Welcome to the first installment of Summit Views, our newest blog series.
We will periodically feature figures from history that embody the values that we admire and seek to emulate in our own work and lives. Today, we are featuring legendary musician Otis Redding for his drive, ambition, and long-lasting impact on the history of music.
Summit Strategy Group salutes Otis Redding, born 80 years ago this month in Georgia. Forced to abandon school before 10th grade, Otis helped support his family with menial jobs while playing with gospel groups on Sundays. But the man they would call “Big O” had the clarity to harness romance and raw power and head for the heights.
In Los Angeles by the time he was 19, Otis made his first records, but they led nowhere. Back home in Macon by age 20, Otis recorded a few local singles and focused on becoming an individual artist. While working as the vocalist and driver for guitarist Johnny Jenkins, Otis made it to Memphis’s Stax Studios in 1962. When a Jenkins instrumental recording session ended early, Otis stepped to the microphone to try his emotionally charged composition “These Arms Of Mine” with the studio’s house band, Booker T & the MGs.
"To have a musical force that strong and so physically close affected me," says Booker T. Jones in his autobiography. "There was just so much feeling and power in his delivery."
The ascent to the top had begun.
Over the next five years, the impact of Otis Redding’s records and live performances surmounted systemic barriers and established Soul as America’s sound. When his touring plane went down near Madison, Wisconsin on December 10, 1967, Otis was just 27 years old. His music lived on to reach the highest peaks in music, with the posthumously released “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” reaching number one in January 1968.
All of us at Summit Strategy Group find great inspiration and energy in the life stories of artists like Otis Redding. And we are recruiting others who embody his drive and ambition. Join us.