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Otis Tried Tenderness.

August 25, 2015

Try a Little Tenderness  - Otis Redding

 

Jerry Wexler, the former Atlantic Records Executive and Producer, said, that although he had worked with most of the great Soul Singers of the era, Wilson Pickett, Bobby Womack, etc., in the end, Otis Redding - "The Big O" - was the greatest entertainer.

 

Otis had dropped out of school to work in Little Richard's band, and then became a musician and driver for a group called the Pinetoppers. One day visiting Memphis' STAX Records, there was some open time so he sang a song or two as demos. One thing led to another and everyone who heard the acetates, from Memphis to Atlantic in NYC, realized that he was something special.

 

He was a big man with a sunny disposition. His writing partner on many hits, Steve Cropper, said that the musicians would be lolling around the Studio, but when Otis walked into the room, they were all suddenly energized and ready to rock.

 

In 1967 he played the Whiskey A Go Go in Hollywood and killed, he transitioned from being a soul singer to an increasingly popular pop artist traveling the world. Back in Memphis he and Steve were fooling around with a tune he was working on, "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay," and played for the producers and execs.

 

The general feeling was that it was not the kind of song Otis was successful with, but he and Cropper demanded it be released. Otis left on tour in a plane that he had recently purchased, and Cropper went back and added sea gulls and kept Otis's whistling at the end of the record.

 

Then, at 26, the plane went down in the freezing waters of a Wisconsin Lake, with only one passenger, Ben Cauley of the MarKays, living to tell the tale. "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" was released posthumously and raced up the charts to become his only #1, selling about 4 million, and inspiring countless covers.

 

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