From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Otis Ray Redding, Jr. (September 9, 1941 - December 10, 1967) was an influential American deep soul singer, probably best known for his posthumous hit single, "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay." According to the website of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (where he was inducted in 1989), Redding's name is "synonymous with the term soul, music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of funky, secular testifying."
In 1960, Redding began touring the South with Johnny Jenkins and The Pinetoppers, primarily as the group's driver. That same year he made his first recordings, "She's All Right" and "Shout Bamalama" with this group under the name "Otis and The Shooters".
In 1962, Redding made his first real mark in the music business during a Johnny Jenkins session when, during studio time left over, he recorded "These Arms of Mine", a ballad that he had written. The song became a minor hit on Volt Records, a subsidiary of the renowned Southern soul label Stax, based in Memphis, Tennessee. His manager was a fellow Maconite, Phil Walden (who later founded Capricorn Records). Otis Redding continued to release for Stax/Volt, and built his fan base by extensively touring a live show with support from fellow Stax artists Sam & Dave. Further hits between 1964 and 1966 included "Mr. Pitiful", "I Can't Turn You Loose" (which was to become The Blues Brothers entrance theme music), "Try a Little Tenderness" (a remake of the 1930s standard by Harry Woods, Jimmy Campbell, and Reg Connelly, later featured in John Hughes' film Pretty in Pink), "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones), and "Respect" (later a smash hit for Aretha Franklin).
Redding wrote many of his own songs, which was unusual for the time, often with Steve Cropper (of the Stax house band Booker T. & the M.G.'s, who usually served as Otis's backing band in the studio). Soul singer Jerry Butler co-wrote another hit, "I've Been Loving You Too Long". One of Redding's few songs with a significant mainstream following was "Tramp" (1967) (a duet with Carla Thomas).
In 1967 Redding played at the Monterey Pop Festival, which helped him to break into the white pop music scene.