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Had he lived, The King Of Soul, Otis Redding, would have been 75 on 9 September 2016. To honour his memory, an all-star event featuring band colleagues Steve Cropper and Eddie Floyd, and like-minded artists Chuck Leavell, St Paul & The Broken Bones and others, gathered for An Evening Of Respect: A Musical Tribute Concert at the Macon City Auditorium, in Georgia, on 12 September. It was the culmination of a strong if events, including Otis Redding Day, a film and photographic exhibition, and related affairs that accentuate the esteem in which Redding is still held, though he died almost 50 years ago, in December 1967.

The man who epitomised the sound of Stax Records, and who brought soul music from the southern states to Europe and beyond, will forever be associated with ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay’, whose posthumous release and worldwide success underlined a talent without equal in his own musical sphere. A Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into both the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and the Songwriters Hall Of Fame are further testimony to not only the grief, but also the affection in which Otis was – and still is – held.

His other signature tunes are many, but ‘Respect’ and ‘Try A Little Tenderness’ are evergreens, while a necessarily brief but marvellous album discography released during his lifetime, including 1966’s Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary Of Soul – where you’ll find his electrifying and audacious version of The Beatles’ ‘Day Tripper’ – has been lovingly expanded by a sequence of vintage live performances and dozens of compilation packages, at least two of which have gone platinum. Further adding this to illustrious pile is Live At The Whiskey A Go Go: The Complete Recordings, a 6CD document of the seven sweat-drenched sets that he played, across a mere three days, at the iconic Los Angeles venue.

The posthumous Dock Of The Bay album itself became the first such recording to hit No.1 on both sides of the Atlantic. Indeed, so loved was Otis in the UK that Melody Maker readers voted him top vocalist of 1967, breaking Elvis Presley’s 10-year streak. Secular and spiritual at once, Redding’s appeal is emotionally universal, his voice crossing borders and hitting the heart.

The Beatles were avid fans (George Harrison’s playing on ‘Drive My Car’ was influenced by ‘Respect’), while swathes of Rubber Soul (note the punning title) and Revolver were impacted by Otis, notably Paul McCartney’s ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’. The Fabs sent a limousine to pick Redding’s entourage up from London Airport in April ’66; Bob Dylan offered him an alternative version of ‘Just Like A Woman’.

Other artistes who have immersed themselves in Redding’s soul include The Doors (whose Soft Parade track ‘Runnin’ Blue’ name-checked the man), The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers Band and Janis Joplin from the wider rock world; from the R&B planet you’ll hear his magic addressed by Al Green, Etta James and Marvin Gaye. Redding wowed the fans at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and created mayhem when he appeared at the Fillmore West, where venue owner Bill Graham avowed: “That was the greatest show I ever put on in my entire life.” In more modern times, Kanye West and Jay Z won a Grammy for their tribute song ‘Otis’. His legacy keeps on giving…

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Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul
Otis Redding - Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul
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The Dock Of The Bay
Otis Redding - The Dock Of The Bay
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Pain In My Heart
Otis Redding - Pain In My Heart
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The Soul Album
Otis Redding - The Soul Album
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King And Queen
Otis Redding - King And Queen
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The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads
Otis Redding - The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads
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Love Man
Otis Redding - Love Man
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In Person At The Whisky A Go Go
Otis Redding - In Person At The Whisky A Go Go
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Tell The Truth
Otis Redding - Tell The Truth
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