Before his tragic death at the age of 26, Otis Redding accomplished more than many of his contemporaries.
The Georgia-born singer built an empire with the Memphis-based Stax Records. His distinct, raspy croon took center stage on some of the label’s most-successful releases, bringing their brand of horn-heavy soul to audiences worldwide. Initially popular with and marketed to Black audiences, Redding found crossover success in the mid-60s, performing with Stax’s notably-integrated Booker T. and the MGs during a legendary set at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and becoming popular with rock-loving White crowds in the process.
His success made him extremely wealthy, enabling him to buy a private airplane; it was in this plane that Redding died on December 10, 1967, during a crash landing in Wisconsin. In the aftermath, Redding became the first artist with a posthmous Billboard Hot 100-topping song: 1968’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay.”
To commemorate Redding’s significant legacy and influence on R&B, here are three of his best-known songs, all of which remain staples (“Respect,” in particular, was reimagined by Aretha Franklin and became her best-known song) well into the present.
Did we miss your favorite Otis Redding track? Let us know in the comments!