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Shuggie Otis' Renaissance Comes To Lincoln Hall

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 15, 2012 8:20PM

2012_11_15_otis_small.jpg Before Prince was Prince, there was Shuggie Otis. The son of legendary bandleader Johnny Otis was a musical prodigy—a gifted multi-instrumentalist who was playing in his father’s big band by the age of 13. Otis’ 1971 album Freedom Flight and his 1974 follow-up, Inspiration Information, a chill collection of songs influenced by blues, prog and psychedelia that was so far ahead of its time its commercial failure made Otis’ decision to drop out of the music business for over a decade easier. A few years later The Brothers Johnson had a hit with the Otis-penned “Strawberry Letter 23” from Freedom Flight, but record labels didn’t want to sign the author of a platinum-selling single.

It wasn’t until 2001 that Inspiration Information received the recognition it deserved, thanks to a beautiful reissue on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop album. In the liner notes, Sean O’Hagan of The High Llamas wrote “this is an album that I play for people, and it always gets an extraordinary reaction.” From personal experience, truer words have never been spoken. Inspiration Information is on our desert island discs list.

Otis has managed to parlay the recognition from the Inspiration reissue into a successful mid-career renaissance where he’s focused on his true love—the blues. He doesn’t tour often, but when he does, Otis is worth checking out. This is cause to give you plenty of advance notice of his April 17, 2013 show at Lincoln Hall. Tickets go onsale at noon, Nov. 16 on the Lincoln Hall website.