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The King of Soul- Long Live the King!- The Otis Redding Story

Posted by on April 7, 2012 at 12:20 AM

Rolling Stone magazine in 2010 voted him the 8th best singer in the history of rock and roll. His mere stage presence sent girls swooning in the aisles. The respect he earned among his peers was unequalled in the music business. He had 17 top 20 hits on Billboard. But despite this glowing description, you probably don't know him. Certainly if you're under 30 you don't. If his name rings a bell, it is for one song, a song that he recorded just days before his untimely death at age 26. His name- Otis Redding.

Otis Redding was born September 9, 1941. He was a giant in the business both figuratively and literally with his imposing stage presence and booming voice. The song that most people know him for- one that he didn't live to see the success of- Sitting on the Dock of The Bay. Sitting on the Dock of the Bay was recorded just days before Redding was tragically killed along with several members of his backing band in a plane crash outside Madison, Wisconsin on December 10, 1967. His single, released posthumously went quickly to number one and remains over 40 years later one of the most frequently played songs of all time. I am a recent convert to Redding's music, proving old dogs can learn new tricks. Although I had tried to karaoke "Dock of the Bay", I wasn't familiar with the music legend Redding had become in six short years of recording. I listened to song after song and got hooked again and again. In one song, he is pained and pleading and in the next large and in charge. He effortlessly plays from one emotion to another, his voice at once soulful and other worldly. What inspires me about Otis Redding though is his passion. He was most convincingly passionate about his art, his craft. At the young age of 26, he was living his dream, making beautiful music and particularly after the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 appealed to a vast audience. Redding paid it forward, too. He wrote songs that others recorded such as "Respect", he produced music for others and even at 26 knew he wanted to help others less fortunate. His widow Zelma, developed the "Big O Foundation" to help with music education for children in need. He has inspired others such as former big leaguer Reggie Sanders to develop their own charities. In fact, it is hard to network the line of giving that Otis Redding inspired. I am so happy I took the time to listen intently and intensely to Redding's music. Here are five more Otis Redding songs you shouldn't miss.

1. Try a Little Tenderness This 1967 hit ( #4 on the R&B chart) is incredibly moving. This version is from the concert performed the day before Redding died. 2. I've Been Loving You Too Long This live version from Monterey shows why audiences fell in love with Redding. This 1965 hit went to #2 on the Rhythm and Blues charts. 3. Hard to Handle Most people are familiar with The Black Crowes cover of this song written by Otis Redding. Others may be familiar that The Grateful Dead sang this song at many, many 1970's concerts as a tribute to Redding. This version was recorded by Redding during his last recording session and was released posthumously

, going to # 15 on the charts. 4. Respect Again, most people think this is an Aretha Franklin song and certainly her version is worth its salt. The original as written by Redding hit #4 on the R&B charts in 1965. Rolling Stones ranks the song #5 in the top 500 songs of all time. 5. These Arms of Mine A 1964 release, this shows Redding at his most vulnerable, his most passionate. I urge you to check out Otis Redding. His passion will encourage you, his energy will inspire you, his emotion will move you. He was gone too soon, but he lives on forever.

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