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REGENT 1018; MAY 1950

 
 

 

With so many different tasks to undertake – and so many different personalities to keep happy when doling out assignments – it’s frankly amazing that Johnny Otis was so prolific during this calendar year when virtually everything he touched turned to gold.

In the past few years he’d assembled a band that was second to none with almost every member of the loose-knit group capable of headlining instrumentals… from multiple saxophonists in his lineups to a hot-shot guitarist, rock-solid pianist and Otis himself on drums. Until recently however they’d lagged behind when it came to striking gold with those turning in vocals for him but in late 1949 he finally put together the core singers who’d take him and his outfit from being seen as merely highly respected musicians to being the most all-encompassing juggernaut in all of rock.

He first put together The Robins to compete with the best in the business before losing them this winter in a dispute over money and credit, but by then he’d already turned 13 year old Little Esther into the biggest star in the industry with her first few releases after signing with Savoy. Then, needing a male counterpart, he recruited former local football star Mel Walker and he was now molding him into a vocal heartthrob.
 
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