Musicheads Essential Artist: Otis Redding

Otis Redding
Soul legend Otis Redding. (courtesy of the Estate of Otis Redding)
Musicheads Essential Artist: Otis Redding
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Otis Redding shares the honorific the King of Soul with both James Brown and Sam Cooke. Not only is his influence heard in soul and R&B music, but his impact on the history of popular music is immense.

Otis Redding was brought up singing gospel music in Macon, Georgia, the same town where his biggest influence was born: Little Richard. It was gospel music and Little Richard's rock and roll that shaped who he was as a singer. His first significant success as a songwriter and performer came in 1962 when the Stax/Volt label released "These Arms of Mine."

Many other hits would follow — like "Respect," which would become a huge hit for Aretha Franklin; and his version of the standard "Try a Little Tenderness," which would become one of his signature songs.

His breakthrough performance to the pop music world, outside of his popularity with Black audiences, came in 1967 when he performed at the Monterey Pop Festival.

Otis Redding was killed in a Wisconsin plane accident at the end of 1967 at the age of 26 — the same accident that killed four members of the Stax legal session band, the Bar-Kays. Shortly after his death, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" was released, one of his most successful and influential hit songs, capping off his too-short life and music career.

He's remembered as the heart and soul of the Stax label. In 1989 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by one of his biggest influences, Little Richard.

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