75 years ago today, soulful singer Otis Redding was born. At 15, he quit school to work in music and support his parents in Macon, Georgia. Three days before his tragic death in a plane crash at age 26, he recorded the iconic song, (Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay,’ which shot to #1 on the charts. The year prior, he released ‘Try a Little Tenderness,’ the song that epitomizes his signature sound. He also wrote ‘Respect,’ and had a major influence on Aretha Franklin. WATCH him perform Tenderness LIVE… (1941)
His bandmate and co-writer on Dock of the Bay, Steve Cropper, said, “I don’t think anybody I’ve ever worked with had the impact that Otis Redding did. He was the only artist on the label that everybody–all the musicians, all the secretaries, all the employees–looked forward to seeing at the studio. Otis was your best friend when he was with you and he made you feel wanted, needed and all that.”
Artists from many genres have named Redding as a musical influence. George Harrison called “Respect” an inspiration for “Drive My Car”. The Rolling Stones mentioned Redding as a major influence, as well as Led Zeppelin, Grateful Dead, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Doors, and virtually every soul and R&B musician from the early years, including Al Green, Etta James, William Bell, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Conley. Musicians have covered or mixed his songs, notably Kanye West and Jay-Z in their Grammy winning song “Otis”. Janis Joplin was inspired by his singing style, saying she learned “to push a song instead of just sliding over it” after hearing him.
Redding’s descendants are planning a 75th birthday concert and other activities near Macon this weekend.
MORE Good News on this Day:
- Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time (1956)
- The first civil rights bill was signed into law by US President Dwight Eisenhower (1957)
- The British Ambassador, Geoffrey Jackson, was freed 8 months after capture by guerrillas in Uruguay (1971)
- Tajikistan gained Independence from USSR (1991)
- The Palestine Liberation Organization agreed to recognize Israel‘s right to exist, and Israel agreed to recognize the PLO as representative of Palestinians (1993)
- Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army’s political arm, formally renounced violence as it took its place in talks on Northern Ireland’s future (1997)
And on this day in 1890, Colonel Sanders of KFC fame was born. Harland David Sanders began selling fried chicken from his roadside restaurant in North Corbin, Kentucky, during the Great Depression. Commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel by the governor, he had a “Secret Recipe” for frying chicken in a pressure fryer, which cut cooking times. He recognized the potential of the restaurant franchising concept, and, with a product that evoked the imagery of Southern hospitality, the first KFC franchise opened in Utah in 1952. At age 65, Sanders had little money so decided to search for new franchisees, often sleeping in the back of his car as he traveled the country. Sanders later used his stock holdings to create the Colonel Harland Sanders Trust and Charitable Organization, which used the proceeds to aid charities and fund scholarships.