26 January 2007

Something 4 The Weekend # 23

Shuggie Otis was Prince when Prince was a pimply little kid. He was a DIY songwriter/musician/producer who did everything himself, and what he did was Funk, Blues, Soul, R'n'B, Rock, Ambient, and hell, he even did Techno in a time (circa 1970), when Techno didn't even exist. The icing on the cake, as far as I'm concerned, is the fact that Shuggie played bass on Frank Zappa's initial recording of "Peaches En Regalia", off Zappa's Hot Rats album. Also of note is the fact that Shuggie was offered the second guitarist slot in The Rolling Stones after Mick Taylor left the band. Shuggie declined, and Ron Wood has been a Stone ever since.

I'm not exactly sure why Shuggie Otis never became a household name. He had all the skills, style, and good looks one might expect of a musical superstar, and yet, here we are 35 years after he hit the scene, with only two or three albums to enjoy, and there appears to be no indication that Shuggie will ever try to make a comeback. These days he lives quietly in northern California, as much a recluse as Sly Stone.

My guess is he's living comfortably off the royalties from the song, "Strawberry Letter 23", a composition of his that The Brothers Johnson took all the way to the very top of the Billboard Singles chart in 1977.

Speaking of that song...I dated a girl named Pamela (always Pamela, never Pam) all through high school, and our (well, Pamela's) favorite sex music was courtesy of Donna Summer's Bad Girls album. After that one, however, it was The Brothers Johnson's Right On Time album, featuring, yes..."Strawberry Letter 23". We had no idea at the time that it was a Shuggie Otis song, and why should we care. The sex was hot and sloppy teenage sex, and we were in love.

I wonder what ever happened to Pamela?

Hotcha! Hank

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