The Greek-American R&B Legend Who Passed as Black

Johnny Otis Felt He Had Been ‘Saved’ by the Political, Spiritual, and Moral Force of African-American Culture 

If a role exists in black music that Johnny Otis couldn’t play, it would be hard to find. Known as the godfather of rhythm and blues, Otis was a bandleader, talent scout, singer, drummer, minister, journalist, and television show host. Between 1950 and 1952, Johnny and his band recorded 15 top 40 R&B blues hits. He discovered, produced and promoted a roster of stars, including Etta James, Little Esther, and Jackie Wilson.

Otis was not only a trailblazer in the world of music but also a religious leader and political …

When L.A.’s Recording Studios Ruled the Music Scene

The City's Irreplaceable "Temples of Sound" Were Customized With Hot Tubs, Personal Chefs, and Waterbeds

It was 1962, and the rock and roll record business was on the rise after the multiyear slump that had followed the debuts of artists like Elvis, Chuck Berry, and …

Rock on, Grandpa

More Than Ever, Aging Bands Are Strapping on Guitars and Squeezing Into Leather Pants to Strut Back on Stage

On a balmy evening last month, I sat on a beach in Santa Cruz and watched the five black-clad members of Blue Öyster Cult stride onto a stage and launch …

Art Laboe

Without Art Laboe, I’m So Lonely I Could Cry

The Icon Who Coined ‘Oldies but Goodies’ Is No Longer on L.A.’s Airwaves

The town I live in is lonely. So lonely I could cry. So goes the refrain from one of Thee Midniters’ hits, and such is the feeling in my heart …

Was Rock ’n’ Roll America’s Greatest Revolution?

How Rock Music Has Been Raising Hell Since It Was Born

At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, Bob Dylan plugged in his electric guitar live for the first time—and an audience expecting acoustic folk songs booed through “Like a Rolling Stone.” …

Alberto ‘Beto’ Escoto

A Guadalajara Music Legend Keeps On Drumming In Tempe

When Alberto “Beto” Escoto was 5 years old in Guadalajara, he would tap the kitchen tabletop in rhythm with the military band marching down the street. A fork and spoon …