One of the most popular and critically acclaimed soul vocalist, songwriter and musician representatives of the R&B style known as Southern soul. Legendary musician Otis Redding (known as the "King of the Soul Singers") is generally regarded as the single most influential male soul artist of the 1960s. He was one of the first artists to broaden his appeal to white audiences with a raw, spontaneous style that bore a stark contrast to the smooth, sophisticated music of Motown. Otis Redding, Jr. was born on Sept. 9, 1941 in Dawson, Georgia, the son of a Baptist minister. He grew up in poverty in the Tindall Heights housing projects of Macon, Georgia, where he started singing in the church choir of Vineville Baptist Church. Redding later attended Ballad Hudson High School and participated in the band. He dropped out of high school in the tenth grade, determined to help his family financially. Redding went to work with Little Richard's former band, the Upsetters, serving as both chauffeur and vocalist as the group played the fraternity-house circuit. He also began to compete in local talent shows for the $5 prize, winning 15 straight times. Redding was discovered while singing with Macon guitarist Johnny Jenkins band, the Pine Toppers, and first recorded as a member of that group for the tiny Confederate label in 1960.
He later married Zelma Atwood in Aug. of 1961 and they had three children and one that would later be adopted after his death. In Oct. of 1962, Jenkins and the group were booked to cut some sides at Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee. Redding was invited at the end session to make his first solo album "These Arms of Mine." The album became the first of a series of soul ballads by Redding. After years of ambition and drive, his sacrifices had paid off. During the mid-1960s, Redding toured the United States playing numerous one-night engagements in theatres such as the Apollo in Harlem, New York.
He also toured Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean. Redding's concert tours were among the biggest box office successes of any touring performer during this time. Ironically, although he consistently impacted the R&B charts beginning with the Top Ten appearance of "Mr. Pitiful" in 1965, none of Redding's singles fared better than #21 on the pop Top Forty. In 1965, he moved his family into a spacious 300 acre property, in Round Oak, Georgia he called "The Big O Ranch". Sept. of that same year saw the release of Redding's Otis Blue/ Otis Redding Swings Soul which was recorded in 24 hours and features the classic "Respect" as well as the celebrated soul ballads, "I've Been Loving Yoo Too Long," and "A Change is Gonna Come." The song that many consider Redding's greatest, "Try A Little Tenderness," was later recorded in 1967.
Otis Redding had acquired his own plane to make touring less hectic, but the twin-engine Beechcraft H18 would prove his fatal undoing. At around 3:30 p.m. on a foggy Sunday afternoon, December 10, 1967, the plane, which encountered a storm en route from Cleveland to a concert in Madison, plunged into the frigid depths of Lake Monona. Redding, 26, and four members of his Bar-Kays band were killed. The musicians were headed to The Factory nightclub, scheduled to perform at 6:30 p.m. The crash killed six others, everyone on board except for trumpeter Ben Cauley (bassist James Alexander had luckily avoided the flight altogether). On the cusp of achieving pop superstardom, Redding, best known for his hit, “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay,” recorded just three days earlier and released after his death, was dead. The tune was Otis’ first posthumous release and his biggest-selling single ever, topping both the R&B and pop charts on its way to going gold. It also gained Otis two Grammy Awards. Engineers tastefully overdubbed the sound effects, the mournful cries of seagulls, the singer’s lonesome whistling, after Otis’ death.
About 4,500 mourners crowded Macon's City Auditorium for Redding's funeral a week later. He was buried on the grounds of his family estate. Redding has received several other honors since his death, including induction into the The Rock & Roll hall of Fame in 1989, The Georgia Music Hall of Fame, the naming of a bridge in Macon after Redding and the United States Postal Service issuing a commemorative stamp! in his honor on June 16, 1993. In 1992, a release of the CD "The Very Best of Otis Redding was issued and soon went gold after selling more than 500,00 copies. Who knows where Otis Redding's career path might have taken him. All we know is that the world lost a musical legend whose classics live on.
Otis Redding, we honors your contribution