Otis Redding: Pure Soul

by Erika Cox
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Otis Redding provided some great soul music in his brief music career and life. He influenced many artists, white and black, and was noted as one of the most popular soul singers of the 1960's.

His voice and style was what soul music was/is all about. Redding was born on September 9, 1941 in Dawson, Georgia.

When he was five his family moved to a housing project in Macon, Georgia and Redding began singing in his church choir. He dropped out of high school in the tenth grade to join Little Richard's band, the Upsetters.

Otis would perform in a local talent show winning the talent show fifteen times.

In 1960, he began performing and touring with a group called the Pinetoppers and made his first recording as Otis and the Shooters.

Redding was allowed to record, "These Arms of Mine" at Stax Recording Studios and soon began recording with Stax's biggest band, Booker T and the MGs.

Redding would have a number of crossover hits, including his first hit called, "Mr.Pitifall", in 1965.

Redding started touring regularly with Booker T and the MGs, and another successful soul group, the Bar-Kays.

Redding's studio recordings were just as intense and full of emotion as his live performances. Not only was his voice electric, his performances were just as electrifying.

When he sang and performed he gave it all he had, he put his soul into his soulful music.

While touring he developed a stronger following and white fan base in Europe than he did in America but that would change in 1965 when he recorded his first major hit, "I've been loving you too long" and "Respect."

He also had hits with remakes like Sam Cooke's "Shake", "A change is gonna come", and the Rolling Stones "Satisfaction, which became a crossover hit for Redding. His song, "I Can't Turn You Loose" became a top ten hit in 1965.

After dishing out these popular hits and more in 1967, Redding became just as popular in America. His success and popularity grew even more when he appeared as the only soul act in the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, which displayed an array of new, talented artists including, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and some popular artists like, the Who.

Redding stood out at the festival as a major force and was definitely a success - his future looked bright.

However six months later in December 1967, Redding was killed in a plane accident along with several members of the Bar-Kays.

Unfortunately, Redding would never see his song he recorded just four days before his death, "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay", achieve major success.

The song released after his death, would go to number one on the pop and R&B charts and stay there for four long weeks.

Although his career was brief, Redding influenced countless music artists and gained worldwide popularity and success.

He will be forever remembered as one of the best soul artists. Unlike another great soul singer, Sam Cooke, Redding would also have major crossover success.

Otis Redding was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

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