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Strawberry Letter 23

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Strawberry Letter 23"
Strawberry Letter 23 - Brothers Johnson.jpg
Single by The Brothers Johnson
from the album Right on Time
B-side "Dancin' and Prancin'"
Released July 12, 1977
Format 7", 12"
Genre Psychedelic soul, funk
Length 3:39 (single edit)
4:59 (album version)
5:04 (12" single version)
Label A&M
Songwriter(s) Shuggie Otis
Producer(s) Quincy Jones
The Brothers Johnson singles chronology
"Runnin' for Your Lovin'"
"Strawberry Letter 23"
"Ain't We Funkin' Now"
"Runnin' for Your Lovin'"
"Strawberry Letter 23"
"Ain't We Funkin' Now"

"Strawberry Letter 23" is a 1971 song written and composed by Shuggie Otis from his album Freedom Flight. It is best known by the 1977 cover version recorded by The Brothers Johnson and produced by Quincy Jones.


George Johnson, of the Brothers Johnson, was dating one of Otis's cousins when he came across the 1971 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. They recorded the song in a funkier, more dance-oriented vein than the original Otis version. Their rendition hit the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at number five and reached number one on the Soul Singles chart in 1977.[1] 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. The song's chorus says "Strawberry Letter 22" instead of the titular song mentioned above.

Chart performance


Pitchfork chose the Brothers Johnson version as the 134th best song of the 1970s.[9]

Soundtrack appearances


The track, specifically its main melody, has been used many times in music sampling.

  • Silk's "Baby It's You," from their 1992 debut album Lose Control, sampled the song's backing track.
  • DJ Quik uses a sample from the Brothers Johnson version in his song "Safe & Sound" off the same title track album in 1995.
  • The St. Lunatics also sampled this song heavily on their first independently released 1996 single "Gimme What U Got."
  • The song is sampled in Messy Marv's & Mitchy Slick's track On The One featuring Yukmouth off their 2007 album Messy Slick.
  • It was sampled in 2012 by singer Xavier Naidoo and rapper Kool Savas for the track "X.A.V.A.S".
  • Negativland also sampled it in "White Rabbit and a Dog Named Gidget" from their album The Perfect Cut.
  • In Girl Talk's "Oh No" for the album All Day.
  • The guitar solo is sampled in Justice's track called "Canon" from 2012.
  • Das EFX sampled the song in their song "Whut Goes Around."
  • The song is mentioned in the lyrics of "St. Exquisite's Confessions" by Of Montreal on the album Skeletal Lamping.
  • The song is mentioned in the lyrics of "Too Many Rappers," by Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys.


Parts of the song, especially the distinctive, rhythmic melody of the song's verse, have also been imitated or interpolated in other songs:

Tevin Campbell version

"Strawberry Letter 23"
Strawberry Letter 23.jpg
Single by Tevin Campbell
from the album T.E.V.I.N.
Released May 14, 1992
Format CD single, Cassette single
Recorded 1991
Genre R&B, new jack swing
Length 4:07
Label Qwest/Warner Bros.
Songwriter(s) Shuggie Otis
Producer(s) Quincy Jones
Tevin Campbell singles chronology
"Strawberry Letter 23"
"Alone with You"
"Strawberry Letter 23"
"Alone with You"

"Strawberry Letter 23" is the fifth single from R&B singer Tevin Campbell's debut studio album T.E.V.I.N.. It peaked at #53 on the Hot 100 and #40 on the R&B charts.[10] The Tevin Campbell version is more up-tempo, with a new jack swing beat, and includes a rap that mentions "the letter 23."

Track Listings

US Promo CD

  1. Strawberry Letter 23 (Album Edit w/o Rap) 3:48
  2. Strawberry Letter 23 (Album Version) 4:07
  3. Strawberry Letter 23 (Single Remix w/Rap) 4:15
  4. Strawberry Letter 23 (Single Remix w/o Rap) 3:35

US Maxi-CD

  1. Strawberry Letter 23 (QDIII Mix Without Rap) 3:45
  2. Strawberry Letter 23 (QDIII Mix With Rap) 4:12
  3. Strawberry Letter 23 (QDIII Fat Choice Mix) 4:48
  4. Strawberry Letter 23 (Album Edit Without Rap) 3:24
  5. Strawberry Letter 23 (Soul Mix With Rap) 4:15
  6. Strawberry Letter 23 (T.C.'s Choice) 4:04
  7. Strawberry Letter 23 (Soul Mix Without Rap) 3:35
  8. Strawberry Letter 23 (Club Mix) 6:28
  9. Strawberry Letter 23 (Club Dub) 5:58
  10. Strawberry Letter 23 (Naughty Beats) 4:42

Chart positions

Chart (1992) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B Singles 40
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 53

Other covers

  • 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.
  • Digital Underground did a hip hop version in the early 1990s.
  • Quincy Jones, who produced the Brothers Johnson's version, covered the song himself, with singer Akon, on the album Q: Soul Bossa Nostra (2010).
  • Saxophonist Jessy J covered the song on her album My One and Only One (2015).
  • Malaysian singer Yuna recorded the song for a commercial for Swedish fashion retailer H&M starring Ukrainian-Canadian model Daria Werbowy that aired in March 2015.
  • In June 2015, Faith No More covered a large portion of the song during an interlude during "Midlife Crisis" at the Pinkpop festival and also at Download Festival.
  • On July 22, 2017, Phish covered the song during its "Baker's Dozen[11]" run of shows at Madison Square Garden[12], during the "Strawberry" themed night of that run.


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 80. 
  2. ^ David Kent's "Australian Chart Book 1970-1992"
  3. ^
  4. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 35. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s - Page 4 | Pitchfork". Retrieved 2016-09-03. 
  10. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 99. 
  11. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
This page was last edited on 23 June 2018, at 06:59
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