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Otis Ray Redding, Jr. (September 9, 1941 December 10, 1967) was an American soul singer. He is renowned for an ability to convey strong emotion through his voice. According to the website of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (where he was inducted in 1989), Redding's name is "synonymous with the term soul, music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm and blues into a form of funky, secular testifying."

Biography

Early life
Redding was born in the small town of Dawson, Georgia. When he was 5, his family moved to Macon, Georgia. Redding sang in the choir at church, and as a teenager won the talent show at the Douglass Theatre for 15 weeks in a row. His early influences were Little Richard and Sam Cooke. Richard Pennyman (Little Richard) was also a Macon resident. Redding said, "If it hadn't been for Little Richard, I would not be here. I entered the music business because of Richard--he is my inspiration. I used to sing like Little Richard, his Rock 'n' Roll stuff, you know. Richard has soul, too. My present music has a lot of him in it."

Career
In 1960, Redding began touring the South with Johnny Jenkins and The Pinetoppers. In addition to singing, Redding also served as Jenkins' driver since the bandleader did not possess a driver's license. That same year he made his first recordings, "Fat Gal" and "Shout Bamalama" with this group under the name "Otis Redding and The Pinetoppers" Issued on the Orbit and Confederate record labels before being picked up by King.

In 1962, Redding made his first real mark in the music business during a Johnny Jenkins session when, during studio time left over, he recorded "These Arms of Mine", a ballad that he had written. The song became a minor hit on Volt Records, a subsidiary of the renowned Southern soul label Stax, based in Memphis, Tennessee. His manager was a fellow Maconite, Phil Walden (who later founded Capricorn Records). Redding was also managed for a brief period by Walden's younger brother Alan Walden while Phil was overseas due to a military draft. Otis Redding continued to release for Stax/Volt, and built his fan base by extensively touring a live show with support from fellow Stax artists Sam & Dave. Further hits between 1964 and 1966 included "Mr. Pitiful", "I Can't Turn You Loose" (which was to become The Blues Brothers entrance theme music), "Try a Little Tenderness" (a remake of the 1930s standard by Harry Woods, Jimmy Campbell, and Reg Connelly, later featured in John Hughes' film Pretty in Pink), "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones), and "Respect" (later a smash hit for Aretha Franklin).

Redding wrote many of his own songs, which was unusual for the time, often with Steve Cropper (of the Stax house band Booker T. & the M.G.'s, who usually served as Otis's backing band in the studio). Soul singer Jerry Butler co-wrote another hit, "I've Been Loving You Too Long". One of Redding's few songs with a significant mainstream following was "Tramp," (1967) a duet with Carla Thomas).

In 1967, Redding performed at the large and influential Monterey Pop Festival. His extraordinary musical gifts were then exposed to a wider audience and may have contributed to his subsequent success as a popular music recording artist.

Death
On December 9, 1967, Redding and his backup band, The Bar-Kays, made an appearance in Cleveland, Ohio on the local "Upbeat" television show. The next afternoon, Redding, his manager, the pilot, and four members of The Bar-Kays were killed when his Beechcraft 18 airplane crashed into Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin, on December 10, 1967. The two remaining Bar-Kays were Ben Cauley and James Alexander. Cauley was the only person aboard Redding's plane to survive the crash. Alexander was on another plane, since there were eight members in Redding's party and the plane could only hold seven, and it was Alexander's turn in the rotation to take a commercial flight. Cauley reported that he had been asleep until just seconds before impact, and recalled that upon waking he saw bandmate Phalon Jones look out a window and say, "Oh, no!" Cauley said the last thing he remembered before the crash was unbuckling his seatbelt. He then found himself in the frigid waters of the lake, grasping a seat cushion to keep afloat.

Redding's body was recovered the next day when the lake bed was searched. He was entombed on his private ranch in Round Oak, Georgia, 23 miles (37 km) north of Macon. The cause of the crash was never precisely determined although it most likely that he drowned.