Meet the Blues Hall of Fame's 2022 inductees, from Johnnie Taylor to Otis Blackwell

·4 min read

Johnnie Taylor, whose career began in gospel but hit its commercial highpoint with the salacious innuendo of the 1976 hit "Disco Lady," and Otis Blackwell, whose rhythm-and-blues-based compositions became rock-and-roll hits for Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, are among this year's inductees to the Blues Hall of Fame, the Memphis-based Blues Foundation announced Thursday.

This year's 12 honorees in five categories — Performers, Non-Performing Individuals, Classics of Blues Literature, Classics of Blues Recording (Single), and Classics of Blues Recording (Album) — will be honored in a ceremony at 6:30 p.m. May 4 at the Halloran Centre. The event is scheduled for the night before the 43rd edition of the Blues Music Awards, which is set for May 5 at Memphis’ Renasant Convention Center.

Selected by a committee of "blues scholars and experts representing all subsets of blues music," this year's Hall of Fame inductees "demonstrate how the blues intersects with a wide variety of American music styles," including soul, rhythm and blues, and rock 'n' roll, according to a press release from the Blues Foundation, which administers the Blues Music Awards as well as the Hall of Fame.

According to its website (, the Blues Foundation's fourfold mission is "preserving blues heritage, celebrating blues recording and performance, expanding awareness of the blues genre, and ensuring the future of the music."

The foundation also operates the Blues Hall of Fame Museum at 421 S. Main, which will showcase several items representing the latest inductees beginning the first week of May.

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The three performers inducted into this year's Hall of Fame class include:

  • Arkansas-born Johnnie Taylor, a Sam Cooke associate who became an R&B star at Stax in the 1960s, with such hits as "Cheaper to Keep Her" and the million-selling "Who's Making Love."

  • Lucille Bogan, whose risque records of the 1920s and '30s celebrated sex and alcohol both directly ("Sloppy Drunk Blues," "Shave 'Em Dry") and indirectly: Her famous 1933 recording of "Groceries on the Shelf (Piggly Wiggly)" transformed the self-serve innovation of the Memphis-based grocery store into a sexual come-on: "My name is Piggly Wiggly/ And I swear you can help yourself."

  • Detroit-raised Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Little Willie John, big on talent (his hits for the King label included "Fever" and "All Around the World") but short on temper as well as stature: He died in 1960 of a reported heart attack at the age of 30 inside Washington State Penitentiary, where he was serving time on a manslaughter conviction.

The inductees in the "non-performing" category (a misnomer, in the case of Otis Blackwell) include:

  • Brooklyn's Otis Blackwell, a singer and pianist who performed at Harlem's famous Apollo Theater as a young man but found greater success as a songwriter, penning such Elvis hits as "Don't Be Cruel," "Return to Sender" and "All Shook Up," as well as "Great Balls of Fire" and "Breathless," both made famous by Jerry Lee Lewis, and "Fever," which was a hit for Little Willie John and Peggy Lee.

  • Grammy-nominated music historian Mary Katherine Aldin, who has spent the past 60 years behind the scenes in the blues and folk music worlds, as a public radio disc jockey and as a compiler or annotator of blues and folk reissue albums for Rhino, Vanguard, MCA/Chess, Columbia and other labels.

Lucille Bogan
Lucille Bogan

Classics of blues recording to be inducted into the Hall of Fame include Bo Diddley's 1958 debut album for Chess/Checker, titled "Bo Diddley," along with these releases: Roy Brown's "Good Rocking Tonight" (DeLuxe, 1947); "Rollin' and Tumblin'" (Parkway, 1950), by the Baby Face Leroy Trio; "Eyesight to the Blind" (Trumpet, 1951), by Sonny Boy Williamson II; Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Farther Up the Road" (Duke, 1957); B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby" (Kent, 1964).

Hey, Bo Diddley! Your first album is being inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame!
Hey, Bo Diddley! Your first album is being inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame!

Entering the Hall of Fame as a "Classic of Blues Literature" is "Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southeast," by English folklorist Bruce Bastin, originally published in 1986 by the University of Illinois Press.

Due to the shutdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2022 Hall of Fame ceremony will be the first since 2019. Announced in late 2019, the inductees for 2020 also will be honored during the May event. (Because of the pandemic delays, no new inductees were announced for 2021.)

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Blues Hall of Fame's 2022 inductees: Johnnie Taylor, Otis Blackwell, more