Shuggie Otis (born in 1953) is an American rock, blues, and funk guitarist and songwriter. He is the son of rhythm and blues musician, bandleader, and impresario Johnny Otis. One source gives his birth name as Johnny Otis Jr., but since his father used his own birth name of John Veliotes when he ran for the California Assembly in the 1960s, Shuggie's family name at birth was probably Veliotes.
Shuggie Otis began performing professionally at the age of 12, often disguising himself with dark glasses and a false moustache so that he could play in nightclubs. He released his first solo album in 1970. The Brothers Johnson's version of his composition "Strawberry Letter 23" reached #1 in the Billboard rhythm and blues chart and #5 in the Billboard pop chart in 1977.
He also plays piano, organ, and bass. He has recorded with Frank Zappa, Al Kooper, Etta James, and Eddie Vinson, and more recently Mos Def.
Shuggie's albums include: Here Comes Shuggie Otis, Freedom Flight and Inspiration Information. David Byrne recently re-released Inspiration Information, including some bonus tracks from "Freedom Flight", on his Luaka Bop record label.
Shuggie's style was groundbreaking. The fact that he was so ahead of his time could be evidenced by the mainstream largely ignoring his genius at the time he recorded his albums. An extraordinary guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, he melds classic blues, oozing funk, orchestral movements, and a hint of pop sensibility into a special 1970's psychedelic California soul. It is rumored that he was offered guitar duties in the Rolling Stones but declined. Here comes Shuggie Otis, Inspiration Information and Freedom Flight are essential listening for the blues and soul fan, they serve as a decent summation of a young, incredibly gifted, yet largely unrecognized blues and soul pioneer.
He continues to record sporadically.