocery store. Otis became well known for his choice to live his professional and personal life as a member of the African-American community. He has written, 'As a kid I decided that if our society dictated that one had to be black or white, I would be black.' He was the father of musician Shuggie Otis.

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