Otis Redding (Otis Ray Redding)

Otis Redding

Otis Redding

One of the most popular and critically acclaimed soul vocalist, songwriter and musician representatives of the R&B style known as Southern soul. He is generally regarded as the single most influential male soul artist of the 1960s. He was one of the first artists to broaden his appeal to white audiences with a raw, spontaneous style that bore a stark contrast to the smooth, sophisticated music of Motown. Otis Redding, Jr. was born on Sept. 9, 1941 in Dawson, Georgia, the son of a Baptist minister. He grew up in poverty in the Tindall Heights housing projects of Macon, Georgia, where he started singing in the church choir of Vineville Baptist Church. Redding later attended Ballad Hudson High School and participated in the band. He dropped out of high school in the tenth grade, determined to help his family financially. Redding went to work with Little Richard’s former band, the Upsetters, serving as both chauffeur and vocalist as the group played the fraternity-house circuit. He also began to compete in local talent shows for the $5 prize, winning 15 straight times. Redding was discovered while singing with Macon guitarist Johnny Jenkins band, the Pine Toppers, and first recorded as a member of that group for the tiny Confederate label in 1960. He later married Zelma Atwood in Aug. of 1961 and they had three children and one that would later be adopted after his death. In Oct. of 1962, Jenkins and the group were booked to cut some sides at Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee. Redding was invited at the end session to make his first solo album “These Arms of Mine.” The album became the first of a series of soul ballads by Redding. After years of ambition and drive, his sacrifices had paid off. During the mid-1960s, Redding toured the United States playing numerous one-night engagements in theatres such as the Apollo in New York and clubs frequented by African-Americans. He also toured Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean. Redding’s concert tours were among the biggest box office successes of any touring performer during this time. Ironically, although he consistently impacted the R&B charts beginning with the Top Ten appearance of “Mr. Pitiful” in 1965, none of Redding’s singles fared better than #21 on the pop Top Forty. In 1965, he moved his family into a spacious 300 acre property, in Round Oak, Georgia he called “The Big O Ranch”. Sept. of that same year saw the release of Redding’s Otis Blue/ Otis Redding Swings Soul which was recorded in 24 hours and features the classic “Respect” as well as the celebrated soul ballads, “I’ve Been Loving Yoo Too Long,” and “A Change is Gonna Come.” The song that many consider Redding’s greatest, “Try A Little Tenderness,” was later recorded in 1967. On Dec. 10, 1967 in Lake Monona, Madison, Wisconsin, Otis Redding along with six others were killed at the peak of his career at the age of 26 in a plane crash during a storm en route to a concert in Madison. About 4,500 mourners crowded Macon’s City Auditorium for Redding’s funeral a week later. He was buried on the grounds of his family estate. Four months after his death, Redding would achieve his first American number one album for his hit which hit No. 1 on the pop and R&B charts. (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” (1967) released in January of 1968 later won Redding two 1968 Grammy Awards. Redding has received several other honors since his death, including induction into the The Rock & Roll hall of Fame in 1989, The Georgia Music Hall of Fame, the naming of a bridge in Macon after Redding and the United States Postal Service issuing a commemorative stamp! in his honor on June 16, 1993. In 1992, a release of the CD “The Very Best of Otis Redding was issued and soon went gold after selling more than 500,00 copies. Who knows where Otis Redding’s career path might have taken him. All we know is that the world lost a musical legend whose classics live on.


  • September, 09, 1941
  • Dawson, Georgia


  • December, 10, 1967
  • Monona, Wisconsin

Cause of Death

  • Plane Crash


  • Big O Ranch
  • Rond Oak, Georgia

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