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Fifty years ago, the world lost a legend.

Otis Redding's influence as a singer and spirit of soul music remains to this day. The following is a commemoration to his life and musical legacy.


Part 01

Early Years

I used to sing like Little Richard, his Rock 'n' Roll stuff... My present music has a lot of him in it.

Otis Redding
  • Vineville Babtists Church
  • Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers
  • Douglass Theater
  1. Redding began his career as a singer and musician in the choir of the Vineville Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia.
  2. After winning 15 times straight in the Douglass Theatre talent shows, he was no longer allowed to compete.
  3. He then joined Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers in 1958 as a singer.
Shout Bamalama
Second Single

Shout Bamalama & Fat Gal


Part 02

Rise to Fame

Everybody was fixin' to go home, but Joe Galkin insisted we give Otis a listen. There was something different about [the ballad]. He really poured his soul into it.

Jim Stewart
  1. Otis drove Johnny Jenkins to Stax Records in Memphis, TN in 1962. After an unimpressive recording by Johnny, Otis seized the opportunity and sung what became "These Arms Of Mine".
  2. In November 1963, Redding traveled to New York to perform at the Apollo Theater for the recording of a live album for Atlantic Records.
  3. He ignited the crowd at the Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of 1967, thus introducing him to white rock fans.

Part 03

Dock of the Bay

I left my home in Georgia, headed for the 'Frisco bay

Otis Redding
  • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band album
  • Plane crash
  • The Dock of the Bay Album
  1. Redding was inspired by the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and tried to create a similar sound.
  2. "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" was originally recorded without a final verse, so Redding whistled as a placeholder until he could finish later.
  3. Redding's plane went down in frigid waters outside of Madison, Wisconsin on December 9, 1967. Seven of the eight passengers died, including Redding. The cause of the crash was never determined.

The song would become history’s first posthumous #1 hit and the biggest pop hit of Redding’s career.

The Dock of the Bay
The Hit

The Dock of the Bay


Part 04


Virtually every pop, rock, R&B, hip-hop, jazz, or country singer who has come after – whether they know it or not – has been shaped by this synthesis.

Jonathan Gould
  1. Florence and the Machine performing at MTV Unplugged in 2012.
  2. Justin Timberlake performs "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" with Steve Cropper at the Whitehouse.
  3. Jay-Z and Kanye West's music video titled 'Otis ft. Otis Redding', which was released on the Watch the Throne album in 2011.


Various tracks and covers inspired by Redding or from the man himself.

View playlist on Spotify


Otis Ray Redding, Jr.

September 09, 1941 – December 10, 1967