Shuggie Otis: The Time Machine


The Time Machine


Shuggie Otis (guitar)


The Johnny Otis Show (Epic / Legacy 53628)

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Shuggie Otis (guitar),

Jim “Supe” Bradshaw (harmonica)


Composed by Shuggie Otis


Recorded: Monterey Jazz Festival, Monterey, 1970


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

He turned down a chance to join the Rolling Stones, and now lives happily amidst the apple orchards of Sebastopol, California. Who can figure out Shuggie Otis? He was one of the great prodigies of the guitar, and started making waves almost from the moment of his professional debut at age 12—sometimes wearing a false mustache and dark glasses to convince club owners that he was old enough to gig. This track, recorded when Shuggie was 17, shows what a monster he was on the guitar before he was old enough to vote. But he could also play keyboard, bass, drums, sing or write a hit tune (the Brothers Johnson took his "Strawberry Letter 23" to the top of the R&B charts) if the occasion warranted. This song is aptly named: given a feature number during a Monterey Jazz Festival program headed by his father (R&B great Johnny Otis), the young Shuggie dishes out some old school slide guitar that is drenched with soulfulness. You feel you are listening to a master, but it's just a teenage boy. You can pinpoint many successes in Shuggie Otis's career, yet I can't help feeling that this ridiculously talented artist only gave us a small glimpse of what he might have been.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia


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