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Midnight at the BarrelhouseThe Johnny Otis Story$
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George Lipsitz

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780816666782

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816666782.001.0001

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Central Avenue Breakdown

Central Avenue Breakdown

Chapter:
(p.1) One Central Avenue Breakdown
Source:
Midnight at the Barrelhouse
Author(s):

George Lipsitz

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816666782.003.0001

This chapter details Johnny Otis’ early life and years growing up with his Greek immigrant family during the 1920s, along with the struggles of being a Greek American experiencing vicious nativist prejudice and violence at that time. The son of Alexander and Irene Veliotes, Johnny Otis was born in Vallejo, California, and into a full-on Greek household who strove to become American in their own way. Music was an important part of the Veliotes household, who often phonograph records by Greek artists such as Roza Eskenazi, Rita Abtasi, and Marika Papagika, among others. Despite his love for Greek music, Otis was more interested in the blues music resounding in their neighborhood. The first notable influence on him was Robert Johnson. He particularly liked the song “Terraplane Blues”.

Keywords:   Johnny Otis, 1920s Greek immigration, Greek music, Roza Eskenazi, Rita Abtasi, Marika Papagika, blues music, Robert Johnson

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