Friday, February 02, 2007


There are at least two versions of how Johnny Otis discovered Etta James: Otis's version is that she came to his hotel room after one of his performances in San Francisco and persuaded him to audition her. Another frequently told story is that Otis spotted her performing in an L.A. nightclub with The Peaches and, having conceived of the answer song to Hank Ballard's "Work With Me, Annie," arranged with the Bihari brothers for Modern Records to record "The Wallfower" with James. "The Wallflower" reached number two on the rhythm and blues charts in February 1955 but was undercut in the wider market by a rushed out cover version by Georgia Gibbs on Mercury Records. The song's royalties were divided between Hank Ballard, Etta James, and Johnny Otis, and its huge success attracted the attention of the R&B world, resulting in James going on tour with Little Richard. On the tour, according to James, she witnessed and experienced situations which minors are not usually privy to and acquired a drug habit