Strawberry Letter 23

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"Strawberry Letter 23"
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
Writer(s) Shuggie Otis
Producer(s) Quincy Jones
The Brothers Johnson singles chronology
"Runnin' for Your Lovin'"
"Strawberry Letter 23"
"Ain't We Funkin' Now"

"Strawberry Letter 23" is a song written and composed by Shuggie Otis, and best known by the version recorded by The Brothers Johnson, which Quincy Jones produced. Otis recorded it for his 1971 album Freedom Flight.


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. 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.


Pitchfork chose the Brothers Johnson version as the 134th best song of the 1970s.[2]

Soundtrack appearances[edit]


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


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[edit]

"Strawberry Letter 23"
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.
Producer(s) Quincy Jones
Tevin Campbell singles chronology
"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.[3] 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[edit]

US Promo CD

  1. Strawberry Letter 22 (Album Edit w/o Rap) 3:48
  2. Strawberry Letter 22 (Album Version) 4:07
  3. Strawberry Letter 22 (Single Remix w/Rap) 4:15
  4. Strawberry Letter 22 (Single Remix w/o Rap) 3:35

US Maxi-CD

  1. Strawberry Letter 22 (QDIII Mix Without Rap) 3:45
  2. Strawberry Letter 22 (QDIII Mix With Rap) 4:12
  3. Strawberry Letter 22 (QDIII Fat Choice Mix) 4:48
  4. Strawberry Letter 22 (Album Edit Without Rap) 3:24
  5. Strawberry Letter 22 (Soul Mix With Rap) 4:15
  6. Strawberry Letter 22 (T.C.'s Choice) 4:04
  7. Strawberry Letter 22 (Soul Mix Without Rap) 3:35
  8. Strawberry Letter 22 (Club Mix) 6:28
  9. Strawberry Letter 22 (Club Dub) 5:58
  10. Strawberry Letter 22 (Naughty Beats) 4:42

Chart positions[edit]

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

Other covers[edit]

  • 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.


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 80. 
  2. ^ "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s - Page 4 | Pitchfork". Retrieved 2016-09-03. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 99. 
Preceded by
"Slide" by Slave
Billboard's Hot Soul Singles number one single (The Brothers Johnson version)
August 6, 1977
Succeeded by
"Float On" by The Floaters