Shuggie Otis Comes to Brooklyn Tomorrow Night

April 18th, 2013

Like so many of us, much of Johnny Alexander Veliotes Jr. stems from his parents. His prodigious musical chops were passed down from his dad, R&B pioneer Johnny Otis, and his nickname—short for sugar—came courtesy of his mom. Because without them, the world wouldn’t know of Shuggie Otis. A precocious child, he first appeared on an album when he was just 15, which would be a pretty big deal for most kids. But then the next year, 1969, his debut album, Here Comes Shuggie Otis, arrived. Freedom Flight, led by “Ice Cold Daydream” and “Strawberry Letter 23,” followed in 1971. The latter song became known the world over several years later thanks to the Quincy Jones–produced version done by the Brothers Johnson. Otis would then spend three years writing, arranging, producing and recording the soul, funk and psychedelic cult classic Inspiration Information, out in 1974. And then: poof. That was it. Despite overtures from the likes of Jones, the Rolling Stones and Billy Preston, Otis declined to tour or put out any more new music—other than working as a sideman—and eventually his recording contract was nullified. But, fortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Because two days ago Inspiration Information was reissued alongside Wings of Love (stream both below), comprised of unreleased material dating back to 1975. And while that’s great news, the absolute best part of this is that you can see Shuggie Otis tomorrow night at Music Hall of Williamsburg— and you can try to win two tickets.