Otis Redding

Otis Redding
Otis Redding
Background information
Birth name Otis Ray Redding, Jr.
Born September 9, 1941(1941-09-09)
Dawson, Georgia, U.S.
Died December 10, 1967(1967-12-10) (aged 26)
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
Genres Soul, Southern soul, soul blues
Occupations Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, drums, guitar, piano
Years active 1960–1967
Labels Stax, Volt, Atco, Rhino, Sundazed
Associated acts The Upsetters, The Bar-Kays, Carla Thomas
Website otisredding.com

Otis Ray Redding, Jr. (September 9, 1941 – December 10, 1967) was an American soul singer-songwriter. He is considered one of the major figures in soul and R&B. 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 rhythm and blues 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 went on to become 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 help his family financially, working with Little Richards's backing band the Upsetters, and playing talent shows for the prize money. In 1958 he joined Johnny Jenkins's band, the Pinetoppers, and toured the Southern United States, with Redding serving as the driver. An unscheduled gig led to a turning point in his career. He signed a contract with record label Stax Records and released his debut album Pain in My Heart in 1964. This album produced his first single on Stax, "These Arms of Mine".

Although he was more popular among blacks early in his career, he later became equally popular among whites. Initially, he performed small gigs in the South, but that changed when his group performed at the nightclub Whisky a Go Go, their first concert in the Western United States. Internationally, Redding performed in Paris and London among other venues. Redding's death was devastating for Stax, which was verging on bankruptcy. Later they discovered that Atlantic owned the rights to the entire catalog. Redding won numerous awards posthumously, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His legacy remains solid; he received the honorific nickname "King of Soul".


Early life

Redding was born in the small town of 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. He sometimes worked weekends as a part-time preacher. When Redding was three, the family moved to nearby Macon into the Tindall Heights Housing Project, a public housing project for blacks.[1] For a short time they lived in a small house in Bellevue, but when it burned down they moved back to Tindall.[1] At an early age he sang in Vineville Baptist Church choir and learned guitar and piano.[2] 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 playing songs for Macon radio station WIBB.[2] He loved singing; and later cited Little Richard and Sam Cooke as major influences. Redding later 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."[3][4]

At 15 he abandoned school to help his family financially. His father had tuberculosis and was often in hospital, leaving his mother as the bread-winner.[1] Redding worked as a well digger, gas station attendant and guest musician. Another inspiration was the pianist Gladdy Williams, a well-known musician in Macon. She often performed at Hillview Springs Social Club, and Redding sometimes played there on piano. She often hosted talent shows on Sundays. Redding often accompanied his friends from the neighborhood, such as Little Willie Jones and Eddie Ross, the latter on bass guitar.[5] But his breakthrough came when he played Little Richard's "Heebie Jeebies", winning in a 5$ contest fifteen weeks in a row, until being banned.[6] Redding was soon after hired by Little Richard's band The Upsetters. He earned a good wage at about US$25 per gig,[1][2] but he did not stay with the band for long.[7]

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.[8] His backing band was not professional, so guitarist Johnny Jenkins, who saw his performance, offered help. Jenkins later worked as lead guitarist and played with Redding on several gigs. With Jenkins help, he won the contest every week.[9] Shortly afterwards, he was invited to replace Willie Jones, frontman of Pat Teacake's Band, which also featured Jenkins.[5] At the age of 19 Redding met the 15-years-old Zelma Atwood at "The Teenage Party". She gave birth to Dexter and married Redding in August 1961.[10] In mid-1960 he moved to Los Angeles with his sister Deborah Redding, 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.[2]


Early career

As a member of Teacake's Band, Redding toured in the Southern United States, especially on the Chitlin' circuit. These performance venues were safe for African-American musicians during the age of racial segregation which lasted into the early 1960s.[11] Jenkins later left Teacake to become the featured artist with the "Pinetoppers".[12] Around this time, Redding met Phil Walden, the future founder of the recording company Phil Walden and Associates, and later Bobby Smith, who ran a small record label, Confederate Records. He signed with Confederate and recorded his second single, "Shout Bamalama" (a rewrite of "Gamma Lamma"), which he performed with his band "Otis and the Shooters".[13][2] Wayne Cochran, the only solo artist signed to Confederate, became the Pinetoppers' bass guitarist.[12]

Next, Redding wrote the song, "These Arms of Mine", his first single for Stax.[14] This ballad sold more than 800,000 copies.[15] At the same time, Walden started to look for a record label. Atlantic Records representative Joe Galkin was interested in working with Jenkins and proposed to send him to a Stax studio in Memphis. On the way to a gig, Redding drove for Jenkins, as the latter did not possess a driver's license.[16] Jenkins performed with Booker T. & the M.G.'s. When that set ended early, Redding had the opportunity to perform. The first song was "Hey Hey Baby", but studio chief Jim Stewart thought it sounded too much like Little Richard. The next song was "These Arms of Mine", which featured Jenkins on guitar and Steve Cropper on piano. 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."[17][10]

Redding's debut album Pain in My Heart was released on January 1, 1964 by Stax on the Volt sister label. Some songs, such as "These Arms of Mine" and "Security", later charted successfully as singles. The title track sparked some copyright issues, as it sounded like Irma Thomas' "Ruler of My Heart".[18] Despite this, the album peaked at number 20 on the Billboard R&B chart and at number 85 on the Billboard Hot 100. As the majority of the songs released after "Security" were more adagio, several DJs labelled Otis Redding, "Mr. Pitiful". Subsequently Cropper and Redding wrote a song with that name[10] and included it on Redding's second studio album, The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads, released in March 1965.[19]

In 1965 Redding co-wrote the soul song "I've Been Loving You Too Long" together with friend Jerry Butler, lead singer of The Impressions, in a hotel near the Atlanta airport.[19] In the summer of 1965, Redding and the studio crew arranged new songs for Redding's next album. Over July 9–10 all songs except "I've Been Loving You" were written in exactly 24 hours in Memphis. Two of the eleven 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.[19] The album, entitled Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul, was finally released in September 1965,[20] one of the first albums released by Volt.[19]

Whisky a Go Go and "Try a Little Tenderness"

Redding's success let him buy a 300-acre (1.2 km2) ranch in Georgia, calling it the "Big O Ranch" (which was extended to 460-acre (1.9 km2) after his death).[21] 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) and Redwal Music (derived from Redding and Walden).[22] Their audience had been mostly black, but The Beatles were fans of the Stax/Volt recordings, encouraging Redding to perform for a big white audience. They chose Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. Redding would be 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 Redding further into the mainstream. Bob Dylan attended and offered him an altered version of Dylan's song "Just Like A Woman",[10] but Redding did not record it. It 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.[23]

In late 1966 Redding returned to the Stax studio to record. One track was "Try a Little Tenderness", written by Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly and Harry M. Woods in 1932.[24] Today this is often considered to be Redding's signature song.[25] 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]".[26] On this version Redding was backed by Booker T. & the MG's. Staff producer Isaac Hayes worked on the arrangement.[27][28] "Try a Little Tenderness" was included on his next album, Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul. Although the song was commercially successful – it peaked at number 25 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and at number 4 on R&B singles chart – the album did not.[29] In search of a wider audience, Walden and his crew organized a tour to London, where R&B was popular thanks to artists like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, who had covered various R&B songs. In the winter of 1966, booking agent Bill Graham proposed that Redding play at the Fillmore Theatre. The performance was commercially and critically successful,[28] prompting Graham to remark afterwards, "That was the biggest gig I ever put on in my entire life."[30]

A year after the Fillmore, Redding released another studio album, King & Queen, this time with Carla Thomas. He returned to Europe to perform at the Olympia Theatre in Paris. A live album entitled Otis Redding: Live in Europe was released three months later featuring this performance. Other live performances were in London and Stockholm,[21] featured in the albums Live in London and Paris and in the bootleg Live in Concerthouse – Stockholm.[31] Redding was criticized for his arrogant and contrived performances in the last concerts. His controversial decision to take Alexander Conley on the tour instead of artists such as Rufus Thomas and William Bell was also criticized. Al Bell was active in the Stax reorganization. He undertook routine business and managed tours for Redding among others, the latter task formerly done by Estelle Baxton, sister of Jim Stewart. He was later hired as the new A&R head, replacing Steve Cropper, as the crew thought he would be more successful.[28][32]

Live at Monterey

In 1967 Redding performed at the famous Monterey Pop Festival in Monterey, California. This was the first widely promoted and heavily attended rock festival, which attracted an estimated 55,000 attendees with up to 90,000 people at the event's peak at midnight on Sunday.[33] The festival, which became one of the major festivals in Monterey alongside the Monterey Jazz Festival and the Monterey Folk Festival, was founded by John Phillips from The Mamas & the Papas and promoter Lou Adler. It ran from June 16–18, and mostly included musical acts from the "Hippie" movement, such as The Who, Jefferson Airplane and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. This was the first major concert for several of the participating bands.[34]

Redding performed on the second day, alongside Booker T. & the M.G.s, but arranged the song list only 10 minutes before his performance. At the end of their song "Green Onions", Tom Smothers introduced the last act. Redding and his backing band The Bar-Kays opened with Cooke's "Shake" and then played "Respect" (written by Redding). Then Redding 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 two last songs were "Satisfaction" and "Try a Little Tenderness". As the band performed the ending incorrectly, Redding returned and completed the song 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.[25] 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 the chart-topping "Sweet Soul Music", a song based on Sam Cooke's "Yeah Man".[22] It peaked at number two on Billboard Hot 100.[35][36]

"(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" and death

Redding developed polyps on his larynx, which he tried to treat with tea and lemon or honey. He was hospitalized in September, 1967 to undergo surgery. In the winter of 1967, he again came to Stax to record. One new song was "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay", written by Cropper and Redding. Redding was inspired by the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. He wanted to attain a similar sound, against the label's wishes. Redding's wife was unhappy that it did not sound like a typical Redding song. Redding wanted to change his musical style to avoid boring his audience. The Stax crew were similarly dissatisfied; Jim Stewart thought that it was not R&B, while bassist Duck Dunn thought its sound would damage Stax. However, Redding thought it was the best song he ever wrote and would top the charts.[37] Redding whistled at the end, either intending to add lyrics later,[38] forgetting Cropper's ending rap,[39] or it was meant to be an intentional interpretation.[40] Redding died just three days later.[36]

The group had begun to fly 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.[41][42][36] On the next day they played at the "Factory" nightclub near the University of Wisconsin after opening act "The Grim Reapers", precursor of Cheap Trick.[43][41]

After a last phone call with his wife and children, Redding's next stop was in Madison, Wisconsin. The weather was poor, with heavy rain and fog, and he had been warned to postpone the flight.[44] Four miles from their destination at Truax Field, Fraser 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,[36] 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 the frigid water, grasping a seat cushion to keep afloat.[45] The cause of the crash was never precisely determined.[46] The only other Bar-Kays to survive were James Alexander and Carl Sims, demoted to a commercial flight for lack of room on the H18.[47][36]

Redding's body was recovered the next day when the lakebed was searched.[48] The funeral 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 auditorium, although many did not know who Redding actually was. Johnny Jenkins did not come, fearing his reaction would be worse than Zelma Redding's.[49] Redding was entombed on his ranch in Round Oak, 23 miles (37 km) north of Macon.[50] Jerry Wexler delivered the eulogy.[51]

In 2007, a memorial plaque was placed on the lakeside deck of the Madison convention center, Monona Terrace.[52] "(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 U.S. chart history.[53] It sold about 4 million copies worldwide and had received more than 8 million airplays as of 2003.[54][55] The album The Dock of the Bay was the first posthumous album to reach the top spot on the UK Albums Chart.[56]

Posthumous releases

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.[57] 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.[57] 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).[57] 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 Monterey performances on side two.

In September 2007, the first official DVD anthology of Redding's live performances was released by Concord Music Group, the current 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 Redding's life and career.[58] On May 18, 2010, Stax Records released a three-disc recording of three complete sets that he played at the Whisky a Go Go in April 1966.[59]


Statue by Bradley Cooley in Gateway Park

Otis Redding, who received the honorific nickname "King of Soul",[60] a title also given to musicians James Brown[61] and Sam Cooke[62][63][64], remains one of the most recognized artists in soul music. His lean and powerful style exemplified the Stax Sound,[65] and gave Stax a new identity; he was sometimes said to be its "heart and soul".[66] His tremolo, and honesty were particular hallmarks, along with the use of interjections, for example "gotta, gotta, gotta", some of which came from Sam Cooke.[67][66] Producer Jim Stewart thought the "begging singing" was stress-induced and also caused by Redding's extreme, early shyness.[68] Early on he copied the singing style of Little Richard, one of his idols, but gradually developed his own style. Primarily he was influenced by soul musicians such as Little Richard and Sam Cooke, whose live album Live at the Copa was a strong influence,[67] but later explored different genres that were popular during his time. He studied the contemporary music of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and later also rock music by artists such as Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, as can be heard in songs like "Hard to Handle", which was more rock and roll than R&B.[69]

Another characteristic was his 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." 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." 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".[70] Booker T. Jones, an American musician, has described Otis' singing as energetic and emotional, but said that his vocal range was limited, including neither low nor high notes.[71]

Although he mostly covered songs, he also wrote or at least co-wrote a few, such as "Respect", "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay" or "Security". Most of lyrics of songs he wrote were about love, though. However, in "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay" he abandoned the romantic themes and replaced it with "sad, wistful introspections, amplified by unforgettable descending guitar riffs by Cropper".[72] 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."[73] Booker T. Jones compared Redding with Leonard Bernstein, as he meant "He was the same type person. He was a leader. He'd just lead with his arms and his body and his fingers."[68]

Artists from many genres named Redding as a musical influence, including The Grateful Dead, The Black Crowes, Pearl Jam,[74] Lynyrd Skynyrd,[75] The Doors, Steely Dan, Phish, Everclear[74]; soul/R&B musicians Al Green, Etta James[21] and William Bell;[74] musicians from the late 20th century John Mayer, Christine Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson; and musical artists from other genres, such as Willie Nelson, Rod Stewart, Michael Bolton, Kanye West (who mixed his songs, which appeared on "Gone" and "Otis", the latter together with Jay-Z), Toots Hibbert of Toots & The Maytals,[21] Bob Dylan,[16] Guy Sebastian,[74] and Janis Joplin[76] and have covered Redding songs.

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."[77] 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.[78][79][54] In 1993, the U.S. Post Office issued an Otis Redding 29-cent commemorative postage stamp.[80] Redding was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994,[73] and in 1999 he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.[81] 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."[82] American music magazine Rolling Stone ranked Redding at number twenty-one on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time"[83] and number eight on their list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time".[71]

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 the aforementioned magazine 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",[84] while Time listed it on their "100 Greatest Albums of All Time" list.[85] 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.[86] The Rhythm and Blues Foundation named Redding as the recipient of its 2006 Legacy Award.[87] Billboard awarded Redding the "Otis Redding Excellence Award" in the same year.[21] In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Redding's passing, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame presented from September 14, 2007 through September 10, 2008 the first major exhibition of music, photographs, film and artifacts documenting the singer's life and musical legacy. The exhibition was named "Museum Exhibition of the Year" by the Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries in January 2008.[88]


Studio albums
Posthumous studio albums


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External links

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См. также в других словарях:

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