Shuggie Otis (L.A.)
Shuggie Otis' career is littered with negligible record sales, poor label decisions and long periods of inactivity and somehow he has still managed to achieve a legendary status among his rabidly dedicated fanbase. The son of iconic R&B bandleader Johnny Otis, Shuggie began playing guitar at age 2 and was featured in his father's band at 12; he often wore disguises to mask his age in order to play in adult clubs. At 15, he guested on Al Kooper's second Super Session album, recorded two albums with his father's revue (Cold Shot and Snatch & the Poontangs), played bass on one of Frank Zappa's most recognizable songs, "Peaches En Regalia" and released his first solo album, Here Comes Shuggie Otis. At 18, Shuggie dropped his sophomore album, Freedom Flight, which featured the hit "Strawberry Letter 23," later a million selling smash for the Brothers Johnson. After three years of work, Shuggie released his masterpiece, Inspiration Information, to general indifference, and because of his reputation as a perfectionist, he was released from his Epic contract and, disillusioned, he retreated from music, playing only on sessions for his father. Inspiration Information ultimately became a cult favorite, with vocal fans like Lenny Kravitz, Prince and David Byrne, who rereleased it on his Luaka Bop label in 2001. Earlier this year, Sony unleashed the magnificent Inspiration/Information, a double disc featuring the original album and a second disc, Wings of Love, comprised of unreleased work from 1975 to the present. Shuggie and his newly formed band have been touring since last fall and generating wildly enthusiastic reviews at every stop; if there is an absolute don't-miss show at this year's MidPoint, it is most certainly Shuggie Otis' set.
YDIIYD: Blues with a dash of magic, Pop with a touch of divinity, Rock with a heaping helping of genius. (BB)