Song:Strawberry Letter 23
Album:20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best Of Brothers Johnson
Strawberry Letter 23 was the biggest hit for The Brothers Johnson in 1977. They had a good run in the late 70s and both guys are well known songwriters and session musicians. Guitarist George Johnson was known as Lightnin' Licks and bassist Louis Johnson was known as Thunder Thumbs. They grew up in Los Angeles and had the band Johnson Three Plus one in high school with older brother Tommy Johnson and guitarist Alex Weir. Weir was a member of Talking Heads in the 80s. George and Louis became backup musicians and were in Billy Preston's band for a couple of years. Then Quincy Jones found them and used them on his 1975 album Mellow Madness. This led to a contract with A & M Records. Jones produced their 1976 debut album Look Out For #1 and I'll Be Good to You topped the R & B chart and reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. That song was also a hit when Quincy Jones, Ray Charles and Chaka Khan covered it in 1989. Strawberry Letter 23 is from the 1977 album Right on Time. It topped the R & B chart and reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. It's probably their most memorable song and the only song on the album not written by The Brothers Johnson. Strawberry Letter 23 was written by Shuggie Otis and he recorded it on his 1971 album Freedom Flight. That's where George heard it. You may have heard the song in the Quentin Tarantino film Jackie Brown and it is frequently sampled by hip hop guys. The Brothers Johnson's other big hit was Stomp! in 1979. You can get all their hits on this budget comp. They had faded by the early 80s and both guys have been session musicians ever since. Louis Johnson played on Michael Jackson's Thriller and has occasionally recorded solo. George Johnson recorded a solo album that was never released and has worked quite a bit with Steve Arrington of Slave. They have reunited and toured occasionally, most recently in 2006. Here's The Brothers Johnson performing Strawberry Letter 23 on The Midnight Special 1977.