I have always been a fan of music, all kinds of music. It has been enjoyable for me to research the different artists and groups and learn something about them that I didn't know before. A few consistent facts emerge in their lives and how the achieved success: (1) All the artists that I have written about were people who were very passionate about their craft of music; (2) All the artists had to work very, very hard to learn their craft; (3) All the artists took significant risks to pursue their passion.
Todays artist is no different. He was passionate about music from his boyhood years until the day of his death. Ladies and Gentlemen I now present to you Mr. Otis Redding Jr.
Otis was born on September 9, 1941 in Dawson, Georgia. His father, Otis Redding Sr, was a Gospel Singer, Sharecropper and a part time Preacher. His mom, Fannie Redding, was a stay at home mom.
Otis Jr. sang in the church choir as a young boy. During this time he learned how to play guitar and piano. He took singing lessons and drum lessons from the age of ten years old. In high school Otis earned six dollars per week singing gospel songs on Macon, Georgia, radio station WIBB. Otis was passionate about singing. His influences were Little Richard and Sam Cooke, two of the best known artist of that day.
Otis Redding Jr. spent his early years touring throughout the south playing only black venues. The south was segregated during those days with the restrictive Jim Crow laws still in effect.
In October 1962 Otis released his first single, “These Arms of Mine.” This was his most successful record to date selling over 800,000 copies. “These Arms of Mine” was included in his first album, Pain in My Heart which was released on January 1, 1964. This album peaked at number 20 on the Billboard Top 100 Albums.
Otis was a remarkable singer as well as songwriter. One song that he sang, putting his remarkable spin on was Try a Little Tenderness. This same song was recorded by Frank Sinatra and later by Three Dog Night. Otis’ version gives Sinatra’s version a run for its money. His songwriting talent is demonstrated with the song Respect. This song was a huge hit for Aretha Franklin.
In 1967 Otis closed out the second day of the Monterey Pop Festival. Some notable stars who witnessed his performance and were largely impressed are Booker T and the MG’s who were his backing band, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin said the Otis Redding showed her how to let go and give a song everything she had from deep within her.
In early December 1967 Otis recorded his greatest hit song Sitting on the Dock of the Bay. On December 9, 1967, Otis and his band played three shows in Cleveland, OH. They had to be in Madison, Wisconsin, the next day so they all flew on a chartered plane. Four miles outside of Madison the plane crashed into Lake Monona killing all on board except one passenger. Otis Redding’s body was recovered from the lake the next day.
Sitting on the Dock of the Bay was released in January 1968 and became the first posthumous number one record in music history. Otis Redding Jr. was only 26 years old when he died. Imagine what he might have accomplished had he lived a normal span of life. Otis Redding was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. He was known as “The King of Soul.” He left us way too early!