So whatever did happen to Shuggie Otis?

With all the media coverage this week on the death of Johnny Otis, it got me to thinkin’. What ever did happen to Shuggie Otis, Johnny’s highly talented guitar playing son?

At the turn of the 1970s, Shuggie, a multi talented musician was touted and being the next big thing. He had played in his father’s band, The Johnny Otis Show, appearing on ‘Cold Shot’ – a fine album issued on Kent in 1969. He played on Zappa’s ‘Hot Rats’ album; played on Johnny Otis’s x-rated ‘Snatch And The Poontangs’ album and played on Johnny’s ‘Cuttin’ Up’ album issued in 1970 on Epic.

Shuggie cut his fine debut album for Epic – ‘Here Comes Shuggie’ in 1969 with an array of session musicians and he played some fine blues guitar. His second album ‘Freedom Flight’ contained the much vaunted ‘Stawberry Letter 23’ for Epic. A third Epic album ‘Inspiration Information’ appeared in 1974 – which he had taken three years to complete, resulting in his Epic contract being nixed.

Rumours abounded that he had been asked to join the Rolling Stones on tour – but Shuggie turned the chance down. Although he played on his fathers albums, he disappeared from view.

When I tried to track Shuggie down in the 1980s, a fellow UK blues fan told me that Shuggie had played (or was listed to play) at a open air blues show in Birmingham UK  for promoter Jim Simpson of Big Bear. US friends on the West Coast reported that Shuggie was somewhat of a ‘troubled soul’ despite his talents. Somebody also told me he had been seen working at a fast food joint.

According to the Beat Bungalow web site Shuggie was reportedly living on a farm (perhaps his father’s place?). What’s he doing nowadays? There’s a short  video of Shuggie in which he looks a little shaky. Recently, Shuggie was reportedly claiming  his long awaited fourth album (as yet untitled) will be released sometime in 2012 on his own label. It is rumored to feature all original compositions written from 1975 to the present, including live material from some of his rare performances.

We shall see. In the meantime Sony have just issued Shuggie’s three Epic albums in its ‘Original Album Classics’ as a 3CD mini box set each in 5 inch card repro sleeves which is worth checking out.

If you have heard recent any news on Shuggie Otis please let us know.

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