Songwriter, Guitarist, Producer. And one of the greatest voices of all time: Otis Redding.
Raw, powerful, tender—his sound defined a new kind of soul music. While Motown Records released smooth polished numbers, down south at Stax, Otis and his band came out with all the grit lacking up north.
Gritty and emotional. Redding wrote the soundtrack for every broken heart. From his very first hit, “These Arms of Mine” to the last song he ever recorded, the mournful and iconic Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay, Otis was known for churning out sad, sad songs. He even had a song called—take a guess—sad song.
All those ballads led one radio disc jockey—a man called Moohah Williams—to dub Otis Redding, “Mr. Pitiful.”
One day, Otis’s guitarist and co-songwriter, Steve Cropper, was in the shower thinkin’ about his pal’s new nickname, when he was struck by an idea. A melodic response to that DJ. Released in ’65, the song became an instant hit. Otis Redding with “Mr. Pitiful.”
(September 9, 1941 – December 10, 1967)
American singer-songwriter, producer, arranger and talent scout Otis Redding was born September 9, 1941 in Dawson, Georgia. He moved to Macon when he was five years old and started singing in church at an early age and was a member of his high school band. His tremendous talent was on display from an early age: he was a frequent competitor in the Douglass Theater talent show, after their a five dollar prize, but after winning 15 times in a row was no longer allowed to participation in the competition.
In 1960 Otis joined Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers. Two years later the band made the trip to Memphis, TN to record at Stax records. At the end of their session, Otis asked co-owner Jim Stewart to allow him to cut a few songs with their remaining studio time. The result of that first session was “These Arms of Mine,” released shortly thereafter. That song was the first in a long line of hits, many of them co-written, arranged and produced by Redding. “Respect,” “I’ve Been Lovin’ You Too Long,” “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay,” are just a few of the classics Otis gave us.
Redding had a talent for finance, in music and beyond. He was also president of Redwal Music Publishing Co., as well as the founder of his own label Jotis Records. In addition to his entrepreneurialism in the music industry, Otis made money on outside investments.
Otis died on December 10, 1967, when his private plane crashed into Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin. He was 26 years old.