Otis Blackwell was a songwriter whose works included “Great Balls of Fire”, “Fever”, “Don’t Be Cruel” and “All Shook Up”. Born in Brooklyn in 1931, he grew up obsessed with the movies of Tex Ritter. After briefly singing in blues clubs, he signed with RCA in 1952 as a songwriter. With the royalties he collected from his songs, including those above, he was able to live his bon vivant lifestyle. He is survived by his wife and seven children.
Few 1950s rock & roll tunesmiths were as prolifically talented as Otis Blackwell. His immortal compositions include Little Willie John’s “Fever,” Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel” and “All Shook Up,” Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” and “Breathless,” and Jimmy Jones’ “Handy Man” (just for starters).