John Veliotes was born in 1921. Although his family was Greek, they lived in a black neighborhood in Oakland, California. He began playing jump blues as a child of his environment, working as a drummer in local African-American bands during his youth, and when he formed his first jump blues band in the mid-1940's, he shortened his surname to Otis. He soon took his band to LA, where he still lives. He had 10 hits on the R&B charts during the 40's and 50's, and his band was the backing band for R&B hits by many other artists, too numerous to even mention.
One of the important early pioneers of R&B, Johnny Otis is just as active in his 80's as he was in his youth. Besides being an active musician, he teaches music history at the University of California, has a radio program every Saturday morning, has been a minister, has written books on music, art, and cooking, is an artist (he usually does his own album covers), is an outspoken celebrity in R&B circles, and he even has his own website, which we defer you to now! He's also been inducted into the Rhythm And Blues Hall Of Fame, as well as the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
Johnny's autobiography on his own web site.