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‘Strawberry Letter #23′ by the Brothers Johnson – Classic Hit or Miss

The Song written by Shuggie Otis, although known most prominently by the version recorded by The Brothers Johnson.

George Johnson of Brothers Johnson was dating one of Otis’ cousins when he came across Freedom Flight, Otis’ 1972 album that featured the song. The group later recorded it for their 1977 album Right On Time, under the legendary producer Quincy Jones, and the album went platinum. “Strawberry Letter 23″, as recorded by The Brothers Johnson in a funkier, more dance-oriented vein than the original Otis version, hit the Hot 100 and peaked at number five and reached number one on the Soul Singles chart in 1977. The famous guitar solo in this song was originally recorded by Shuggie Otis. Studio guitar player Lee Ritenour later recreated Shuggie Otis’ original solo for The Brothers Johnson 1977 album.

An instrumental version was done by Phil Upchurch around the same time as the Brothers Johnson version, which is a more upbeat funky version. The short-lived R&B duo Kiara included a cover version of the song on its 1988 album To Change And/Or Make a Difference, which peaked at #23 on the Billboard R&B Albums chart. The song was also covered by Tevin Campbell on his debut release, T.E.V.I.N. in 1992 and hit #40 on the Billboard R&B charts, it’s a new jack swing version of the song, a sound very popular at that time. Digital Underground also did a hiphop version in the early 1990.

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