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What was Otis Redding’s Net Worth?
Otis Redding was an American singer-songwriter, record producer, talent scout, and arranger who had a net worth equal to $10 million at the time of his death. Otis was a rare artist at the time because he wrote his own songs and therefore owned his own publishing rights. Those rights and royalties would go on to earn tens of millions of dollars in the decades after his death for his widow Zelma.
Redding is considered to be one of the greatest singers in American pop music history and has had a strong influence on soul and rhythm and blues music. He died in December 1967 in a plane crash at the age of 26.
At 15 years old Redding quit school to help support his family by working with Little Richard’s backing band called the Upsetters. He joined the Pinetoppers in 1958 and got signed to a contract through an unscheduled appearance on a Stax recording session. His debut studio album Pain in My Heart was released in 1964.
Redding released a total of 10 studio albums including five posthumously. His 1965 album Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul reached #1 on the US R&B chart and his 1968 album The Dock of the Bay reached #1 on the US R&B chart and #1 in the UK. Redding’s biggest hit single was “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” which was released posthumously and reached #1 on the US Pop and US R&B charts and #3 in the UK.
Otis also wrote several songs that became massive hits for other artists. Otis wrote Aretha Franklin’s greatest hit “Respect”. Her version became a massive global hit and is considered one of the best songs in music history.
He was received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Otis Redding was born on September 9, 1941 in Dawson, Georgia as the first son of Otis Sr. and Fannie. At the age of three, he moved with his family to a predominantly African-American public housing project in Macon. Redding sang there in the Vineville Baptist Church choir, and also learned piano, guitar, and drums. As a teen, he went to Ballard-Huston High School, where he sang in the school band. Every Sunday, Redding earned some cash singing gospel songs for the local radio station WIBB.
Redding left school at the age of 15 to support his family economically, as his father had contracted tuberculosis and was hospitalized. He had jobs as a well digger and a gasoline station attendant, among others. Redding finally broke into the music scene in 1958, when he competed in a local talent contest and was noticed by prominent local guitarist Johnny Jenkins. Soon, Redding was invited to become the new frontman of the band Pat T. Cake and the Mighty Panthers, of which Jenkins was a part. Following this, Redding joined the Upsetters, the backing band of Little Richard. After a brief stint there, he moved to Los Angeles and recorded his first songs.
In 1963, Redding, his brother Rodgers, and friend and former boxer Sylvester Huckaby went to New York to record a live album for Atlantic Records at the Apollo Theater. The following year, Redding released his debut album, “Pain in My Heart”; it included the hit singles “These Arms of Mine,” “Security,” “That’s What My Heart Needs,” and the title track. In 1965, Redding released “The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads” and “Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul.” The latter was a substantial crossover success, launching the top-40 hit songs “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and “Respect.”
Continued Success in the 60s
Leveraging his growing popularity, Redding performed at the famed Whisky a Go Go on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip. He later returned to the recording studio to create a number of tracks, notably “Try a Little Tenderness,” which had been previously recorded by Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. The song, one of Redding’s most beloved, was featured on his next album, “Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul.” His subsequent release was “King & Queen,” an album of duets between him and Carla Thomas. Redding then traveled to Europe to perform at the Paris Olympia; this resulted in the live album “Otis Redding: Live in Europe.”
In 1967, Redding performed at the Monterey Pop Festival, where his astonishing performance gained him a whole new level of recognition and national acclaim. Later in the year, he returned to the studio to record what would become his most iconic song: “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” Co-written by Steve Cropper, the tune was released in 1968, following Redding’s passing. It became the first-ever posthumous single to top the US charts.
Personal Life and Death
In 1961, Redding wed Zelma Atwood, whom he had met when they were both teenagers. The year before their marriage, they had a son named Dexter. The couple had three more children: Demetria, Karla, and Otis III.
With his band, Redding was traveling to the Factory nightclub in Madison, Wisconsin in December of 1967 when his Beechcraft H18 airplane crashed into Lake Monona, killing almost everyone on board. Other victims of the crash were Bar-Kays members Jimmy King, Ronnie Caldwell, Carl Cunningham, and Phalon Jones, as well as their valet Matthew Kelly and the pilot Richard Fraser. The only survivor was Bar-Kays member Ben Cauley. Redding is interred at his Georgia ranch in Round Oak. In 2007, his widow founded the Otis Redding Foundation to provide music and arts education in Macon.
Posthumous Releases and Honors
In addition to “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” numerous other Redding releases came out posthumously, including the albums “The Dock of the Bay,” “The Immortal Otis Redding,” “Love Man,” and “Tell the Truth.” From these came such successful singles as “Amen,” “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember,” “Love Man,” and “Look at That Girl.” At the Grammy Awards in 1969, Redding won two posthumous awards.
In 1988, Redding was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, and the next year, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This was followed in 1994 by an induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 1999, Redding earned a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Among his other honors, multiple awards are named after Redding, including the Prix Otis Redding, which is given to the best R&B record release. There’s also the Otis Redding Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Ocmulgee River in Macon.
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