Shuggie Otis spent virtually his entire young life playing in and around the various Johnny Otis bands which introduced such R&B legends as Big Jay McNeely, Wynonie Harris, Charles Brown, and Little Esther Phillips. Shuggie was finally "discovered" by Al Kooper during his stint as a Columbia Records A&R staff producer starting in the late-'60s. Kooper's second Super Session LP, Kooper Session: Al Kooper with Shuggie Otis (early 1970) essentially introduced Shuggie, the guitarist on all seven tracks, who was a 15-year old wunderkind when he recorded the album.
He was a year older when he recorded Here Comes Shuggie Otis (late 1970) for Epic, his first official LP under his own name, produced by Johnny Otis and featuring the cream of L.A. jazz session players. Freedom Flight (1971), again produced by Johnny Otis, was Shuggie's second solo LP in two years, and is the source for "Strawberry Letter 23," a No. 5 Pop hit for the Brothers Johnson in 1977.
Shuggie was just 21 when his third and final album, Inspiration Information, was issued at the end of 1974. Widely regarded as a masterpiece, songs from the long out-of-print LP have been sampled on the likes of OutKast's "Ms. Jackson," Beyonce's "Gift From Virgo" and Digable Planets' "For Corners." Guardian ranks the album alongside such late-'60s/early-'70s breakthroughs by black artists as Love's Forever Changes, the Jimi Hendrix Experience's Axis Bold As Love, Sly & the Family Stone's There's A Riot Going On, and Stevie Wonder's Innervisions.