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Otis Redding

Otis Redding's untimely death in a plane crash in 1967, just months after he'd blown away the crowd at the Monterey Pop festival, has launched one of the music world's favorite what-if exercises. Redding had just recorded "(Sittin On) The Dock of the Bay," but didn't live to see its huge success, or to answer all the questions about how far he might have gone. Born a preacher's son in Georgia, Redding sang in the church choir before going into secular music; while working as a roadie with a local band that was recording in the Stax studio, he used up some of the band's studio time to make some demos of his own. The studio executives liked what they heard, and lost no time about signing him. Redding, who wrote most of his own material, soon had hit after hit on the soul charts; the Rolling Stones recorded two of his songs, "That's How Strong My Love Is" and "Pain in My Heart," and he returned the favor by recording "Satisfaction." Until the Monterey Pop concert, and the posthumous success of "Dock," Redding had been unable to reach a wider pop audience; it seems certain that had he lived, we would have had a lot more great music from him.

Written by: Mary Eisenhart

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