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Otis Blackwell’s Birthday

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The late, great songwriter extraordinaire Otis Blackwell was born 74 years ago today, on February 16, 1931. A black man from Brooklyn who grew up idolizing the cowboy singing of Tex Ritter, Blackwell was one of the couple most accomplished songwriters for the first generation of rock and roll. Elvis Presley and especially Jerry Lee Lewis certainly owe much of their early success to his songs.

The story goes that he wrote “All Shook Up” in answer to a challenge by a publisher to write a song about a shaken bottle of soda pop.

Catch a 1969 interview with Mr Blackwell right here.

It is said that he never actually met Elvis, and he had to give Elvis partial songwriting credit when Presley didn’t write anything. Nonetheless, he came out alright with the business. “I wrote my songs, I got my money and I boogied.”

Among his best known compositions:

Great Balls of Fire

All Shook Up
One Broken Heart for Sale
Return to Sender
Don’t Be Cruel
Handy Man (yep, the James Taylor song)

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  • ray (moochie) gomez

    otis, do you remember working with a band in 1968 in a basement on 6th ave? you came to help us prep for recording, you had billy dawn with you.
    I live in california and it would mean a great deal to me if you would contact me.