Otis Redding

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Otis Redding
Background information
Birth nameOtis Ray Redding, Jr.
Also known asThe Big O[1]
The Mad Man from Macon[1]
Rockhouse Redding[2]
The King of Soul
Born(1941-09-09)September 9, 1941
Dawson, Georgia, U.S.
DiedDecember 10, 1967(1967-12-10) (aged 26)
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
GenresSoul, Southern soul, soul blues, Memphis soul[3]
OccupationsSinger-songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, piano
Years active1960–1967
LabelsStax, Volt, Atco, Rhino, Sundazed
Associated actsThe Upsetters, The Bar-Kays, Carla Thomas
Websiteotisredding.com
 
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Otis Redding
Background information
Birth nameOtis Ray Redding, Jr.
Also known asThe Big O[1]
The Mad Man from Macon[1]
Rockhouse Redding[2]
The King of Soul
Born(1941-09-09)September 9, 1941
Dawson, Georgia, U.S.
DiedDecember 10, 1967(1967-12-10) (aged 26)
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
GenresSoul, Southern soul, soul blues, Memphis soul[3]
OccupationsSinger-songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, piano
Years active1960–1967
LabelsStax, Volt, Atco, Rhino, Sundazed
Associated actsThe Upsetters, The Bar-Kays, Carla Thomas
Websiteotisredding.com

Otis Ray Redding, Jr. (September 9, 1941 – December 10, 1967) was an American soul singer-songwriter, record producer, arranger, and talent scout. He is considered one of the major figures in soul music and rhythm and blues (R&B), and one of the greatest singers in popular music. His open-throated singing was an influence on other soul singers of the 1960s, and he helped to craft the lean and powerful style of R&B that formed the basis of the Stax Sound. After appearing at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, he wrote and recorded "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay", which became a number-one record on both the pop and R&B charts after his death in a plane crash.

Redding was born and raised in the American state of Georgia. At age 15, he left school to support his family by working with Little Richard's backing band, The Upsetters, and by playing talent shows for prize money. In 1958, he joined Johnny Jenkins's band, The Pinetoppers, and toured the Southern United States while serving as driver and musician. An unscheduled appearance on a session led to a turning point in his career. He signed a contract with Stax Records and released his debut album, Pain in My Heart, in 1964. This album produced his first Stax single, "These Arms of Mine".

Although Redding's initial popularity was with African Americans, he later became equally popular among the broader American public. He and his group first played small gigs in the South, then performed at the Whisky a Go Go nightclub, their first concert in the western United States. Internationally, Redding later performed in Paris and London among other venues. Redding's death was devastating for Stax, which was on the verge of bankruptcy. Later Stax discovered that Atlantic Records owned the rights to the entire catalog. Redding received many posthumous accolades, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Because of his influence on other artists, he received the honorific "King of Soul".

Contents

Early life

Redding was born in Dawson, Georgia to gospel singer Otis Redding, Sr., and housekeeper Fannie Redding. His father had worked as a sharecropper and then at Robins Air Force Base, on weekends sometimes as a part-time preacher. When Redding was three, the family moved to Tindall Heights, a predominantly African American public housing project in nearby Macon. For a short time they lived in a small house in Bellevue. When it burned down the family moved back to Tindall.[4] At an early age, he sang in the Vineville Baptist Church choir and learned guitar and piano. From the age of 10, he took drum and singing lessons. Later, at Ballard-Hudson High School, he sang in a school band. Every Sunday he earned US$6 by performing songs for Macon radio station WIBB.[5] His passion was singing and often cited Little Richard and Sam Cooke as major influences. Redding said, "If it hadn't been for Little Richard, I would not be here. I entered the music business because of Richard – he is my inspiration. I used to sing like Little Richard, his Rock 'n' Roll stuff, you know. Richard has soul, too. My present music has a lot of him in it."[6][7]

At age fifteen, Redding abandoned school to help his family financially. His father had contracted tuberculosis and was often hospitalized, leaving his mother as the primary financial provider for the family.[4] Redding worked as a well digger, gas station attendant and guest musician in the following years. Another inspiration for Redding was the pianist Gladdy Williams, a well-known Macon musician. She often performed at Hillview Springs Social Club, where Redding sometimes played piano. When she hosted talent shows on Sundays, Redding accompanied his friends from the neighborhood, such as Little Willie Jones and bassist Eddie Ross.[8] His breakthrough came when he played Little Richard's "Heebie Jeebies", winning a $5 contest fifteen weeks in a row, until being banned.[9] Redding was soon hired by Little Richard's band The Upsetters. He was well-paid at about $25 per gig,[4][5] but he did not stay for long.[10]

In 1958, Redding had the opportunity to compete on disc jockey Hamp Swain's "The Teenage Party", a music contest at the Roxy Theatre, then at the Douglass Theatre.[11] His backing band was not professional, so gig attendee Johnny Jenkins offered help. Jenkins later worked as lead guitarist and played with Redding on several gigs; with Jenkins' help, he won the contest every week.[12] Shortly afterwards, he was invited to replace Willie Jones, frontman of Pat T. Cake and the Mighty Panters, featuring Jenkins on guitar.[8] At the age of 19, Redding met 15-year-old Zelma Atwood at "The Teenage Party". She gave birth to Redding's son, Dexter, in the summer of 1960 and married Redding in August 1961.[13] In mid-1960, he moved to Los Angeles with his sister, Deborah, and wrote his first songs including "She's Allright", "Tuff Enuff", "I'm Gettin' Hip" and "Gamma Lamma", the first later released as a single.[5]

Career

Early career

As a member of the Pat T. Cake and the Mighty Panters, Redding toured in the Southern United States, especially on the Chitlin' circuit. These performance venues were safe for African-American musicians during the era of racial segregation which lasted into the early 1960s.[14][15] Jenkins left the band to become the featured artist with The Pinetoppers.[16] Around this time, Redding met Phil Walden, the future founder of the recording company Phil Walden and Associates (even though he had no associates),[17] and later Bobby Smith, who ran Confederate Records, a small label. He signed with Confederate and recorded his second single, "Shout Bamalama" (a rewrite of "Gamma Lamma"), together with his band Otis and the Shooters.[5][18] Wayne Cochran, the only solo artist signed to Confederate, became Pinetoppers' bass guitarist.[16]

Next, Redding wrote the song, "These Arms of Mine". At the same time, Walden started to look for a record label. Atlantic Records representative Joe Galkin was interested in working with Jenkins and around 1962 proposed to send him to a Stax studio in Memphis. On the way to a Pinetoppers studio session, Redding drove for Jenkins, as the latter did not have a driver's license.[19] Jenkins performed with Booker T. & the M.G.'s, and when the session ended early, Redding received the opportunity to perform two songs. The first was "Hey Hey Baby", but studio chief Jim Stewart thought it sounded too much like Little Richard. The second was "These Arms of Mine", featuring Jenkins on piano and Steve Cropper on guitar. Stewart later praised Redding's performance of the latter song and noted, "Everybody was fixin' to go home, but Joe Galkin insisted we give Otis a listen. There was something different about [the ballad]. He really poured his soul into it."[13][20] Stewart signed Redding for Stax and released "These Arms of Mine", with "Hey Hey Baby" on the B-side. The single was released on Volt on October 1962, but charted in March the following year.[21] It became one of his most successful songs, selling more than 800,000 copies.[22]

Apollo Theater and Otis Blue

"These Arms of Mine" and other songs from the 1962–1963 sessions were included on Redding's debut album, Pain in My Heart. "That's What My Heart Needs" and "Mary's Little Lamb" were recorded in June 1963, the latter became one of the worst-selling singles by Redding.[21] The title track, recorded on September, the next year, sparked some copyright issues, as it sounded like Irma Thomas' "Ruler of My Heart".[21] Despite this, Pain in My Heart was released on January 1, 1964 and peaked at number 20 on Billboard's R&B chart and at number 85 on Billboard's Hot 100.

In November 1963, Redding and his brother, Rodgers, accompanied former boxer Sylvester Huckaby to the Apollo Theater in New York to record a live album for Atlantic Records, entitled T'Ain't Nothin' To Me. They travelled in a 1963 Ford XL Cabriolet, first to Bluefield, West Virginia, then through Virginia, Maryland, and finally to New York. Redding and his band were paid $400 per week, but had to pay $450 to King Curtis' band for the sheets of notes. Subsequently, the trio returned to Phil Walden and requested money. The boxer explained in Peter Guralnick's Sweet Soul Music their living circumstances in the rundown Theresa Hotel. He also spoke about meeting with Muhammed Ali and other stars. Ben E. King, who performed with Redding at the Apollo, gave him $100 when he heard about his financial situation. The album that resulted from the concert featured soul musicians Ben E. King, The Coasters, Doris Troy, Rufus Thomas, The Falcons and Redding.[23]

The release of T'Ain't Nothin' To Me brought success to Redding and his band. Their tour car evolved from a plain wagon, to a van, to a minibus, and then a tour bus. Around this time, Phil Walden was drafted by the army, as was Redding's brother Rodgers; Walden's younger brother Alan joined Redding on his tours, while Earl "Speedo" Sims replaced Rodgers. The company, Phil Walden & Associates, grew to one of the most popular R&B booking agencies.[24]

After he released the song "Security", the majority of Redding's songs had a slow tempo, causing disc jockey Moohah Williams to label Otis Redding as "Mr. Pitiful".[25] Subsequently Cropper and Redding wrote a song with that name[13] and included it on Redding's second studio album, The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads, released in March 1965.[26] Jenkins began working independently from the group out of fear that Galkin, Walden, and Cropper might plagiarize his playing style during the sessions. It was previously suggested that he should back Redding during the time "These Arms of Mine" was on the charts.[27] Around 1965, Redding co-wrote the song "I've Been Loving You Too Long" with The Impressions lead singer Jerry Butler in a hotel near the Atlanta airport. That summer, Redding and the studio crew arranged new songs for his next album, and ten of the eleven songs were written in a 24-hour period during July 9–10 in Memphis. Two songs, "Ole Man Trouble" and "Respect", had been finished earlier. "Respect" and "I've Been Loving You" were later recut in stereo during the Otis Blue-session, with the remarkable change that on the first song the line "hey hey hey" was sung by Earl Sims and not by Redding, while the latter song was completely rewritten.[26] The album, entitled Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul, was released in September 1965.[28]

Whisky a Go Go and "Try a Little Tenderness"

Redding's success allowed him to buy a 300-acre (1.2 km2) ranch in Georgia, which he called the "Big O Ranch." After his death, the property was extended to a 460-acre (1.9 km2) area.[31] Stax was also doing well. Walden signed more and more musicians, including Percy Sledge, Johnnie Taylor, Clarence Carter and Eddie Floyd, and together with Redding they founded the production companies "Jotis Records" (derived from Joe Galkin and Otis), on which only four recordings were released, two by Arthur Conley and one by Billy Young and Loretta Williams, and Redwal Music (derived from Redding and Walden).[32] Their audience had been mostly black, but Stax fans like The Beatles encouraged Redding to perform for a large, white audience. They chose Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. Redding was one of the first soul artists to perform in the Western United States. His performance received critical acclaim, including positive press in Los Angeles Times, and pushed him further into the mainstream. Bob Dylan attended the performance and offered Redding an altered version of one of his songs, "Just Like a Woman",[13] but Redding did not record it, as he felt it contained "too much text".[33] Redding said that was the "biggest mistake" of his career, according to a private press release issued on September 8, 2011, for a special exhibit at the Stax Museum.[34]

In late 1966, Redding returned to the Stax studio. On this session he recorded tracks including "Try a Little Tenderness", originally written by Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly and Harry M. Woods in 1932.[29] Today it is often considered his signature song.[35] Jim Stewart said, "If there's one song, one performance that really sort of sums up Otis and what he's about, it's 'Try a Little Tenderness'. That one performance is so special and so unique that it expresses who he is. ... If you want to wrap it up, just listen to [it]." On this version Redding was backed by Booker T. & the MG's, and staff producer Isaac Hayes worked on the arrangement.[36][37] "Try a Little Tenderness" was included on his next album, Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul. The song and the album were critically and commercially successful—former peaked at number 25 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and at number 4 on R&B singles chart.[38]

The spring of 1966 marked the first time that Stax scheduled a series of gigs in a number of cities.[39] Walden and his crew did so as they intended to reach a wider audience. The majority of artists arrived in London, where R&B was popular thanks to artists like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles,[37] on March 13, but Redding had flown in days earlier because of multiple interviews and an appearance in "Eamonn Andrews Show". When the crew arrived in London, The Beatles sent their limousine near the airport to pick up the band.[39] Redding began touring Europe six months later.[40] Prior to that, booking agent Bill Graham proposed that Redding play at the Fillmore Theatre around the late 1966. The performance was commercially and critically successful,[37] prompting Graham to remark afterwards, "That was the best gig I ever put on in my entire life."[41]

Last studio album and Monterey

A year after the Fillmore, Redding released the studio album King & Queen, backed by Carla Thomas on vocals. The idea to produce a duet album was Jim Stewart's, as he thought it would progress their musical career, and that "[Redding's] rawness and [Thomas'] sophistication would work".[42] The album was recorded in January 1967, while Thomas was studying at Howard University in Washington D.C. where she earned her M.A. in English. Ten out of six songs were cut during their session; the rest was overdubbed by Redding in the days following, due to their concert obligations. Three singles were lifted from the album, "Tramp", the first cut song, was released as a single in April, "Knock on Wood", and "Lovey Dovey", all three peaking at least in the top 60 charts on both the R&B and Pop charts.[42] Redding and Thomas were awarded a gold plaque for this album Thomas recorded a solo-album, in Washington D.C. at the Bohemian Caverns, entitled The Queen Alone, but the album was never released.[43]

Redding returned to Europe to perform at the Paris Olympia. The album entitled Otis Redding: Live in Europe was released three months later featuring this performance. Other live performances were in London and Stockholm.[31] Redding was criticized for his arrogant and contrived performances in these last concerts. His controversial decision to take his protege Arthur Conley (whom Redding and Walden had contracted directly to Atco/Atlantic Records rather than to Stax/Volt) on the tour, instead of more established Stax/Volt artists such as Rufus Thomas and William Bell, received negative responses. Al Bell was active in the Stax reorganization, undertaking routine business and managing tours for Redding and others, the latter task formerly done by Estelle Axton, Stewart's sister. He was later hired as the new A&R head, replacing Steve Cropper, as the crew thought he would act superior.[37][44]

The place Redding wrote his song "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay", in the San Francisco Bay

In 1967, Redding performed at the influential Monterey Pop Festival as the closing act on Saturday night, the second day of the festival. He was included on the bill through the efforts of promoter Jerry Wexler, who saw the festival as an opportunity to advance Redding's career.[45] Until that point, Redding had performed mainly for black audiences.[46] Redding's act, well received by the audience, included his own song "Respect" and a version of the The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction".[47] Redding and his backing band (Booker T and the MGs with the Mar-Keys horn section) opened with Cooke's "Shake" before he delivered an impulsive speech in which he asked the audience if they were the "love crowd", looking for a big response. The ballad "I've Been Loving You" followed. The last song was "Try a Little Tenderness", with an additional chorus. With a last "I got to go, y'all, I don't wanna go", Redding left the stage. This would be his last major concert.[35] According to Sweet Soul Music, people such as Brian Jones and Jimi Hendrix were captivated by his performance; Robert Christgau wrote in Esquire, "The Love Crowd screamed one's mind to the heavens."[48]

After Monterey, Redding wanted to record with his close friend Arthur Conley, but Stax was against the idea. The two moved from Memphis to Macon to continue writing. The result was "Sweet Soul Music", based on Sam Cooke's "Yeah Man".[32] It peaked at number 2 on Billboard Hot 100.[49][50] By that time Redding had developed polyps on his larynx, which he tried to treat with tea and lemon or honey. He was hospitalized in September 1967 at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York to undergo surgery.[51]

In the winter of 1967, Redding again recorded at Stax. One new song was "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay", which was written by Cropper and Redding while they were staying with friend, Earl "Speedo" Sims, in a houseboat in Sausalito near San Francisco, California.[52] Redding was inspired by the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and tried to create a similar sound, against the label's wishes. It also met with dissatisfaction from his wife for its atypical melody. However, Redding wanted to change his musical style to avoid boring his audience. Meanwhile, the Stax crew were also dissatisfied with the new sound; Stewart thought that it was not R&B, while bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn thought the sound would damage Stax's reputation. However, Redding thought it was the best song he ever wrote and believed it would top the charts.[53] Redding whistled at the end, either forgetting Cropper's ending rap,[54] or paraphrasing it intentionally.[55]

Death

By 1967 the band had taken to traveling on Redding's Beechcraft H18 to gigs. They flew to Nashville, and on December 9, 1967, appeared on the nationally-syndicated Upbeat television show produced in Cleveland. They played three concerts in two nights at a small club called Leo's Casino.[50][56][57] After a phone call with his wife and children, Redding's next stop was in Madison, Wisconsin. On the next day they were to play at the "Factory" nightclub near the University of Wisconsin after the opening act "The Grim Reapers", precursor of Cheap Trick.[56][58]

Although the weather was poor, with heavy rain and fog, and Redding had been warned to postpone the flight, they did not stop their trip.[59] Four miles from their destination at Truax Field in Madison, the pilot radioed for permission to land. Shortly thereafter, the plane crashed into Lake Monona. Ben Cauley, one of The Bar-Kays and the accident's only survivor,[50] was sleeping shortly before the accident. He woke just before impact, and saw his bandmate Phalon Jones look out a window and exclaim, "Oh, no!" Cauley said the last thing he remembered before the crash was unbuckling his seat belt. He then found himself in frigid water, grasping a seat cushion to keep afloat.[51] The cause of the crash was never determined.[60] The only other Bar-Kays to survive were James Alexander and Carl Sims, who instead flew on a commercial flight for lack of room on the H18.[61] Andrew Love and Wayne Jackson of The Memphis Horns had earlier declined to take part in the tour.[50][62]

Redding died just three days after recording Dock of the Bay, on the third anniversary of Sam Cooke's death.[43][50] His unexpected death was a shock for friends and family. Aretha Franklin stated, "I heard it on the TV. My sister Caroline and I stopped everything and stayed glued to the TV and radio. It was a tragedy. Shocking."[63]

Redding's body was recovered the next day when the lake bed was searched.[64] Many musicians asked the family to postpone the funeral from December 15 to December 18 so that they could attend.[63] The service took place at the City Auditorium in Macon, attended by many prominent musicians. More than 4,500 people came to the obsequy, overflowing the 3,000-seat hall, although many did not know who he was. Johnny Jenkins did not come, fearing his reaction would be worse than Zelma Redding's.[65] Redding was entombed at his ranch in Round Oak, about 20 miles (32 km) north of Macon.[66] Jerry Wexler delivered the eulogy.[67] Redding was survived by his wife and three children, Otis III, Dexter and Karla.[68] In November 8, 1987, a memorial plaque was placed on the lakeside deck of the Madison convention center, Monona Terrace.[69]

Posthumous releases and proposed recordings

"(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" was released in January 1968 and became Redding's only number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, and the first posthumous number-one single in US chart history.[70] It sold approximately four million copies worldwide and received more than eight million airplays.[71][72] The album The Dock of the Bay was the first posthumous album to reach the top spot on the UK Albums Chart.[73]

Shortly after Redding's death, Atlantic Records, distributor of the Stax/Volt releases, was purchased by Warner Bros. Stax was required to renegotiate its distribution deal, and found that Atlantic actually owned the entire Stax/Volt catalog. Stax was unable to regain the rights to its recordings, and severed its relationship with Atlantic. Atlantic also held the rights to all unreleased Otis Redding masters.[74] It had enough material for three new studio albums—The Immortal Otis Redding (1968), Love Man (1969), and Tell the Truth (1970)—all issued on its Atco Records.[74] A number of successful singles emerged from these LPs, among them "Amen" (1968), "Hard to Handle" (1968), "I've Got Dreams to Remember" (1968), "Love Man" (1969), and "Look at That Girl" (1969).[74] Singles were also lifted from two live Atlantic-issued Redding albums, In Person at the Whisky a Go Go, recorded in 1966 and issued in 1968 on Atco, and Monterey International Pop Festival, a Reprise Records release featuring some of the live Monterey Pop Festival performances of The Jimi Hendrix Experience on side one and all of Redding's performances on side two.

In September 2007, the first official DVD anthology of Redding's live performances was released by Concord Music Group, then owners of the Stax catalog. Dreams To Remember: The Legacy of Otis Redding featured 16 full-length performances and 40 minutes of new interviews documenting his life and career.[75] On May 18, 2010, Stax Records released a two-disc recording of three complete sets that he played at the Whisky a Go Go in April 1966.[76]

Plans were made by Carla Thomas to record another duet album in December the same year, although Phil Walden disputed this claim. There was also a proposal by Redding to record an album featuring cut and rearranged songs in different tempo; for example, ballads would be uptempo and vice versa.[77] Another suggestion was to record an album entirely consisting of country standards.[78]

Songwriting

In his early career, Redding mostly covered songs from popular artists, such as Little Richard, Sam Cooke, or Solomon Burke. Around the mid-1960s he wrote his own songs—always taking along his cheap, red acoustic guitar—and sometimes asked for the Stax member's opinion of the lyric's quality. He often worked on lyrics with other musicians, such as Earl Sims, his brother Rodgers, Sylvester Huckaby, Phil Walden or Steve Cropper. During the time of regeneration, Redding wrote about 30 songs in a session lasting about two weeks.[79] Typical was his free improvisation during the song's end.[80] Most of lyrics of his songs were about love, leading to his nickname of "Mr. Pitiful". Redding was the sole copyright holder on all of his songs.[81]

In "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay" he abandoned the romantic themes and replaced them with "sad, wistful introspections, amplified by unforgettable descending guitar riffs by Cropper".[82] On the official website of the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, it was suggested that the song "was a kind of brooding, dark voicing of despair, ('I've got nothin' to live for/Look like nothin' gonna come my way')" as "his music, in general, was exultant and joyful". According to the journalist Ruth Rob, author of the liner notes for the 1993 box-set by Rhino Records, "It is currently a revisionist theory to equate soul with the darker side of man's musical expression, blues. That fanner of the flame of 'Trouble's got a hold on me' music, might well be the father of the form if it is, the glorified exaltation found in church on any Sunday morning is its mother." And further on the site declares that "glorified exaltation indeed was an apt description of Otis Redding's songwriting and singing style."[83] Booker T. Jones compared Redding with Leonard Bernstein stating, "He was the same type person. He was a leader. He'd just lead with his arms and his body and his fingers."[84]

Otis Redding favored short and simple lyrics over long and complicated; When asked whether he intended to cover Dylan's "Just Like a Woman", he responded that the lyrics were "too long".[33] Furthermore, he stated in an interview:

Basically, I like any music that remains simple and I feel this is the formula that makes 'soul music' successful. When any music form becomes cluttered and/or complicated you lose the average listener's ear. There is nothing more beautiful than a simple blues tune. There is beauty in simplicity whether you are talking about architecture, art or music.[85]

Beside the songwriting, Redding also arranged horn lines, always humming to show the horn section what notes he had in his mind. His horn arrangements were described by the blowers as complicated and difficult. The song "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)" reflects his habit to hum with the horn section.[86] Apart from songwriting, Redding served as a record producer, arranger, and talent scout.[87]

Personal life and wealth

Redding, who was 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall and weighed 220 pounds (100 kg), was an athletic family man who loved football and hunting.[79][88] He was described as vigorous, trustworthy,[33] naturally full of fun and vitality,[68] and as a true businessman. Biographer Peter Guralnick has said Redding would even have been respected by the Ku-Klux-Klan.[33] According to several people, Redding's personality was not fully matured neither on stage nor in public life. His brother Rodgers thought he was "confused", while Alan Walden described him as "naive". He was not only a musician, company founder, talent scout and record producer, but was also active in philanthropic projects. Through his keen interest for the Black youth he intended to build a summer camp for disadvantaged people from urban slums and ghettos.[85]

Redding was a very wealthy person. According to several advertising copies, he had around 200 suits, 400 pair of shoes, and he earned about $35,000 per week for his concerts.[89] For the "Big O Ranch" he spent about $125,000. As the owner of the Otis Redding Enterprises of Macon, he earned through performances, music publishing ventures and royalties from record sales more than a million dollars in 1967 alone.[63] One columnist said, "in one year ... he sold more records than Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin combined."[90]

Style

Redding appeared a little bit clumsy on stage, and he sometimes received advice from Rufus Thomas. Jerry Wexler said Redding "did not even know how to move", and "stood stock-still and moved only his upper body". However, Wexler later explained Redding was well received by the audience, as his delivered strong message was noticeable.[91] Author Peter Guralnick explains in Sweet Soul Music this painful vulnerability, which was attractive for the audience, but not for his friends and partners, as such a feeling was not known in Redding's self-assurance. His early shyness was well-known.[84] Redding was, however, known for his generally electrifying performances.[92] After the release of Otis Blue, Redding became a "catalogue" artist, meaning that his albums were not immediately million-sellers, but were rather sold continually over the years.[32]

Another characteristic was his raw voice and the ability to convey strong emotion. Richie Unterberger of Allmusic noted his "hoarse, gritty vocals, brassy arrangements, an emotional way with both party tunes and aching ballads."[93] In the book Rock and Roll: An Introduction, authors Michael Campbell and James Brody suggested that "Redding's singing calls to mind a fervent black preacher. Especially in up-tempo numbers, his singing is more than impassioned speech but less than singing with precise pitch."[94] According to the book, "Redding finds a rough midpoint between impassioned oratory and conventional singing. His delivery overflows with emotion" in his song "I Can't Turn You Loose".[94] Booker T. Jones, an American musician, described Otis' singing as energetic and emotional, but said that his vocal range was limited, including neither low nor high notes.[95] Peter Buckley of The Rough Guide To Rock describes his "gruff voice, which combined Sam Cooke's phrasing with a brawnier delivery" and later suggested he "could testify like a hell-bent preacher, croon like a tender lover or get down and dirty with a bluesy yawp".[87]

Legacy

Statue by Bradley Cooley in Gateway Park

Otis Redding has been called the "King of Soul",[96] an honorific title also given to James Brown[97] and Sam Cooke.[98][99][100] He remains one of the most recognized artists in soul music. His lean and powerful style exemplified the Stax Sound,[87][101][102] and gave Stax a new identity; he was sometimes said to be its "heart and soul",[103] while artists such as Al Jackson, Duck Dunn and Steve Cropper also helped to expand its structure.[102] His open-throated singing,[101] the tremolo/vibrato, the manic, electrifying stage performances,[92] and honesty were particular hallmarks, along with the use of interjections, for example "gotta, gotta, gotta", some of which came from Sam Cooke.[33][103] Producer Jim Stewart thought the "begging singing" was stress-induced and also caused by Redding's extreme, early shyness.[84] Early on he copied the singing style of Little Richard, one of his idols, but gradually developed his own style. He was primarily influenced by soul musicians such as Little Richard and Sam Cooke, whose live album Live at the Copa was a strong influence,[33] but later explored different genres that were popular during his time. He studied contemporary music of The Beatles, Bob Dylan. The influence of rock musicians such as Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, can be heard in songs like "Hard to Handle", which contains rock and roll elements.[104]

Artists from many genres named Redding as a musical influence. The Beatles were generally influenced by the soul music of Motown Records and Stax. Guitarist George Harrison called "Respect" an important influence for "Drive My Car".[105] The Rolling Stones also mentioned Redding an important influence.[106][107] Other artists who have acknowledged the influence of Redding are bands like Led Zeppelin,[108][109] The Grateful Dead,[110] Lynyrd Skynyrd,[111] The Doors;[110] and virtually every soul/R&B musicians from the early years, such as Al Green, Etta James,[31] William Bell,[110] Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Arthur Conley.[112] Several musicians from the late 20th century have covered or mixed his songs, perhaps the most notable being the Grammy Award-winning "Otis" by Kanye West and Jay-Z.[19][31] According to band colleague Sam Andrew, Janis Joplin was influenced by his singing style. She herself stated that she learned "to push a song instead of just sliding over it" after hearing Redding.[113]

Awards and honors

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where he was inducted in 1989, declared Redding's name to be "synonymous with the term soul, music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm and blues into a form of funky, secular testifying."[114] Readers of the British music newspaper Melody Maker voted him as the top vocalist of 1967, superseding Elvis Presley, who had topped the list for the prior 10 years.[71][112][115] In 1993, the U.S. Post Office issued an Otis Redding 29-cent commemorative postage stamp.[116] Redding was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994,[83] and in 1999 he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.[117] The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame listed three Redding recordings, "Shake", "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay", and "Try a Little Tenderness," among its list of "The 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll."[118] American music magazine Rolling Stone ranked Redding at number 21 on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time"[119] and number 8 on their list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time".[95] Q ranked Redding at number 4 on "100 Greatest Singers", after only Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley, respectively.[120]

Five of his albums, Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul, Dreams to Remember: The Otis Redding Anthology, The Dock of the Bay, Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul and Live in Europe, were ranked by Rolling Stone on their list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". The first album was singled out for praise by music critics; apart from the Rolling Stone listing at number 74, NME ranked it 35 on their list of the "Greatest Albums of All Time",[121] while Time listed it on their "100 Greatest Albums of All Time" list.[122] In 2002, the city of Macon honored its native son by unveiling a memorial statue in the city's Gateway Park. The park is next to the Otis Redding Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Ocmulgee River.[123] The Rhythm and Blues Foundation named Redding as the recipient of its 2006 Pioneer Award.[124] Billboard awarded Redding the "Otis Redding Excellence Award" the same year.[31] A year later he was inducted into the Hollywood's Rockwalk in California.[72] In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Redding's death, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, where he was inducted in 1988,[72] presented the first major exhibition of music, photographs, film and artifacts documenting the singer's life and musical legacy.[125]

Discography

Studio albums
Posthumous studio albums

References

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Bibliography
Further reading
  • Brown, Geoff (2002). Otis Redding: Try a Little Tenderness (new ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 9781841953168. 
  • Freeman, Scott (2001). Otis! : The Otis Redding Story. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 9780312262174. 
  • Schiesel, Jane (1973). The Otis Redding Story (1st ed.). Garden City, New York: Doubleday. ISBN 9780385023351. 
  • Delehant, Jim (2004). David Brackett. ed. The Pop, Rock, and Soul Reader: Histories and Debates. New York: Oxford University Press. "The Blues Changes from Day to Day" "Otis Redding Interview". OCLC 628872571. 

External links