Singer-songwriter legend Shuggie Otis tells the story of how he concocted his own stew of psychedelic guitar soul. Inspiration Information!
The son of rhythm‘n’blues pioneer Johnny Otis, Shuggie Otis used to watch his dad’s band practise at home while growing up, and had already clocked up studio hours as a session player with Al Kooper, Frank Zappa and Etta James by his early teens. When Shuggie’s debut album Here Comes Shuggie Otis hit stores, blues hero BB King was hailing Shuggie as his “favorite new guitarist”, and brimming with natural musicianship and youthful exuberance, Shuggie hit his creative stride and followed up with two records, Freedom Flight and Inspiration Information. Mixing swirling organs and drum machine grooves with his own guitar chops, he created his own blend of psyched-out blues, which has gone on to inspire a whole generation of artists such as Prince, David Byrne, or Lenny Kravitz, to name but a few. His classic “Strawberry Letter 23” didn’t just break the charts when the Brothers Johnson covered it, but its laidback groove and sunny changes caught the imagination of producers and artists from Outkast and Dilla, to Raphael Saadiq. In the ’90s Shuggie Otis became a cult figure among a new wave of young music lovers, with the re-release of his classic album Inspiration Information. Today Shuggie still plays studio sessions and shows, and his deft touch on the guitar will never go out of fashion. The rest of the world is still catching up.