Famous Music Publishing has picked up exclusive worldwide rights for most of the classic pop and R&B songs written by Clyde Otis and Brook Benton. The long-term pact with Famous, the music publishing division of Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, is the first of its kind for the Clyde Otis Music Group.
The deal was struck by Otis’ children: Isidro Otis, who is president of the Clyde Otis Music Group; Clyde Otis III, VP of business affairs; and Ana Iza Otis, VP of film and television. The three have been running the company since the semi-retirement of its founder and chairman, Clyde Otis, 79, who remains active in Nashville.
After scoring his first hit in 1954 with Nat “King” Cole & the Four Knights’ “That’s All There Is to That,” New York cabbie Otis traded the steering wheel for the studio knob. He joined Mercury’s A&R department and began writing and producing material for his signee Benton, including the 1959 No. 3 song “It’s Just a Matter of Time” — the first of 17 straight hits for the creative duo.
Otis produced Dinah Washington’s classic “What a Difference a Day Makes” and Sarah Vaughan’s “Broken-Hearted Melody” and wrote and produced for the likes of Aretha Franklin, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Timi Yuro and Johnny Mathis.
Otis produced 33 of Mercury’s 51 hit singles in 1962. Moving to Nashville, he wrote and produced for country artists including Charlie Rich, Glen Campbell, Barbara Mandrell, Sonny James and Don Williams via his Eden Music Corp. country music pubbery.
In addition to Otis and Benton, songwriters included in the catalog are Larry Harrison, Danny Small, Joe Seneca and Rose Marie McCoy.
The majority of songs are contained in the Clyde Otis Music Group’s Vanessa Music (ASCAP) and Iza Music (BMI) catalogs. Included are such much-covered hits as “Endlessly,” “Topsy,” “A Lover’s Question,” “Baby, You’ve Got What It Takes” and “Break It to Me Gently.”