by Robert Wilkinson
Today we send a birthday shout out to four major musical talents, each a legend in their own right! It's a big Happy to Johnny Otis, Edgar Winter, Earl Hines, and Alex Chilton.
We begin with the remarkable Johnny Otis (December 28, 1921 – January 17, 2012). Johnny Otis died this year after a career that spanned almost 60 years. Known as "the Godfather of Rhythm and Blues," he did everything from big band to boogie woogie to rock and roll. He discovered Etta James, Jackie Wilson, Hank Ballard, and Little Willie John, and produced the original recording of "Hound Dog" by Big Mama Thornton. For those things alone we all owe him big time (not to mention that he's also the father of Shuggie Otis!) Heeeere's Johnny!
One of the early standards of rock and roll done by hundreds of artists, here's Johnny Otis performing his monster hit on his tv show, "Willie and the Hand Jive."
From the 50s, an entire episode from KTLA of the Johnny Otis Show with Lionel Hampton
Here’s a great video clip from the early 70s with Johnny Otis, Shuggie Otis, and Roy Buchanan in a blistering performance of “Sweet Home Chicago” and “Bye Bye Baby”
Set to stills, the 1945 single of Johnny Otis doing the classic "Harlem Nocturne."
From the Johnny Otis show in 1959, here's the original single of Johnny's composition "Telephone Baby."
Also from a 1959 single, Johnny Otis ripping off his own composition, coming up with "Castin my spell"
Johnny Otis doing a funky instrumental a la the late 50s and early 60s called "The Hash."
We'll close today with one from a loooong time ago, featuring some cool jazz via Johnny and his orchestra, composed of some cats from Count Basie's band. For your enjoyment, "Jimmy's Round the Clock blues."
From here we give a very Merry and Happy everything to Edgar Winter (December 28, 1946). Brother of blues guitar Master Johnny Winter, Edgar has been a major player in his own right.
First, Edgar's huge hit! From "the Midnight Special" tv show in 1973, here's the Edgar Winter Group doing a 9 minute live performance of "Frankenstein."
Here's Edgar doing a live version of another of his smash hits, "Free Ride"
From Denmark in 1970, Edgar and Johnny doing a great live performance of "Fast Life Rider."
We'll close with a great live audio-only recording from March 1970 of Edgar and his brother Johnny doing a 15 minute version of "Tobacco Road."
And now, last but never least, we celebrate the birthday of Jazz Piano Master Earl "Fatha" Hines (December 28, 1903 – April 22, 1983). He mentored a bunch of the greats, and was integral to the sounds created by Louis Armstrong, Billy Eckstine, Nat "King" Cole, Charlie Parker, and Duke Ellington, who said that "the seeds of bop were in Earl Hines's piano style."
From Wikipedia, "Hines was one of the most influential figures in the development of modern jazz piano and, according to one major source, is 'one of a small number of pianists whose playing shaped the history of jazz.'"
A little more: "On 28 December 1928 (so on his 25th birthday and 6 weeks before The Saint Valentine's Day massacre) the flashily-dressed and always-immaculate Hines opened at Chicago's Grand Terrace Cafe leading his own big-band, the pinnacle of jazz ambition at the time. "All America was dancing", Hines said - and for the next 12 years and through the worst of the Great Depression and Prohibition Earl Hines was "The Orchestra" in The Grand Terrace." (It just so happened that Al Capone owned the Grand Terrace, so Earl was Al Capone's house band!)
Here's the Piano Man!
We start with a video of Earl performing live in Berlin in 1965! For your enjoyment, "Memories of You." From the same jazz workshop, here's Earl and Teddy Wilson doing one of my faves, the classic "All of Me."
The Earl Hines Band live at Jazztage Berlin, November 1970 performing “Easy To Love,” “I Feel So Smoochie,” “Flowers,” and “Things Ain't What They Used To Be”
From 1976 at Wolf Trap Park Jazz Festival, a live 15 minutes of pure performance gold!
From the 1979 International Jazz Festival in Antibes, France, here’s a three part live performance!
Now for some great studio recordings!
From September 1928, the studio recording of "Caution Blues."
From December 1928, the studio recording of "I Ain't Got Nobody"
From 1929, the studio recording of "Glad Rag Doll."
From 1938, the Earl Hines Orchestra studio version of "Please Be Kind."
From 1939, “Rosetta”
From 1940, the original studio version of "Boogie Woogie On Saint Louis Blues"
From the Swing Era, here's Earl doing a great version of "Blue Skies."
Here's the studio version of "Blues in Thirds"
From January 1960, “Satin Doll”
From the 1965 album, "Live at the Village Vanguard," here's Earl in an audio-only live performance of "Lover come back to me"
With Budd Johnson wailing on sax, “Blues for Sale”
We'll close this birthday celebration with something Earl did in 1969, "You Are Too Beautiful."
If you want to know more about this legend, I found a great 7 part biography!
So it's a big Happy Birthday to 3 great 20th Century talents spanning over 70 years of great music! Some of the best of all time....
© Copyright 2012 Robert Wilkinson
ps - I only just found out that it's also Alex Chilton's birthday! Alex Chilton (December 28, 1950 – March 17, 2010) was the smoky lead vocal on "The Letter," "Cry Like A Baby," and more. Sorry that these live performances are all lip-synched, but that's the way it mostly was back then. RIP Alex. Wish you had outlived your second Saturn return ...