It was when he agreed to drive his friend Johnny Jenkins to a recording session at Stax Studios in Memphis that his life changed. Jenkins’s session fell flat, and Redding convinced the producers to let him have a turn. He sang “These Arms of Mine.” Jim Stewart, the studio chief, said: “There was something different about [the ballad]. He really poured his soul into it.” The song was released in 1962 and sold more than 800,000 copies.
Otis Redding recorded six albums during the 1960s. He became so successful that he bought a 300-acre ranch in Georgia and named it “Mr. Pitiful” after one of his ballads. He owned 200 suits and 400 pairs of shoes and when he performed at the Monterey Pop Festival during the Summer of Love (1967), Janis Joplin introduced him by saying, “This is God that’s coming on stage here.”
He wrote one of his most famous songs, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” after listening to the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He added a distinctive whistle at the end. Three days after recording the song, Otis Redding died (1967) when his plane crashed outside Madison, Wisconsin. He was 26 years old. Some 4,500 people came to his funeral. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” was released after his death and sold over a million copies.