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Today would have been Otis Redding’s 80th birthday

Elaine Mayes/Getty Images

The late Otis Redding was born 80 years ago today. The soul legend was just 26-years-old when he was killed in a plane crash on December 10, 1967.

Born in Dawson, Georgia, and raised in Macon, Redding sang gospel at an early age and was inspired by his love of Sam Cooke and Little Richard to become a soul singer.

Redding was signed to Stax Records in 1962. His first single for the famed Memphis, Tennessee, label was the original song “This Heart of Mine” that reached #20 on Billboard‘s R&B singles chart.

Over the next couple of years, Otis scored a series of big R&B hits.

Redding’s first hits on the Billboard Hot 100 came in 1965 with the ballad “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and the soul rave-up “Respect,” which peaked at #21 and #35, respectively. The latter tune later became Aretha Franklin‘s signature song after she covered it in 1967.

Otis continued to enjoy crossover success in 1966 and ’67 with hits that included “Try a Little Tenderness.”

Also in 1967, two duets that Redding recorded with Carla Thomas, “Tramp” and “Knock on Wood,” reached the Hot 100’s top 30.

Otis’ dynamic performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop festival would bring him more acclaim and attention.

On December 7, 1967, three days before his death, Redding finished recording “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay,” a song he’d co-written with his guitarist and frequent collaborator, Steve Cropper.

In March ’68, “The Dock of the Bay” became the first posthumous song to hit #1 on the Hot 100.

Redding was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

As previously reported, “Otis Redding Day” will be proclaimed in Georgia today in honor of Redding’s milestone birthday.

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