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Johnny Otis, who recorded 1960s hit song 'Willie and the Hand Jive,' dies at 90
LOS ANGELES (AP) ' Johnny Otis, who made the R&B classic "Willie and the Hand Jive" and evangelized black music to white audiences as a bandleader and radio host, has died in California at 90.
His manager, Terry Gould, says Otis died Tuesday at his home in Altadena.
Otis, who was white, grew up in a black section of Berkeley and adopted black culture as his own. He started his musical career as a drummer. By 1945, was a band leader and had a hit with "Harlem Nocturne."
Otis' 1958 recording of "Willie and the Hand Jive" sold more than 1.5 million copies.
He also wrote "Every Beat of My Heart," which was a hit for Gladys Knight and the Pips, and discovered such R&B artists such as Etta James and Big Mama Thornton.