Otis Redding

On this day in 1941, legendary R&B singer Otis Redding was born in Dawson,

Ga. Redding, who died tragically in a plane crash, made music that heavily

influences soul musicians to this day.

After dropping out of high school, Redding began singing on a radio talent

show, often doing impressions of Little Richard. Redding soon began

performing with Johnny Jenkins & the Pinetoppers, with whom he made one of

his first records, "She's Alright." After striking out on the L.A. music

scene, Redding moved back to Macon, Ga., where he made a few more

records and played clubs. In 1962, a Redding recording with the

Pinetoppers, "Love Twist," began selling in the South. Redding soon

persuaded the owner of Stax Records to have him cut some solo sides,

including "Hey Hey Baby" and "These Arms of Mine," the latter making it to the R&B top 20 in the U.S. The chart action was enough to establish Redding as

a significant young artist in his own right. He began writing songs with

Booker T. & the MG's guitarist Steve Cropper. Redding's music was highlighted

by his gritty, emotional vocals and frequent use of brass instruments.

More R&B hits followed for Redding, but he didn't see action on the

pop charts until 1965, when "Mr. Pitiful" made #41. "I've Been Loving You

Too Long" was Redding's pop breakthrough, hitting #21. In 1966, he recorded a

cover of the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No)Satisfaction." (The Stones also

covered such Redding staples as "That's How Strong My Love Is" and "Pain in My

Heart.")

Redding took his composition "Respect" to #35 in 1965; that is the same song

that Aretha Franklin hit #1 with two years later. Another big hit for Redding

was a duet with fellow Stax artist Carla Thomas on 1967's "Tramp." After a

highly praised performance at the Monterey Pop Festival that same year,

Redding showed signs of taking off with white music fans. His records were

also charting high in Britain. Redding next recorded the song that became his

musical signature, "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay." But before the song

was released, Redding was killed in a Wisconsin plane crash on Dec. 10,

1967, along with four members of his band, the Bar-Kays.

"(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay" rocketed to #1 on the pop chart in 1968,

a sad reminder of what the future could have held for Redding's music.

Subsequent albums, such as Dock of the Bay (1968) and Love Man

(1969) sold well and "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay" was named Best Male R&B

Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song of 1968 at the Grammy Awards.

Redding also had a #21 posthumous U.S. hit with a cover of James Brown's

"Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Redding was inducted into the Rock and Roll

Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994.

In August, Rhino Records released the 50-track Dreams to Remember: The

Otis Redding Anthology.The collection includes several songs recorded

at the Monterey Pop Festival.

Other birthdays: Inez Foxx, 56; Luther Simmons, Jr. (Main Ingredient), 56; Doug Ingle (Iron

Butterfly), 52; Billy Preston, 52; Dave Stewart (Tourists, Eurythmics), 46; and Kendall Rey Jones (Fishbone), 33.