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Otis Jackson Sr., Soul Singer and Session Musician for Tina Turner and Others, Father of Hip-Hop Stars Madlib and Oh No, Dead at 77

Photo Credit: @nowagain (Instagram)
Over the weekend, it came to light that Otis Jackson Sr., the father of two hip-hop prodigies celebrated for both their rap and production skills, died on April 13 at the age of 77.

The death of Jackson Sr., a singer and a session musician for jazz and soul gigs for act including Tina Turner and Bobby “Blue” Bland and whose singing is said to have impressed famed producer Axelrod, was announced Sunday on Instagram by Eothen Alapatt, seven days before what would have been his 78th birthday.

The former general manager of Stones Throw Records, the independent music label which represents a majority of Jackson Sr.’s sons Otis “Madlib” Jackson Jr. and Michael “Oh No” Jackson’s work, Alapatt — known professionally as Egon — wrote a touching tribute to the man he said was directly responsible for Madlib and Oh No’s rise in the industry and was a musician of note himself.

“He was born nearly 78 years ago, on May 8th, 1944. He died on April 13th. I knew him nearly as long as I’ve known Madlib and Oh No, and any that know the brothers, and so many of their compatriots, know that they got their start in music because of Otis’s, and his wife Sinesca’s, belief in their musical excellence,” Alapatt wrote on Sunday.

He continued, “He should be one to know – he was a soul singer of high regard, the kind of singer who even impressed the great David Axelrod, who, in our first meeting, was effusive in his praise for Madlib’s dad.”

Alapatt noted that Axelrod’s best friend, H.B. Barnum, produced a series of songs for Jackson Sr., two of which saw release on Mega Records.

“Beggin’ for a Broken Heart” and “Message to the Ghetto” were released by the label in 1974. In 2006, Jackson released his full-length debut album “The Art of Love,” which featured production work from both his famous sons and an uncredited rap from Oh No on “It's All The Same (Hip Hop).”

Alapatt added that he had been working to compile Jackson Sr.’s other singles into an album and shared the liner notes from music journalist Jeff Mao, a former staff writer at Vibe and XXL magazines, who agreed to work on the project.

“Encompassing tenor and baritone ranges in performance, and punctuated by an occasional mischievous chuckle in conversation, his instrument reflects the ups-and-downs of a decades-long journey – from community gospel prodigy to independent soul navigating an unforgiving music industry to parent and mentor of two revered hip-hop production auteurs,” Mao wrote in part. “It also happens to command, with a grace and gravitas commensurate with these experiences, as impeccable a handful of rare soul recordings as you’ll hear.”

The album will be released next year according to Alapatt.

No cause of death has been released and neither Madlib nor Oh No have publicly commented on their loss, but other members of the Stones Throw Records family took to the internet to pay their respects to Jackson Sr., including Lootpack’s Wildchild.

“RIP Mr Jackson!” he wrote on Instagram. “This Gentleman here was the 1st meaning of support for me! He was my (Equalizer) ‘This ain’t yo house, Get yo feet off my couch Jack, but make yourself at home but realize this ain’t your home so respect my s—t!’ Lol I didn’t get that til later in life.”

He continued, “He wasn’t my father but gave guidance as a father figure would do. He was there when Lootpack was first formed. He was our first manager as our crew CDP was developing. He and Mrs Jackson (RIP) were both there when I decided to propose to my wife @cyndeebrown . I witnessed how he supported his sons @ohnothedisrupt & @madlib as we jumped into HIPHOP. For that I will always be thankful. May you rest in Heaven Mr Jackson.”

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