Otis Redding, born Otis Ray Redding Jr., in Dawson, Georgia. When he was 5 years old, Redding's family moved to Macon, Georgia, where he grew up listening to the music of Sam Cooke and Little Richard. In the late 1950s, Redding joined the Upsetters, the band that had formerly backed Little Richard.

In 1960, Otis Redding moved to Los Angeles, California, where he began releasing singles. He returned to Georgia a year later and recorded "Shout Bamalama." He befriended guitarist Johnny Jenkins and joined his band, the Pinetoppers. During one of Jenkins's recording sessions at Memphis's Stax studios, Redding recorded a ballad he'd written, "These Arms of Mine." The song quickly took off, rising to No. 20 on the R&B charts in 1963.

Redding began a career recording at Stax, playing guitar and arranging his own songs. He was known for his energy in the studio and, in 1965, recorded the album Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul in one day. He released "I've Been Loving Your Too Long (to Stop Now)" that same year, and "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)" a year later.

In 1967, Redding released a successful duet album with Carla Thomas. That same year, he produced Arthur Conley's "Sweet Soul Music," which went to No. 2 on the R&B charts. Other artists of the day were influenced by Redding and Aretha Franklin's rendition of his song, "Respect," became legendary. Hoping to become more involved behind the scenes, Redding started his own label, Jotis.

On December 6, 1967, Redding recorded "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay." The song hit No. 1 on the pop and R&B charts the following year, but Redding wouldn't live to see his success. Four days after the recording session—on December 10, 1967—Redding and four members of his band, the Bar-Keys, were killed after their chartered plane crashed into a Wisconsin lake.


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