Shuggie Otis

Shuggie Otis was born this day, November 30, in 1953.

Even for a child of the legendary Johnny Otis, Shuggie (legally, John Jr.) was a true prodigy, a versatile multi-instrumentalist like his father, at sixteen, he played bass on Frank Zappa’s ‘Peaches and Regalia’, he is best known for his guitar playing.

Shuggie was playing “professionally” with his father’s band before he was in his teens and made his recording debut at the age of fourteen on the LP “Cold Shot by The Johnny Otis Show” (recorded in 1967, released in 1968)

At fifteen, he was signed (with court approval) to CBS Records at the urging of John Hammond Sr.

His first LP for the label, was “Kooper Session – Al Kooper Introduces Shuggie Otis”

The following year saw the release of “Here Comes Shuggie Otis” produced by his father.

Otis’s second LP to be released that year was “Freedom Flight”  which he not only produced (alongside his father) but also arranged and played almost all of the instruments.  Moving beyond straight blues it shows the influence of Arthur Lee and Jimi Hendrix without ever sounding like them.

It was three years before a follow-up was released.  Even more inward looking than its predecessor, “Inspiration Information” did not find an audience at the time of its release but “rediscovered” and reissued in 2001, it has become something of a cult classic.

Otis faded from the music scene not long after “Inspiration Information”, unable to find a label to record him and if his star only shone for a brief time, it was bright enough for those who know where to look to still see its light fifty-years later.

Goin’ Back to L.A.

Bury My Body

Peaches and regalia

Frank Zappa & Shuggie Otis (1970)

Untitled Jam (Frankie & Shuggie)

Gospel Groove

Cold Shot

Freedom Flight


1 Comment

  • comment-avatar
    Chris Conklin November 30, 2018 (8:25 pm)

    Awesome blog! Definitely need to look into his music further. And – he’s back on the scene – played here in the Philly area recently, and the public radio music station (XPN) was playing him regularly. Thanks as always for all the cool info – it’s gratifying to discover real music from the past rather than sifting through the mountains of derivative drivel that passes for “new” music these days…