By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
"I was very depressed during the making of that album. I started out happy in '72 when I started cutting the tracks, but when I started getting into it, my personal life started to get really dark," Otis says, looking down. "I got through that album, let's just put it that way. I was determined."
He still is. Lesser men give up the ghost, get a job or self-destruct. Shuggie Otis survived, even if he bears some scars and eccentricities. Preternaturally gifted, when he was dropped from his label he trusted the divinity of his talent. He rejected sideman offers from The Rolling Stones, Spirit and Blood Sweat & Tears, because he assumed a label with money eventually would swoop in and re-anoint him. And that's exactly what happened. Kind of.
Otis became an indieground legend with David Byrne's Luaka Bop reissue of Inspiration Information in 2001; this latest Epic iteration figures to introduce him to the Spotify set. His new disc of songs is suffused with enough flashes of genius to further burnish the legacy, and a world tour is planned for this spring. But even if his comeback disintegrates tomorrow, Otis insists that he'll never stop making music.
"I always wanted another record deal. I never ran from the music," he says, making rare square eye contact. "Rolling Stone magazine said I retired at 22. That pissed me off when I read that. I couldn't believe it. I said, 'Who is writing this and why?' Is it my fault that I retired because I can't get a record deal? I will never retire. Put that down. I'm never retiring. I'm a musician, and musicians can't retire."
Shuggie Otis performs 4/27 at the El Rey
The initial version of this story referred incorrectly to Shuggie Otis' marital status. His wife, Lillian, passed away; he is a widower. We regret the error.
So stoked to see this legend has returned. I found a whole video about his upcoming projects at http://smarturl.it/Inspiration_Wings and now cannot wait to get my hands on it!
"We had a rainy day...it was a snake back situation...Here's a pencil pad...I got to share some information." (way better than Zoloft)
"Inspiration Information" is one of the most played songs on my iPod...and when the beautiful-but-evil troll master I call my ex-girlfriend broke my heart, it was this jammy jam I turned to whenever I needed to smile. It's the most underrated jam of the 1970s.