The Johnny Otis Show Various Artists (Johnny Otis)


Rhythm & Blues
Ace Records
Catalogue Id:

When Johnny Otis first made a name for himself in Los Angeles, it was the post-war golden era of Hamp and Mingus, Club Alabam, The Barrelhouse and Central Avenue-.-the urban crucible within which jazz begat rhythm and blues. A couple of years into the next decade, the action had to shifted slightly to Western and Broadway, Club Oasis, Club Alimony and the 5/4 Ballroom. All these thoroughfares were still geographical slivers of the black American community within the district known as Watts, a community as artistically vibrant as it was economically disenfranchised. And while Johnny Otis commanded tremendous respect for his music amongst that select population, within a couple of years, he would be known throughout southern California as tastemaker supreme to a diverse audience of blacks, whites and hispanics - and the music would no longer be known as rhythm and blues, but as rock'n'roll. Otis went from being dubbed the Duke Ellington of Watts" to becoming "The King Of Rock'n'Roll". And he did it principally through the media of radio and television.

This compilation has been in gestation for several years, ever since a truck showed up at my house one day to deposit boxes and boxes of reel-to-reel tape, all belonging to the distinguished Mr Otis. They had come out of storage from the local public access radio station, where some years prior, some kind of audio-documentary had been apparently planned but never completed. Thanks to Johnny's manager Terry Gould, I had the opportunity to go through the tapes, before they were ultimately returned to their rightful owner. And what a blast that was. Not only did I unearth many missing or unknown tracks from Johnny's mid-1950s Dig and Ultra Records operations, but there was a whole slew of later 1960s and 1970s masters, some of which my colleague Mr Rudland has subsequently let loose upon his numerous and essential funk collections. Most fascinating of all were a large quantity of tapes pertaining to the man's various media pursuits from 1950s Los Angeles, when he was in his prime: airchecks, broadcasts, specially-recorded promotional spots and feeds from TV soundstages. Many were in excellent shape, audio-wise - it would appear that, thanks to his busy schedule performing, producing and A&Ring, he often pre-recorded radio shows at his Hollywood studio, and several of these were amongst the cache.

I subsequently spent some time sifting through the recordings and editing them together, to create a sort of audio-verite collage. Had a ball doing it too. The crux of the compilation are two "in-person" segments, one a live broadcast from the 5/4 Ballroom circa 1953, the other excerpts from the soundtrack of a 1958 instalment of Johnny's influential KTLA-TV show. On both of these, in addition to the swinging Johnny Otis Orchestra, we hear featured vocalists like Marie Adams and Arthur Matthews, and a rare live cut by the Penguins. The remainder of Vintage 1950s Broadcasts From Los Angeles revolves around selected airchecks, with Johnny spinning hot R&B and wisecracking on the radio. As well as rockers from Don & Dewey and Jeani Mack, we hear Johnny's own lost rock'n'roll classic, Tough Enough, familiar to Brits via Sir Cliff's version-.-incredibly the fine, fine original is finally making its CD debut here. There's also the bonus of another unissued Dig side, by the Mermaids. The tunes are interspersed with ads, trailers, a political spot from LA Dodger endorsing Johnny's unsuccessful run for public office, and a hilarious rap with Slim Gaillard and Tim "Kingfish" Moore of the Amos'n'Andy Show.

I owe a special debt to Johnny Otis, as does my wife, Cindy - after all, he did the honours at our wedding! So Vintage 1950s Broadcasts From Los Angeles is just a small thank you, and at best it can only begin to approximate the tremendously important role in which this unique man championed R&B, supported and aided the black community, and turned a whole generation on in the process."

by Alec Palao


Track listing


Side 1

  • 01 Preview Johnny Otis Signature - Johnny Otis and His Orchestra

  • 02 Preview Bump On A Log - Lula Reed

  • 03 Preview Le Coiffeur Ad - Various

  • 04 Preview I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town - Billy Ward & his Dominoes

  • 05 Preview Charles Ltd Ad/Outro - Various

  • 06 Preview Maury Wills Spot - Various

  • 07 Preview Soft - The Johnny Otis Band

  • 08 Preview Metropolitan Ford Ad - Various

  • 09 Preview Sweet Love - The Penguins

  • 10 Preview Willie And The Hand Jive - Johnny Otis

  • 11 Preview El Monte/Laguna Park Ad - Various

  • 12 Preview One Sweet Letter - Marie Adams

  • 13 Preview Harlem Nocturne/Bye Bye Baby (Until We Meet Again) - The Johnny Otis Band

  • 14 Preview House Party PA - Various

  • 15 Preview One O'Clock Jump - The Johnny Otis Band

  • 16 Preview Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean - Marie Adams

  • 17 Preview Midnight At The Barrelhouse - The Johnny Otis Band

  • 18 Preview All Night Long - The Johnny Otis Band

  • 19 Preview I Don't Know (Strut That Thing) - Little Arthur Matthews

  • 20 Preview Baby Don't Do It - Marie Adams

  • 21 Preview Flyin' Home - The Johnny Otis Band

  • 22 Preview New Johnny Otis Show Spot - Various

  • 23 Preview Tough Enough - Johnny Otis & Orchestra vocal by the Jayos

  • 24 Preview Jungle Hop - Kip Tyler & the Flips

  • 25 Preview Slim Gaillard/Kingfish Skit - Various

  • 26 Preview Justine - Don & Dewey

  • 27 Preview Thunderbird Club/Duttons Records Ads - Various

  • 28 Preview Dirty Dishes - Jeani Mack

  • 29 Preview Not Too Young - The Mermaids

  • 30 Preview Sulphur 8 Ad - Various

  • 31 Preview The Dummy - Larry Williams

Delivery & Returns


We offer free P&P to UK addresses. For all other territories packaging is free and postage is charged on a weight basis.

We use Royal Mail First Class for UK deliveries and standard Air Mail for all other territories, very large orders will usually be sent via parcelforce. You may cancel your order at any time prior to your order being dispatched by emailing us at ensuring that you quote your name, address and order reference number or by telephoning +44 (0) 208 453 1311 between 9am and 5pm GMT/BST, Monday to Friday. Please note: As music downloads are dispatched immediately after purchase, there is no possibility of cancelling these orders.

In the event that any products supplied to you by us are damaged or defective, we agree to replace or repair the damaged or defective products or refund the amount you paid for such goods (including postage & packaging) providing you notify us (either via post at or e-mail: ) and return the goods within 28 days of purchase. Physical goods should be sent back to us in the same condition you received them to: “Returns” Ace Records, Such Close, Letchworth Garden City SG6 1JF, United Kingdom. Music downloads should be returned to us via the e-mail address above including a copy of your notification.

You have the right to cancel your order within seven days of purchase, or seven days of receipt of the goods (whichever is the longer). If you choose to cancel your order, full payment will be returned to you. Returned items should be sent to: “Returns” c/o Ace Records, Such Close, Letchworth Garden City SG6 1JF, United Kingdom. Music downloads should be returned to us via the email address: including a copy of your notice of cancellation and order number.

Press quotes


Thoroughly fascinating.

Record Collector

A wonderful artefact from a wonderful musical era.

Blues & Rhythm

Customer reviews


Related products

Customers who bought this item also bought