Today is the birthday of American singer and songwriter Otis Redding (1941), best known for soulful songs like “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,”
“Try a Little Tenderness,”
“These Arms of Mine,”
which became a signature song for Aretha Franklin.
Redding was born in Dawson, Georgia. He showed musical promise early, singing in the Vineville Baptist Church and learning guitar, drums, and piano. Every Sunday he earned $6.00 performing gospel songs for radio station WIBB in Macon. In 1958 he took part in Hamp Swain’s hugely popular “The Teenage Party” talent contests at the Roxy and Douglass Theatres in Macon, singing Little Richard’s “Heeby Jeebies.” He won the contest for 15 weeks straight.
It was when he agreed to drive his friend Johnny Jenkins to a recording session at Stax Studios in Memphis that his life changed. Jenkins’s session fell flat, and Redding convinced the producers to let him have a turn. He sang “These Arms of Mine.” Jim Stewart, the studio chief, said: “There was something different about [the ballad]. He really poured his soul into it.” The song was released in 1962 and sold more than 800,000 copies.
Otis Redding recorded six albums during the 1960s. He became so successful that he bought a 300-acre ranch in Georgia and named it “Mr. Pitiful”
after one of his ballads. He owned 200 suits and 400 pairs of shoes and when he performed at the Monterey Pop Festival during the Summer of Love (1967) Janis Joplin introduced him by saying, “This is God that’s coming on stage here.” (https://societyofrock.com/caught-on-tape-janis-joplin-jams-otis-redding-tune-with-bandmate-and-its-awesome/)
He wrote one of his most famous songs, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” after listening to the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
He added a distinctive whistle at the end. Three days after recording the song Otis Redding died (1967) when his plane crashed outside Madison, Wisconsin. He was 26 years old. Some 4,500 people came to his funeral. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” was released after his death and sold over a million copies. (https://www.garrisonkeillor.com/radio/twa-the-writers-almanac-for-september-9-2021/)