Saturday, September 12, 2009

five knuckle shuffle


F3966: johnny the greek.

Credited by Frank Zappa as being the inspiration for cultivating his own Viva Zapata! crop of facial hair, Californian bluesman, Johnny Otis was born Ionnis Veliotes four days before Christmas in 1921.

From Wiki:

"In the 1960s he entered journalism and politics, losing a campaign for a seat in the California Assembly (one reason for the loss may be that he ran under his much less well known real name). He then became chief of staff for Democratic Congressman Mervin Dymally."


Peaking at # 9 on the US Billboard Chart in 1958, this ungarnished side-order of authentic Bo Diddley was Otis' only Top Ten hit. A capable politician and tireless advocate for civil rights - addressing the 1965 race riots in his 1968 publication, "Listen to the lambs" - he later founded and pastored a new
church, Landmark Community Gospel Church, which held Sunday services in Santa Rosa, California.

I knew an Otis on the outskirts of Glasgow who was one of the shyest young men I have ever met, and tortured by his name. He used to alleviate - or deflect - unwanted attention deficit disorder by burning his initials into the upholstery on the back seat of our shared expressway bus. I once, to be fair, smashed an elbow into the teeth of a youth on the same when he insisted on getting in on my own face. The driver might have made an unscheduled stop had a thirteen year old threatened to cap him directly on the spot, but I very much doubt it.

'See no; hear no; speak no' is a thoroughly Glaswegian mantra. We are all Neutral Born Buddhists, Kill Bills and Tarantinos be damned.

"sunflower girl"
johnny otis, 1988.

THE JOHNNY OTIS SHOW: WILLIE AND THE HAND JIVE from "Willie And The Hand Jive" 45 (Capitol) 1957 (US)

8 comments:

Löst Jimmy said...

Hope your week is going well bro'


I have read all that hand jive malarky will give you hairy hands or worse, blindness!

ib said...

I was slipping headlong into some kind of horrendous stasis there for a day or so, Löst Jimmy. Thanks for the wake-up call...

If I was marginally more hypochondriac I might swear I was coming down with Swine Flu. Last night's BBC reportage on its anticipated resurgence as we stand on the cusp of winter did little to quell such anxieties.

Jon said...

Johnny Otis retired up here. He did his radio show live from a local bookstore for a while. Then he opened a coffee house. His band did a Sunday morning show there every week. I met him briefly a couple of times. He seemed like a genuinely good guy. Sorry I haven't been posting many comments. They've installed wi fi in the break room at work. I skim through the blogs during the day on my iPod. I'm trying to cut back, slightly, on my online life. I've finally gotten part of your wedding gift, but I am notoriously slow about mailing things off. I mention this only to explain that there is a package on the kitchen table that reminds me of you daily.

ib said...

When I read he founded a church in Santa Rosa, I confess I wondered if you might not have have run in to him.

I have been on a semi sabbatical from online duties myself. Good news on the wi fi at work, although the thought of bus drivers fiddling with the buttons on their iPods does make me wince a little... There must be a screenplay in there somewhere.

Actually. I am even more notoriously slow when it comes to mailing things conventionally these days. A situation compounded by the fact we have had a good part of our benefits temporarily suspended until the creaking wheels of bureaucracy process our "change in circumstances". I suspect I have laboured similar issues enough, but I am more than slightly embarrassed at my own inability to deliver as intended. Right now, there are packages still sitting here which ought to have been US bound weeks ago. Not always quick to blush, my ears are burning.

Anyway. You are far from alone in this regard.

Jon said...

Everyone in LA is "really" a screenwriter. Everyone in SF is "really" a high tech genius. The several tech geniuses labor away at their notebooks. The rest update their Facebook pages every few minutes.

Jon said...

My understanding is that a wedding gift can be sent for up to a year after the ceremony. Seems like I read this somewhere. It sounds good.

ib said...

Up to year after anything sounds very reasonable. The sort of timescale even I ought to be able to adhere to.

Anonymous said...

I always dug his tune. Now with his death, I realize it was never in the rotation. Thanks. Hope you're well.