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Otis Redding

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  • Macon, Georgia, pays tribute to native artist Otis Redding with a life-size statue.

    Macon, Georgia, pays tribute to native artist Otis Redding with a life-size statue. Credit: Mary Ann Bates

  • A star of the soul music genre, Otis Redding was born in Dawson, Georgia.

    A star of the soul music genre, Otis Redding was born in Dawson, Georgia.

  • Otis Redding died tragically and never knew the success of his biggest hit, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay."

    Otis Redding died tragically and never knew the success of his biggest hit, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay."

  • Poster from "The Walking Dead"

    Poster from "The Walking Dead"

  • "Trouble With the Curve" Poster

    "Trouble With the Curve" Poster

Through his gritty, pleading vocals, gospel-inspired shouts and horn-heavy, funky arrangements, Otis Redding virtually defined the genre of soul music. Born in Dawson and then moving to Macon as a boy, Redding first turned heads by repeatedly winning the Teenage Party talent contests at the Douglass Theater. A stint with guitarist Johnny Jenkins’ band followed, which led to a management deal with Phil Walden and a recording contract.

Redding scored a minor hit with "These Arms of Mine," the first of many R&B hits for the Memphis-based Stax record label, where he quickly became a key artist. Working in the studio with Booker T. and the MGs and writing many songs with MGs guitarist Steve Cropper, he established himself as a performer, writer and arranger. Redding scored hits with originals "Mr. Pitiful" and "I Can’t Turn You Loose," as well as covers of "Try A Little Tenderness" and "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction." His song "Respect" later became a defining hit for Aretha Franklin.

Redding, then only 25, delivered a breakthrough performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, which earned him a large mainstream audience. Just six months later, tragedy struck when his plane crashed en route to a show in Madison, Wisconsin. Redding’s biggest hit, "(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay," was released posthumously and later named by BMI as the sixth most performed song of the 20th century. Redding was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1981.