Those who, like Tunde Folawiyo, enjoy listening to soul music, will no doubt be aware of Otis Redding. His emotive, gritty vocals, coupled with his ability to compose tender, sorrowful ballads as well as light, upbeat tunes, led to him rising to fame at a very young age.
Born in 1941, Redding was raised in Georgia. Although he was a bright student, he withdrew from formal education during his early teens in order to provide his family with financial support. Due to his musical talent, he chose to work in the backing band for Little Richard, as well as entering talent shows that offered cash prizes.
At the age of 17, he became a member of a band called the Pinetoppers, which was led by Johnny Jenkins; with them, he toured around the southern states. An unscheduled performance with this group at the famous Stax recording studio resulted in Redding getting signed, and releasing his first solo single entitled These Arms Of Mine. This song was a great success, eventually rising to Number 20 in the national R&B charts. It was included, along with several others, on the album which he released in 1964, called Pain In My Heart.
While his album certainly helped to put him on the map, it was Redding’s live performances that made him a star. His passionate, soulful singing on the ‘chitlin’ circuit resulted in him becoming one of the most beloved musicians of the 1960s. Between 1965 and 1966 Redding released a slew of hits, including I Can’t Turn You Loose, I’ve Been Loving You Too Long and Satisfaction, which was a cover of the original Rolling Stones single. Redding wrote many of his own songs, but was occasionally assisted by Steve Cropper, a guitarist.
During this period, Redding became more interested in other aspects of music, such as production, development and talent management, which is why he decided to set up a label of his own, called Jostis. He still loved singing, however, and continued to tour, giving one of his most memorable performances at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.
Not long after this event, Redding worked with Steve Cropper to compose Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay. Sadly, Redding died in a plane crash just weeks after recording this piece. It became the first ever posthumous single to reach Number One in both the R&B and Billboard 100 charts. His posthumous album, Dock Of The Bay, also topped the UK album chart for several months.