Growing up in the 1950s it is hard not to remember the great sounds of early rock and roll.  One of the songs that became a huge hit was recorded by the legendary R&B bandleader/composer…Johnny Otis…the classic…WILLIE AND THE HAND JIVE.  The single record on Capitol Records (3966), made its Billboard Top 100 debut on June 23, 1958 and charted at #9.  The record remained on the Top 100 for 16 weeks.  WILLIE AND THE HAND JIVE charted even higher on the Billboard R&B chart, reaching #3.  The song is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame..

With its great rhythm and beat the record was a natural for the teen market.  Johnny was born John Veliotes on December 28, 1921 in Vallejo, California.  In 1945 he started his own band, charting many hit records…one of his best is his version of HARLEM NOCTURNE-1951.  He wrote, EVERY BEAT OF MY HEART which became a big hit for Gladys Knight and The Pips in 1961.

Johnny was known as the “Godfather of Rhythm and Blues”.  Johnny’s R&B Caravan featured the top R&B artists of the 1950s.  He is credited with discovering, Jackie Wilson, Hank Ballard and Little Willie John to name a few.  He was also a well-known DJ in Los Angeles.

Johnny charted four hit records in the rock era, the biggest of course is his classic,  WILLIE AND THE HAND JIVE.  Others include,  CRAZY COUNTRY HOP-#87 in 1958…CASTIN’ MY SPELL-#52 in 1959 and MUMBLIN’ MOSIE-#80 in 1960.  All of the single records were released on Capital Records.

Johnny Otis was selected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 (non-performer).  On January 17, 2012 Johnny passed away at the age of 90.  His music lives on…in our hearts and minds…remembering the days of WILLIE AND THE HAND JIVE…wonderful memories from the “GOLDEN ERA OF ROCK AND ROLL.


Willie And The Hand Jive

Crazy Country Hop

Willie Did The Cha Cha Cha—Flip side of “Crazy Country Hop”

Till the next time—Joe