February 04, 2005

Feel-Good Music

The ultimate funk album cover


Blogger Roy said...

This is ferocious. I love these boys. However, ther is living in New York City, right now, a great drummer named Charles "Honeyboy" Otis. He claims to have been playing drums and shaved potatoes on a board in the intro to "Iko, Iko", by the Dixie Cups. As you know Red-Bird lists no personnel. In addition "Honeyboy" claims to have come up with the beat used on "Hey-Pokey-Way". Given that no musician ever lies, I thought you should know.

5:22 PM, February 04, 2005  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

I love this stuff. I have finally tracked down some information about Mr. Otis, who I found listed as Charles "Honeyman" Otis. Seems he was in NY during the mid '60's in the band of Joe Jones, who brought the Dixie Cups and Alvin Robinson to Lieber and Stoller from NO. But, according to my sources, the Dixie Cups played their own percussion (on bottles and an ashtray, I think) on "Iko, Iko", as it was an off the cuff, not on the list bit of vocalizing - but other percussion was added later. So he could be on the final mix.

As for originating the "Hey Pocky A-Way" groove, I think the line is long for that honor, as it is definitely a second line type thing that is in the blood of New Orleans drummers going way back. Zig Modeliste says he first played that particular version of the groove on that Dr. John song and then the Meters built "Pocky" on top of it - but nobody owns it, as far as I am concerned.

That said, Honeyman Otis goes way back. I found him credited as drummer on a Lloyd Price session from 1952.
Redbrid seems to have a single by The Honey Man, too. He's also on a 1966 Coaster's session with fellow homeboys James Booker and Mel Lastie. He did session work for Don Covay, Barbara Lewis and John Hammond, Jr.
The man is no slouch. Hey, Roy, get me an inteview!

12:34 AM, February 05, 2005  
Blogger Roy said...

Dan: Great piece of Detective work on "Honeyman" Otis. Where can one find those coasters sides you spoke about? As for the interview with Otis, I'm having dinner with him next week so the line forms right behind me.

#2- How could you lend creedence to Deep Soul Junkie's rave about that cut he posted from the Jazzman's collection? I wrote to him saying that
"I don't get it! This sounds like the shit we used to play in the studio as a warm-up until the Producer said "Allright guys let's get back to work. Roy count it off" I have a trunk ful of jams and out-takes (instrumental only) But my throw- aways include Chuck Rainey, Richard Tee, David Spinoza,etc .Not that crap! You want funk that's great? The Packers-"Hole in the wall. Dyke and the Blazers (anything) The Meters (anything) Alvin Cash (Twine time) blah blah blah .

11:35 AM, February 05, 2005  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

First things first. The Coasters tracks Honeyman played on are "Soul Pad" and "Down Home Girl". You can find them on at least one Coasters complication I found on Amazon.com. Give Mr. Otis my regards as you wine and dine him to get the secrets of his soul. . . and ask him what it was like to do a session with James Booker while you're at it.

As for #2, I can't help you here, as I have not discussed anything on Deep Soul Junkie's blog here on HOTG. So, it's not relevant to this blog. I'll be glad to discuss it via email. Thanks.

10:05 PM, February 05, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dwight here (choc milk). Dan , of course that was two of my bandmates on horns ;Amadee and Joe. I don't remember who the other horns were. Wardell did the arrangements. also talking about that drumbeat, yes everybody played that. It was a parade beat! Zig is one of my good friends and mentors. my Mom still tells stories of the way Zig would talk when he would call the house looking for me. She would ask "who's calling" zig always answered "This is Zig baby!". The Meters were good friends and mentors to us during that time. We were just out of high school. during the years I spent recording at Sea Saint on any given night some of the regulars you might find there included; Earl King(always had wild stories), James Booker(a supreme character), Irma Thomas(singing background), the Meters, Chocolate Milk, Dr. John various Nevilles,Lee Dorsey, Ernie K Doe, Allen Toussaint, visiting artists , large amounts of soul food, spirits and what not! It was the most wonderful time of my life (and remember, I travelled the world). That whole period was pure magic!
BTW, I looked for you at the Parade last saturday, but obviously , i was in the wrong spot. I had the CD for you. I gotta get it to you some way. I'll email you.

12:04 AM, February 06, 2005  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Thanks, once again, Dwight. I'm moving your info up to the main page with a few addtional clarifications. And, yes, sorry I missed you at Krewe du Vieux. I'll be in NOLA after Mardi Gras, maybe Wednesday, not sure yet. Please e-mail me at hotg@bellsouth.net; and I'll do my best to meet up witcha.

12:33 AM, February 06, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I realize this is long past the original conversation, but I just came across the comments on Charles Honeyboy Otis (Honeyboy's the nickname; Honeyman the name he recorded "Last Clean Shirt/Brother Bill" under). I showed the statements to Charles, and he asked me to set the record straight.

1) Charles has never claimed to have originated the "Hey Pockaway" beat.

2) He has never recorded with Barbara Lewis.

3) The Dixie Cups played no percussion at all in the recording of "Iko,Iko." Charles did the percussion. The group did later play their own percussion in live performances.

9:09 PM, December 29, 2006  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

First of all, let me apologize for having a separate post for the cover shot and the actual body of the piece - confusing. Glad I stopped doing that.

Martha, it's never too late to post wothwhile information. So thanks for this:
1) Glad to hear it, since he didn't. Roy, the commenter, likely just misunderstood.
2) Thanks for this clarification. I got that tidbit off a web search at the time. Never pursued it.
3) I'm impressed that Mr. Otis did all that percussion himself - great job. Thanks for that clarification of Roy's original comment, which was somewhat confusing to me. I stand corrected.

Please give 'Honeyboy' our best regards. If he has any desire to communicate further on New Orleans music, drumming, whatever, feel free to e-mail me through the link on the left side of this (or any) HOTG page.

2:35 PM, December 30, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just stumbled onto this blog---I've known Charles a great many year, yes an incredible musicians, lots of history, great stories too. Professor Longhair was his first gig at 15. Fess bought him his first Union card. Otis told me he played the Iko Iko percussion using drum sticks hitting an ashtray. Otis and the girls were in the control room, messing around, the engineer turned on the tape...voila, the hit song of the album.

5:16 PM, March 13, 2008  
Blogger pstoller said...

The story about how Charles Otis and "Iko Iko" is an interesting one. Alas, that's not how Mike Stoller or the Dixie Cups remember it.

According to them, "Iko Iko" was recorded at a vocal overdub and mixing session for "People Say" at Mira Sound. Brooks Arthur (the engineer), Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and Mike Stoller were in the control room, mixing, while the Dixie Cups were fooling around in the studio.

Arthur turned on the studio mics by chance, and that's when they heard the Dixie Cups singing "Iko Iko." They loved it, and quickly threw together the percussion and vocal arrangement, with Barry and Greenwich on percussion and Stoller playing the bass line on a kalimba. Nobody else was in the studio. (Also, contrary to some stories, there was no later bass and percussion overdub session; all the instruments were recoded "live" that day.)

Leiber & Stoller and Barry & Greenwich employed the wonderful Charles Otis on a great many Red Bird and Blue Cat sessions, amongst others...but not that one.

5:46 PM, September 15, 2008  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Well, I assume that pstoller is somehow related to Mike Stoller and, thus, has a good source for this information. This has been a fascinating three year (plus) thread that keeps picking back up.

Seems like Honeyman/Honeyboy Otis is outnumbered on this one - by the Dixie Cups themselves and, now, someone in the control room. I always wondered what that bass instrument was. A kalimba sounds right. Might be time to do a revised post on all this.

No one has yet mentioned that the girls also recorded another Mardi Gras Indian tune, "Two-Way Poc-Away", that came out on ABC in 1965. I have it on a European CD comp of their stuff.

Thanks to all for the insights, I'll be working some more on it.

11:11 PM, September 15, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I called Charles at home once and Ziggy Modaliste answered the phone. He did tell me that Charles Otis signed for him to get his union card.

2:42 AM, July 03, 2013  
Anonymous Ron said...

Sorry to tell you that Charles has passed away, just last night. I was looking for his bio online, and stumbled across this discussion. Charles was a giant of a drummer, and a giant of a man. Mentor to MANY musicians. Teacher of Jaimoe of the Allman Brothers Band, teacher to Ziggy Modeliste, Father figure to just about every young musician who came into contact with him over the years. He will be sorely missed, and always spoken of with reverence and respect. There is a Facebook group called Friends of Charles Honeyboy Otis where you can hear a lot of the recordings he played on, read personal stories, and see a lot of great photos. He was a very modest man, but had a hell of a career. He definitely deserves a lot more recognition than he ever got. He was the drummer on my very first gig as a band leader. One of the greatest people I have ever known. RIP Charles.

11:00 PM, October 06, 2015  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

First off, apologies to those whose comments were delayed getting posted. For some reason, my notifications of new comments was turned off for months. I just thought nobody was out there!!!

Anyway, Ron, thank you for this sad update on the demise of Honeyboy. As I said several years ago now, I need to do a revised post on this song and the conflicting stories. It's been too long. Hope to do it for Carnival season. (He said with high hopes....)

8:30 AM, October 08, 2015  

Post a Comment

<< Home