Otis Blackwell

Otis Blackwell - pianist, vocalist, composer (1931 - 2002)

Otis Blackwell was a pianist and a singer whose vocal style had a strong influence on the young Elvis Presley. Yet he will be remembered best not as a performer but as a one-man song-writing factory who helped to shape 1950’s rock 'n' roll and whose most memorable compositions included “Don't Be Cruel,” “All Shook Up,” “Fever” and “Great Balls of Fire,” all prominent in annals of American popular music.

Born in Brooklyn in 1931, and brought up in New York City, he learned the piano as a child and listened on the radio to rhythm and blues (then known as “race” music) and to country music in films starring such singing cowboys as Gene Autry and Tex Ritter. They were the two elements that were eventually to combine in the early 1950s to create the hybrid that was rock' n' roll.

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