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Music / Otis Redding

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I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay,
Watchin' the tide roll away, ooh,
I'm just sittin' on the dock of the bay,
Wastin' time.
"(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay"

Otis Ray Redding Jr. (September 9, 1941 – December 10, 1967) was an American Soul singer famous for his distinctive voice and energetic live performances.

Born in Georgia, he was influenced by Gospel Music as well as the output of fellow Georgia native Little Richard, whose raw, emotional vocals he greatly admired. When he came to Stax Records he recorded with the backing of house bands Booker T. and the MG's and the Mar-Kays, often recording songs he had written himself. Redding's songwriting and performing, which combined soul with rock and roll codified southern soul, and he is often credited as the Trope Maker for the Deep Soul subgenre.

Redding, along with most of his band, was killed in a plane crash at the height of his fame, when he was only twenty-six years old. His song "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" went on to be a posthumous hit, and came to be seen as his Signature Song. His music influenced dozens of other artists and earned him the well-deserved title of King of Soul.


Associated Tropes:

  • Bittersweet Ending: Not only did he die a matter of months after his triumphant Monterey Pop Festival performance and Aretha Franklin taking "Respect" to #1, he also died one day before the anniversary of the death of his idol Sam Cooke.
  • Briefer Than They Think: Although he released a lot of material, the main part of his recording career lasted only three years. His posthumous albums account for much of the discrepancy.
  • Celebrities Hang Out in Heaven: "Rock and Roll Heaven" by the Righteous Brothers imagines Redding with several deceased other musicians — including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jim Croce, and Bobby Darin — in Heaven together forming a hell of a band, band, band!
  • Christmas Songs: He recorded memorable versions of "White Christmas" and "Merry Christmas, Baby".
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  • Cover Version: Redding did quite a few covers across several genres — gospel, traditional pop, straight-up blues, Country Music, early funk, and The British Invasion rock — with his most famous probably being the 1930s standard "Try a Little Tenderness", Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" and The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction". His own songs have been subject to a great many covers over the years as well.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: Odd live-only variant; live versions of "Try a Little Tenderness" often featured Redding and the band jumping back into the song after an apparent conclusion.
  • Generation Xerox: The Reddings, featuring his sons Dexter and Otis III, had a few R&B hits in The '80s, including a Cover Version of "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay".
  • Halloween Songs: "Trick or Treat" naturally references the holiday, although the song itself is really more about the narrator asking his girl not to toy with him.
  • Jingle: An appropriately dramatic (or not) take on "Things Go Better With Coke"
  • Let's Duet: An entire duet album with Carla Thomas, King and Queen.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: It went both ways with "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)" (Exactly What It Says on the Tin, but it often sounded quite merry when performed live) and its psuedo-sequel "Happy Song (Dum-Dum)", which was much more melancholic.
    • One of his most exuberant songs opens with the line "Call me Mr. Pitiful".
  • Rockumentary: 2007's Dreams to Remember: The Legacy of Otis Redding.
  • Seduction Lyric: "Hard to Handle" is an upfront seduction in which the singer mostly seems to be offering experience and technical competence.
  • She's Got Legs: From his set at the Monterey Pop Festival:
    Redding: This one goes out to all the miniskirts... I dig.
  • Silly Love Songs: As titles like "Pain In My Heart" and "My Lover's Prayer" make pretty clear, Redding was no stranger to love songs.
  • Source Music: Featured on the TV show Lost
  • Spelling Song: "Respect"
  • Team Dad: Steve Cropper, who worked for Stax Records as a record producer, session guitarist, and A&R director, says that Redding was the Team Dad for every musician involved with Stax Records in spite of his youth, and when he died the company was never quite the same.
  • The Something Song: "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)" and "The Happy Song (Dum-Dum)"
  • Verbal Tic: "Lord, have mercy!"
    • And more famously: gotta, gotta.
  • Very Special Episode: "Stay In School", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.