Otis Redding – Soul’s Big O by Guy Haviv - Ourboox.com
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Otis Redding – Soul’s Big O

Member Since
Apr 2020
Published Books

Otis’ Upbringing 

was a classic African-American-born-in-the-1950’s experience, born and raised at a small southern town in Georgia , he was the fourth of six children in the Redding household and the first son to Otis Redding Sr.

As expected, the Reddings attended church at an often basis , and Otis was quick to preform his “first gigs” at a very young age – singing in the Church Choir.

He loved singing there,  and there’s no doubt that Gospel music influenced his style with it’s emotion ,as an adult singer,

while his tough social-economic situation made him strive for greatness as well.


Here is a nice witness of that emotion,

Playing at the British TV show ‘Ready,Set,Go!’ in 1966.

(Remember : This is a “Black” artist at the 60’s in front of mainly “White” crowd, there was no precedent for this kind of performance)

People are DANCING!



Otis was also influenced by

other African-American atrists at the time , mainly Little Richard , which he considered his role model.

After his father died when he was a teenager , he dropped out of school and tried his luck singing as a profession.

On his breaktrough performance at the Douglass Theatre in his hometown , he sang Little Richard’s “Heeby Jeebies”.



After that, he was hired to a couple of bands

and recorded his first Single – “These Arms of Mine” ,

but ultimately decided to move to Los Angeles, while returning to the South often.



Otis became a prominent musican

in a matter of a couple years.

In 1962-1963 he recorded the music to appear on his debut studio album “Pain in My Heart“, Here’s my favorite single off that record , “Security” :

In late 1963 he was invited to New York City to perform at the Apollo Theater to record a live collaboration album for Atlantic Records.

At the recording Otis manages to meet some of the greats of the time such as Ben E. KingDoris Troy and Rufus Thomas.



His success continued

as in the following years he continued to tour and release albums of high popularity.

At his most prolific time , he released his 1965 album

Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul” , while writing 10 songs in the matter of 24-hours. Though other songs were more meticulously crafted like this single –  “Respect” , Sounds familiar ?



This song later become one of Aretha Franklin’s most popular songs ever :

Paving the way to other major artists appreciating Redding’s talent at songwriting.


Otis’ career was booming

He had multiple Top 100 songs , and his tours were a success.

He began to gain crowd outside of the African-American-Soul circles.

In 1965 he bought “The Big O Ranch” in his home-state Georgia, a 300-acre ranch that stands to this day.

Later that year he performed at L.A’s ‘Whiskey a Go Go’,

a venue known for Rock crowds.

A full playlist of the show can be found here.


Otis’ Pop talent gloomed

in early 1967 when releasing a Duet Album with Carla Thomas.

With Otis being a regular on the R&B charts,

their joint “King & Queen” charted as high as No.5 on the Pop charts.

You can hear on this song , what made them King and Queen respectively:


But 1967 was an unfortunate year

At , arguably , the peak of his career, things took a turn.

Late 1967 Otis began working on new material that would later become “The Dock of the Bay“.

While Redding and his band were traveling to Wisconsin in his airplane , they crashed in a lake with only one survivor – Bar-Kays trumpt player Ben Cauley.

He was only 26 years old.

The funeral took place in his hometown , with 4500 people in attendance.


The Dock of the Bay

was released in 1968 and was the first posthumous album to reach No.1 in the UK albums chart (in times where The Beatles reigned supreme).

The lead single “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” was the first posthumous No.1 single on the U.S charts, making it Redding’s most popular song :


Redding continued to live through music

with a short but impressive legacy behind him.

He received multiple posthumous awards , including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award , and was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

He’s considered one of the best singers of all time.

Otis was a synonm for “Black-Excellence” , inspiring many African-American artists to come.

One of my own favorites is this cover of “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” by (the “Alternative”) Harlem-based rapper ASAP Rocky.


We can’t be sure

if Otis imagined his influence on the future for African-American artists.

My favorite exmaple of that (and how I actually got to know his music) is defined in the 2011 record “Otis” , by two of the biggest stars of 2000’s music Kanye West and Jay Z.

Kanye , who has a reputation for being a master of Soul sampling , turned “Try a Little Tenderness” – one of Otis’ biggest tracks – that starts as a soulful ballad and builds up tempo throughout the track – to an In-Your-Face scream of how outrageously successful both have become ,a.k.a , ‘Otis’ :

Warning: (Explicit Content)

Otis Redding is most definitly one of modern music’s biggest “What-Ifs”

For such a talented and inspiring artist , his early death surely left “taste-for-more” for fans back then and today.

His upbringing paved the way for his ambition and poise to take over the world , while his raw talent and presence made him gain fans everywhere, in a very short time :

We never know what other surprises he could’ve brought , but we should cherish the ones we have.

Thanks to the Big O !

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