Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Otis Redding

When one says the name "Otis", no further identification should be neccessary. To those individuals for which that may not be the case, well then stand up, gather your books, come to the front of the room, it's back to the first grade for you. Off we go...
Otis Ray Redding Jr. was born september 9,1941 in Dawson,Georgia. When he was five years old his family moved to Macon,Georgia where he began singing in the church choir. As a teenager he won the talent show at the Douglass Theater 15 weeks in a row. His earliest influence was fellow Macon resident Little Richard Penniman. Otis himself has said he wouldn't be in the business if it weren't for Little Richard, and that he emulated Richards' style of singing.

After winning a number of local amateur contests, he became the vocalist for Johnny Jenkins And The Pinetoppers, a band that established itself playing mainly colleges. He recorded a single with the group called "Love Twist",which became a regional hit. Sometime later while still with The Pinetoppers, he recorded another single,"These Arms Of Mine", a solid hit, and he was on his way. The singles "Fat Gal" and "Shout Bamalama" followed, recorded under the name Otis Redding And The Pinetoppers on the Confederate and Orbit Labels.
Things really started moving when Otis re-recorded "These Arms Of Mine " for release on the Volt label, a susidiary of the reknowned Stax Records, based in Memphis,Tennessee. His manager at the time was fellow Maconite Phil Walden. He continued to record for Stax/Volt, and built his fan base by extensively touring with support act Sam And Dave, backup band Booker T. & The MGs with the Memphis Horns, and later The Bar-Kays.

Further hits between 1964 and 1966 included, "I Can't Turn You Loose", "Try A Little Tenderness",  and "Respect", which became a huge hit for Aretha Franklin. Otis wrote many of his own songs collaborating with guitarist Steve Cropper of The MGs. He co-wrote another hit with Jerry Butler, "I've Been Loving You Too Long". He enjoyed mainstream success with the song "Tramp",a duet with Carla Thomas.
In 1967 he performed at The Monterey Pop Festival , where exposure of his gifts to a wider audience contributed to his subsequent pop success.

On December 9,1967 Otis and his backup band, The Bar-Kays, performed in Cleveland,Ohio on the local tv show Upbeat. That night they played Leo's Casino, a small club in Cleveland. This was Otis Redding's final performance, for on the next afternoon, his Beechcraft 18 airplane crashed into Lake Monona, killing Redding and all aboard with the exception of Ben Cauley. James Alexander, the second surviving bandmember was on another plane due to the fact that they were a party of eight and the plane could only hold seven. Otis died December 10,1967.  His body was recovered and he was entombed on his private ranch in Round Oak, Georgia.

Recorded three days prior to his death, "Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay" , was released posthumously,and was his only #1 hit. Redding considered the song unfinished ,whistling through the last section with the intention of composing the remaining lyrics later. Otis was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.
Rest in peace , Mr. Pitiful.

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