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Born in Dawson GA, but raised in Macon GA, Otis Redding’s hometown heroes included Little Richard and James Brown. “From the time he was a little kid,” recalled his younger brother, Rodgers, “he was singing in a little gospel group in church, and he was a drummer in the school band. Then he started getting into piano and trying to write—oh, around the eighth grade. There was a lady by the name of Gladys Williams who had a band at that time. She would teach him little things, and Otis just loved to get on her piano and do a Little Richard song and steal the show.” He dropped out of Ballad Hudson High School in the tenth grade to help at home due to his father’s illness, and went on to work with Little Richard's former band, the Upsetters. He sent home $25 a week to help his family.
His recognition came from local talent shows, particularly The Teenage Party at the Douglass Theater downtown run by Gladys Williams. After winning 15 times straight, Redding was no longer allowed to compete. His style was not that of flamboyant showmanship, but that of sincerity and a desire to inspire belief in each audience member. He was, according to Jerry Wexler, “a pure man,” a natural man, not only in his music but in his life, clear on what he wanted as much as anything because he never tried to lose his rural roots.
It was in a recording session that his style was born when he sang his own ballad, “These Arms Of Mine.” He was the chief inspiration behind STAX Records in Memphis with three Top 10 hits on Billboard’s R&B charts and a fourth and fifth that figured in the Top 20 in 1965. He produced other singers and the more he learned about the music business, the more confident he became in polishing his own unique sound. Redding was solidly crowned as a Rock & Roll dignitary when he returned with the legendary Stax/Volt Revue in 1967 and displaced Elvis Presley in Melody Maker’s poll as the Number-One Male Vocalist in the world.
Otis Redding insisted that he was soul and country too. He crafted his own niche in Rock & Roll with an R&B and Soul blend that appealed to both blacks and whites. His spontaneous, aching voice had a drive and rhythmic focus that was simultaneously vulnerable and raw.
As the result of a throat operation in 1967, Redding was forced into silence for several months, but he used the time to compose. Redding had started his own record company with Phil Walden and once his voice returned, he recorded over thirty new songs in over two weeks. Just three days prior to his tragic death, he recorded what was to become his successful single, "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay."
Otis Redding was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
A flamboyant singer, pianist and self-proclaimed 'architect of rock and roll' whose hit songs of the mid-1950s were defining moments in the development of rock and roll genre.
The Beatles John Lennon said “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.” Rolling Stone's Dave Marsh: "Chuck Berry is to rock what Louis Armstrong was to jazz."
Songwriter, singer and brilliant guitar player entered music wrapped up in the Blues, then was captivated by R&B and took Rock & Roll by the nape of his guitar and catapulted it forward.
Their continued openness to world culture music influences resonated with new generations. Their music is a classic example of music recognized and emulated globally.
He crafted his own niche in Rock & Roll with an R&B and Soul blend. His spontaneous, aching voice had a drive and rhythmic focus that was simultaneously vulnerable and raw.
Richards’s idol, Chuck Berry, provided basic musical compass points for the guitarist. Newsweek later called Richards’s signature "Satisfaction" guitar riff "five notes that shook the world."
Along with his trademark rectangle-shaped guitar, dark glasses and black hat, the distinctive ‘Bo Diddley’ sound became a model for fast-paced, driving beat that is identified with Rock & Roll.
This member of the first group of inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and pioneer of rock and roll experienced success that lasted only a year and a half.
Lenny Kravitz is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, actor and arranger whose sound pulls from elements of rock, soul, R&B, funk, reggae, hard rock, psychedelic, folk and ballads.
National Museum of African American Music
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The National Museum of African American Music will stand as an international iconic cultural museum dedicated to the vast contributions African Americans have made in music.