Sunday, December 10, 2017

Otis Redding 50 years on

I have a 'pain in my heart' remembering Otis Redding on the 50th anniversary of his death. When Sam Cooke died in 1964 it was Otis who carried the flame so far as I was concerned, and it was his first UK 45 Pain In My Heart that first made an impact on me. His upbeat songs were great, but his slower ones were even better. Tracks like I've Been Loving You Too Long, My Lover's Prayer, Try A Little Tenderness, The Glory of Love and I've Got Dreams To Remember are achingly beautiful. There was no one quite like Otis, and Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay, despite me having heard it countless times, still has an impact.
I remember, of course, his TV appearances, on Ready Steady Go for example, but I treasure the memory of seeing him in 1967 on the Stax/Volt show at the Fairfield Hall, Croydon. I wrote at the time, in my review for the local paper: 'Suddenly there was Otis, doing his jigging routine on numbers like Mr Pitiful, Satisfaction and Shake. I could hear little because of the noise from the backing group and the crowd. It wasn't until he sang a couple of slow numbers, My Girl and I've Been Loving You Too Long, that I became really enthusiastic. On these, particularly the latter, he was brilliant. If anyone did not know before, they certainly knew then what soul music is all about. The climax of his act was Try A Little Tenderness, which started very slowly but became wilder and wilder.' 
Two years ago I visited Otis's home town of Gray, a few miles from Macon, Georgia. There's a plaque in Gray and a statue in a park in Macon. There's also a small museum in Macon dedicated to his memory. Here are some photos.


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