Shuggie Otis

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About Shuggie Otis

R&B songwriter Shuggie Otis released three albums in the ’70s and then disappeared—only to become a cult legend as his laidback psychedelic soul inspired younger artists for decades to come. Otis was born Johnny Alexander Veliotes Jr. in Los Angeles in November 1953. His mom gave him the nickname Shuggie (short for “sugar”), while his dad—R&B impresario Johnny Otis—raised him on blues and jazz. He was just 11 years old when he started playing nightclubs with his dad’s band, bypassing age restrictions with a fake mustache and sunglasses. He built a reputation as a guitar phenom in the studio, recording with the likes of Frank Zappa and Etta James, and released his debut album in 1970. He landed his first hit a year later with the twinkling joy of “Strawberry Letter 23,” which The Brothers Johnson later turned into a smash. But it was Otis’ third album, 1974’s Inspiration Information, that really solidified his reputation—although initially a commercial flop, the self-produced effort eventually became a hot commodity among rare-groove enthusiasts thanks to its innovative funk arrangements and sun-dappled good vibes. The first of multiple Inspiration Information reissues came in 2001 on the Luaka Bop label, and Otis himself made a comeback in 2018 with Inter-Fusion, his first album in four decades.

Los Angeles, CA, United States
November 30, 1953
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