It was truly an honor to interview Shuggie Otis this past Saturday at KPFK. In the early 1970s, Otis recorded three very different, but all equally fantastic, solo records before seemingly disappearing until a reissue of Inspiration Information by David Byrne’s Luaka Bop records brought him back into the public eye. Though I had known about Shuggie’s music prior to hearing that reissue, like a whole lot of people hearing that set was a revelation. Inspiration Information is the rare legendary record that actually deserves every single piece of acclaim it has gotten and then some. Recently Sony Legacy has reissued “Inspiration” along with close to 20 previously unreleased tracks that Shuggie recorded from the 1970s up until 2000. Shuggie has stepped back out into the public eye again and this time around it seems he’s here to stay. In our interview we talk a little about the influence of growing up as the son of Johnny Otis, some of his favorite guitar players, the stories behind some of his classic songs, including “Strawberry Letter 23,” “Inspiration Information” and “Island Letter.” We also discuss how Shuggie’s apparent absence from music was never really an absence (something KPFK and KPFA listeners already knew) and how he’s excited for the next chapter of his career to begin. Big thanks to Andrew Cahn & Eric Molk for helping to set up the interview and of course to Shuggie Otis himself for blessing us with all of this beautiful music. Enjoy!
Here’s an short documentary on the Inspiration Information/Wings Of Love project that features Shuggie talking about multiple tracks from the album, getting into even more depth than we were able to in our interview. Hopefully this is just the first step towards the full-length documentary that Shuggie so richly deserves: