November 28, 2020

Otis Day & the Knights

Otis Day & the Knights are an R&B group originating the 1978 comedy classic Animal House, a spoof of college fraternity life set in 1962. They are known for the two songs they perform in the movie: the 1959 Isley Brothers hit “Shout” and the doowop-y “Shama Lama Ding Dong,” written for the movie by composer and producer Mark Davis.

DeWayne Jessie played Otis in the movie, lip-syncing to recordings by singer Lloyd G. Williams, who would later join the Motown act the Undisputed Truth. (Fun fact: blues guitarist Robert Cray, today a five-time Grammy Award winner, showed up as the Knights’ bassist.) Part of Universal Studios’ stable of character actors, Jessie had previously appeared in such movies as Car Wash and Thank God It’s Friday and had won the NCAA Image Award — Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings.

The fictional Otis Day & the Knights crossed over into the real world after Animal House hit big at the box office. Not long after the movie’s release, its producers encouraged Jessie to tour as Otis, though he hadn’t actually sung the songs on the soundtrack. Finding an enduring audience for the character, especially on the college circuit, the actor later purchased the rights to the name.

Discography

Animal House (Music from the Motion Picture) (1978)
Shout (1989)

Videography

Otis!, My Man! (1986)

Photos