Birth & Death:
Full name: Otis Ray Redding, Jr.
Born: Sept. 9, 1941 in Dawson, Georgia.
Died: Dec. 10, 1967 in Madison, Wisconsin.
Otis Redding was born and raised in Georgia, and was the son of a housekeeper named Fannie and Baptist minister, Otis Redding Sr. As he grew up, he sang in his church choir and at school, and also learned to play the drums. Although both his parents worked, his father was frequently ill, and the family struggled financially. In an effort to help his family make ends meet, Otis dropped out of school in the 10th grade and began working regionally as a singer.
Otis found work in the mid-1950s as a member of The Upsetters, the backing back for flamboyant rock singer Little Richard. After that didn't work out, he bounced around with a couple of other bands for awhile before signing a contract in the early 1960s with Volt Records, a Stax Records subsidiary. He released four singles on the label during 1962-63 before his southern Soul debut album, Pain in My Heart, came out in January 1964. The album featured original songs along with remakes of songs originally recorded by Little Richard ("Lucille"), Ben E. King ("Stand By Me") and Sam Cooke ("You Send Me").
Between 1964 and his 1967 death, Otis released six albums of Soul music, which included R&B hits like "I've Been Loving You Too Long" in 1965 and "Try a Little Tenderness" in 1966. Although his first two albums weren't initially successful, the latter four all reached the top 5 on Billboard's R&B albums chart. Big-time mainstream was more elusive, however: only his 1967 release, a duet album with Carla Thomas called King & Queen, cracked the pop top 40 chart. It was only after his song "(Sittin On) The Dock of the Bay" was released after his death that Otis became a household name.
On Dec. 10, 1967, Otis, his manager, and four members of his backing band, The Bar-Kays were killed in a plane crash near the end of a flight from Tennessee to Madison, Wisconsin. It had been raining heavily at the time and that, as well as fog, contributed to the conditions that caused the accident. When the plane dove into Lake Monona, guitarist Jimmy King, organist Ronnie Caldwell, saxophone player Phalon Jones and drummer Carl Cunningham were also killed. Trumpeter Ben Cauley survived the crash after he unhooked his seat beat right before impact, then held onto a seat cushion to stay afloat in the lake.
At the time of his death in 1967, Otis was married to Zelma Redding, whom he had wed in 1961. The couple had three children: Dexter, Karla and Otis III. The two sons followed their father into the music industry, while Karla became a businesswoman.
Otis had two nicknames during his career, "The Big O" and "The King of Soul."
1970: Tell the Truth (posthumous)
1969: Love Man (posthumous)
1968: The Immortal Otis Redding (posthumous)
1968: The Dock of the Bay (posthumous)
1967: King & Queen (with Carla Thomas)
1966: Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul
1966: The Soul Album
1965: Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul
1965: The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads
1964: Pain in My Heart
Awards & Accolades:
1998: His song "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award.
1989: Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
1968: Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male Grammy for "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay."
1968: Best Rhythm & Blues Song Grammy for "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay."