Henry Stone on Johnny Otis: “He Worked With Me On Chart Records”
Johnny Otis discovered Etta James, played on the original Big Momma Thornton song “Hound Dog” made famous by Elvis; and produced early cuts by Little Richard.
Henry Stone said, “Johnny Otis! I recorded in his garage in California, some little sessions for my Chart label.”
Stone had first met Johnny Otis around 1946 on the L.A. r&b club scene, which thrived on Central Avenue. The Chart sessions took place throughout the fifties.
For one, they co-wrote and co-published a song called “Guitar Player” for The Evergreens.
Stone concentrated on Chart Records after a bitter fallout with Syd Nathan of King Records, over royalties due on a label partnership they formed for DeLuxe Records. As part of their eventual settlement, Nathan had to manufacture records for Stone.
Chart Records produced early works by John Lee Hooker, and then doo wop like The Evergreens, The Champions, The Tru-Tones, and The Charms. DJ Alan Freed played all their records on his NYC radio show.
Chart produced a few small hits like “Mexico Bound” by The Champions. Additionally, it served as a launchpad for a guitar playing bluesman by the name of John Lee Hooker who recorded “Wobbling Baby,” and “Goin’ South” for the label in 1955.
Ultimately, Chart paved the way for Stone’s inimitable run of global independent domination in the 1970s. And it was with the help of amazing musicians like Johnny Otis that he had the wherewithal, knowledge, and experience to do so.
Otis died in 2012. He was inducted into the rock n roll hall of fame in 1994.
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