Charles "Honeyman" Otis

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Charles Otis is a major figure in blues drumming, his influence spreading like an overturned drum of molasses into the worlds of rock and R&B through his inclusion in so many recording settings. Perhaps…
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Charles Otis is a major figure in blues drumming, his influence spreading like an overturned drum of molasses into the worlds of rock and R&B through his inclusion in so many recording settings. Perhaps honey would be a more appropriate sticky substance to mention, since it figures into nicknames this New Orleans artist has been stuck with, most notably Charles "Honeyman" Otis, but Charles "The Honey Boy" Otis as well. He is also known for performing with a toothpick in his mouth, even for never being seen without a toothpick whether he is performing or not, a habit that may or may not be connected to the honey fixation. Since 1964, when he was part of the rhythm section of the Joe Jones' Crescent City band at a pavilion in the New York World's Fair, Big Apple studio drummers as well as bandleaders such as soulman Don Covay have asked questions such as: How does Otis make it sound like he is playing the beat backwards? Is he available? If not, who can we get that will play like him? Otis has performed on recordings by artists such as Fats Domino, Lionel Hampton, Chuck Berry, John Hammond, the Drifters, and the Coasters. He also dabbled as a recording artist on his own, sticking to the name "The Honey Man," for a release on the Redbird label of a song he wrote with the help of ace songwriting team Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller. This ditty is known under two titles, "Brother Bill" and "The Last Clean Shirt," and has also been recorded by the Animals, Bing Crosby, and T-Bone Walker. Otis shows no sign of damming the flow of honey in the new millennium. He is a regular part of the blues scene at the Dan Lynch bar in New York City, and in 2003 recorded with the Welsh songwriter and performer Huw Gower.