Shuggie_Otis_by_Sachyn_MitalStrawberry Letter 23 was a song best known by the version recorded by The Brothers Johnson, which Quincy Jones produced.   But who wrote it?

It was written and composed by Shuggie Otis born Johnny Alexander Veliotes, Jr. November 30, 1953 in Los Angeles, California, to Johnny Otis a rhythm and blues pioneer, musician, bandleader, and impresario and wife Phyllis.

Shuggie Otis 666666

Otis began playing guitar when he was two years old and performing professionally with his father’s band at the age of twelve, often disguising himself with dark glasses and a false mustache so that he could play with his father’s band in after-hours nightclubs.

Shuggie Otis tttttt

It is said that Otis wrote Strawberry Letter 23 for a girlfriend who used strawberry-scented paper when she wrote letters to him, but Otis himself says that this is not true. He recorded it for his 1971 album Freedom Flight the album Otis received the most notoriety.

otis 44 Brothers Johnson

Both the album and single reached the Billboard Top 200 and the Billboard Hot 100, respectively and caught the attention of Brothers Johnson guitarist George Johnson, who then played it for producer Quincy Jones.

George Johnson, of the Brothers Johnson, was dating one of Otis’s cousins when he came across the album Freedom Flight. The group recorded “Strawberry Letter 23” for their 1977 album Right on Time, which was produced by Quincy Jones, and the album went platinum.

strawberry23

They recorded the song in a funkier, more dance-oriented vein than the original Otis version. Their rendition hit the Hot 100 and peaked at number five and reached number one on the Soul Singles chart in 1977. Studio guitar player Lee Ritenour recreated Otis’s original guitar solo for the Brothers Johnson cover.

The 12″ single was pressed on red strawberry-scented vinyl.

 

Strawberry Letter 23 Song Lyrics


Hello, my love
I heard a kiss from you
Red magic satin playing near, too

All through the morning rain
I gaze – the sun doesn’t shine –
Rainbows and waterfalls run through my mind

In the garden – I see west
Purple shower, bells and tea
Orange birds and river cousins dressed in green

Pretty music I hear – so happy
And loud – blue flower echo
From a cherry cloud

Feel sunshine sparkle pink and blue
Playgrounds will laugh
if you try to ask
Is it cool?, is it cool?

If you arrive and don’t see me
I’m going to be with my baby
I am free – flying in her arms, over the sea

Stained window, yellow candy screen
See speakers of kite – with velvet roses diggin’ freedom flight

A present from you – Strawberry letter 22
The music plays, I sit in for a few

Ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…

A present from you – Strawberry letter 22
The music plays, I sit in for a few

Ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…


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