Documentary about soul singer Otis Redding, featuring his 1967 tour of Britain, his subsequent success in America at the Monterey Festival, and his posthumous hit Dock of the Bay.
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AUDIENCE: Otis! Otis! Otis!
# With you my life
# Has been so wonderful...
# ..I can't stop now. #
Otis Redding was the ultimate soul voice of the American South.
But he'd had to fight for recognition.
I feared no man when I travelled with Otis Redding.
I feared no man as long as he was by my side. No matter where we were.
When we came to the UK, and Otis felt it,
because he had been through hell,
he was treated like a human being.
Otis discovered a new self-confidence
when he toured Europe in 1967.
It would change his life and music and inspire those who saw him.
When he came over to England,
I just stood in the wings watching him, you know,
and just picking up pointers, because he had a style.
It was "Road to Damascus" for me.
The whole evening blew me away.
That's really when I decided that this is what I wanted to do.
In the early days, I would always try and sound like Otis
and in doing so, that developed the voice that has become my own.
Like all great singers,
you always think they are singing for you and just you alone.
# ..more than words can say, baby I get lost... #
AUDIENCE: Otis! Otis! Otis!
In 1965, before he had even arrived in the UK,
Otis's records had gained an almost tribal loyalty
among some British teenagers.
# What you want Honey, you've got it
# And what you need Baby, you've got it... #
Most of the dances would have been termed,
in the modern world, as mods or modernists.
They were very interested in anything that was R&B
and, of course, they always had the best rhythms to dance to.
# All I'm asking
# Is for a little respect When I come home. #
It was a very cool thing to dance to Otis records.
I think Britons were anoraks when it came to soul music.
A lot of soul musicians and artists were more popular over here
than they were in their own country. They had a bigger following.
Those kids were fanatics. They knew their stuff.
They really knew their stuff.
There's the Otis Redding type of soul coming out and that time was priceless.
It was peerless. It has never been bettered.
But his record covers at that time didn't feature Otis.
So his British fans neither knew what he looked like nor where he came from.
# Down in the valley... #
Neither did Otis know anything about his mod fans in Britain.
That same year, he was busy travelling America's Deep South
with his Otis Redding Orchestra,
expanding their loyal black fan base.
It was a time of segregation and prejudice.
# ..Now can't you hear the wind blow
# My love? #
I feared no man when I travelled with Otis Redding because I knew
that Otis Redding was one of the best fist slingers there was around.
If you ever saw him in action,
you would wonder why he didn't pursue a fighting career
because he was very, very good at it.
He was an overcomer.
He did not allow anything to stop him.
He did not allow anything to throw him off from his pursuit.
He did not believe in, "It can't be done."
But Otis had this lovable personality.
Even if you were a prejudiced white person,
you probably ended up having respect for him when you walked away
because he was that good at handling people.
I looked at Otis as an older brother.
I always just assumed he was older than me
because he was so much more streetwise and he was a big man.
He was six foot four. I was six even. He kind of towered over me.
You really had to push him up against the wall
and force him to get into any type of fight.
But if you did, you would get a whipping that you would remember for the rest of your life.
# I love you, baby Yes I do
# Hip shakin' mama I told you... #
The black clubs of the so-called Chitlin' Circuit
were a tough testing ground for the rough edged 23-year-old from Georgia.
# ..Let me hear you
# Got to keep holdin' on
# Never going to turn you loose
# Got to keep a grip on you Babe
# I can't turn you loose now
# I'm in love with the prettiest thing
# I'll never never turn you loose now
# Because joy and true love you can bring me
# I can't turn you loose to nobody
# I love you Baby, yes I do
# Hip shakin' mama I told you
# I'm in love with only you
# Honey, baby Do it, baby, why don't you?
# I want to give you everything that you want
# Got to keep holdin' on
# I'm never going to turn you loose
# Got to keep a grip on you, baby... #
By now, people were aware of who Otis Redding was as a vocalist.
If you took a little of Sam Cooke and a little of Little Richard
and poured it in a jar and shook it up and pour it out, you'd get Otis Redding.
He could croon ballads just like Sam Cooke and he could scream
and jump around with all the energy of Little Richard.
That's what he had. He had that roughness and he had that real softness too.
# Oh, yeah
# It's all right... #
Just like his hero, Little Richard,
Otis was living in the small southern city of Macon in Georgia.
# ..You know that little girl
# She's so fine
# I'd like to make her mine All mine. #
Macon was a mixture of the devil's playground
and, at least on Sundays, the Lord's stomping ground.
His father was a minister. They were brought up in the church.
Of course, I didn't know Otis then.
So he had a strong religious background
because he had to go to church every Sunday, he had to sing in the choir.
You know, he was that little boy who went to Sunday school every day.
So he always knew that God was on his side
because he was raised that way.
He loved to talk about the church
and how he used to sing in the church as a boy.
I sang spiritual songs in my father's church from the age of about seven
up until I was grown and then I started singing rhythm and blues.
It's the most important part of my life.
My background is the most important part.
In order to sing the blues, you've got to feel it
so it all comes from the heart.
We met with him performing locally at a theatre
on Saturday mornings in a talent contest.
# Down in Alabama
# I'm shouting Bamalama
# Down in Louisiana
# Well nobody's going to set him down... #
His father, he didn't want him singing rock 'n' roll,
but Otis bought his father a brand-new Ford when his father was preaching
and Otis had started having real success.
He wanted his daddy to be proud of him.
I don't think his daddy ever saw him perform.
But he believed in himself.
He was very flamboyant, very sure of himself.
So we got married in August 1961 and at that time,
my eldest son was nine months old.
# If you want it
# You can get it... #
Otis Redding always believed he could do anything that he wanted to do.
He wanted to always prove to himself, "I can do this."
And his dream as a boy when we met was, "One day I'm going to be rich."
I said, "Whatever. You just need to get a job and let's get a life here."
# If you want it You can get it... #
So the 19-year-old took a string of low-paid jobs,
starting as a pump attendant.
# ..If you want it. #
Otis was known to keep a job a week.
Long enough to get one pay cheque.
But he knew from a very early age that he wanted to be a singer.
And that was the only thing he wanted to be.
-What did you do before you sang?
-I used to be a well driller.
-A water well type thing?
-No, not oil.
I didn't have that much experience. I did water wells.
How did you get to be a singer from being a well driller?
I was taking a friend of mine to Memphis, Tennessee,
to record a record.
His name was Johnny Jenkins. And I took him up there.
They paid me to take him. I think they paid me about 10 to take him up there.
-Just hired you as a driver or something?
-Yes, to drive him up there.
After he finished the session,
I asked them to let me do a song called These Arms Are Mine.
The record came out and it was a pretty big record.
-So the driver got the hit out of the session?
-Right! That was it!
# These arms of mine
# They are lonely... #
This soulful ballad, borrowed from Johnny Jenkins,
became Otis's first big hit among R&B fans.
# ..These arms of mine
# They are yearning
# Yearning from wanting you. #
A discovery had been made.
It was like, I guess, you know, if a miner is sifting through dirt
and he sees a diamond, he's changed.
It's never going to be the same again.
But the success of Otis's early recordings
was still mostly limited to the black population of the South
and he would struggle to cross over during the next four years.
During that time, all his songs would be recorded in a musical oasis
deep within the racial turmoil of the South.
Stax Records in Memphis.
When you walked through the doors of Stax in the morning,
it was much like walking into church.
There's a feeling of calmness and a feeling of safety.
You just feel protected.
We were integrated here at Stax from the very beginning.
Outside the door was racism, but we had our oasis internally.
We didn't see any more than what was on TV.
We knew what was going on, but it did not happen at Stax.
There was no colour at Stax. Period.
You'd have me, Al Jackson and any of the African Americans,
we'd have to go back to our communities and hear what we heard there.
But then you'd have Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn,
they'd have to go back to their communities and be called nigger lovers and all of that.
But we'd still come here integrated in the bowels of segregation.
They were drinking out of the same bottle,
passing the bottle around the room.
To me, that was something I had never witnessed ever in my life.
It was just taboo at that time.
A convergence of that many strong energies creates something new.
It seemed like we were infused with a togetherness.
When we walked in the door, we became a unit.
# Old man trouble
# Leave me alone... #
And it was nice. You could relax and enjoy it.
The music was great. It was a privilege.
# ..I live my life in doubt you see now. #
Stay in on the mic now, Steve.
An almost intuitive songwriting partnership had developed
between Otis and his studio band, the MGs.
In particular, with guitarist Steve Cropper.
Otis kept trying to tell me a horn line that he wanted
and he was going, "Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa. I want fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa."
So his sound of the saxophone was that breath on the reed.
And I said, "There might be a song in that."
# Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa. #
# Your turn
# Our turn
# Your turn... #
# Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa. #
"Y'alls turn." He'd say, "It's your turn," and we'd play.
And that's what we played back to him.
# Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa. #
The horns, everybody pitched in.
There's no question about the teamwork that was involved with recording those songs.
He communicated with us with his fists and his body
and he would sing parts.
And we communicated with him by understanding
and playing musically what he was saying.
# It's a lovely song
# Sweet music, honey
# It's just a line
# But it tells a story
# You've got to get the message
# A strong message, honey
# A lovely line, baby
# I'm worried in mind, watch me... #
# Your turn
# Everybody's turn
# One more time
# Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa. #
Otis enjoyed a flow of hits into the R&B charts.
But neither his managers, Phil and Alan Waldon, nor Stax, had cracked the pop market
despite their links with powerful Atlantic Records.
So they turned their attention to the packaging.
The problem was, in America with the racism there,
to put that black male on the cover
would turn off everybody from radio to consumers.
So let's find attractive girls and put the girls on the cover
because that kind of minimises that problem
when you hear the music and you're looking at this beautiful girl
and hearing Otis sing like he's singing to these women.
He thought it would be easier, and it was,
to get product positioned in store and get it sold in the marketplace.
# Draw back your bow... #
Stax were also testing the marketplace on the other side
of the Atlantic where their girly covers helped get the music
to a youth market hungry for the authentic sounds of the Deep South.
When the albums came out, he wasn't on them which was rather odd,
but that was a strange marketing thing from a lot of American companies in those days,
is not to have a black man on the cover of your record.
But Otis Blue was a major breakthrough.
It really broadened the market for his music.
Are there any pop songs whose words are really good and mean a lot to you,
that are, say, very sincere?
Otis Redding, My Girl. He sort of sings about something in particular.
That's why we like coloured singers because their voices are so pure.
# I've got sunshine
# On a cloudy day
# And it's cold outside
# I've got the month of May. #
The children of the '60s loved that black American sound.
Otis sang as if his heart was in his throat
and that little torn part just pulled at your heartstrings.
I think you could totally relate to him.
He was a professor. He had got a degree in knowing how to cut it.
The first time I heard Otis, I was going out with a girl called...
What was her name now? Bloody hell! Jenny Rylands.
And she lived in Notting Hill Gate
and she was given the Otis Blue album.
It was amazing.
Otis appealed to me because, especially as a recorder,
because it always sounded like it was one take.
The first or the second take, they would use.
You knew Otis Redding's records.
I mean, the way he did them, you knew them.
You didn't guess on who was it. It was Otis.
# I don't know much about my history... #
Despite the fact that Otis was gaining an ever broader fan base,
the only chance of hearing him on the airwaves was to tune into
the pirate radioships, which got their records straight from Stax.
We couldn't get our music played on the BBC
and it was the pirates offshore, whom I was in contact with,
that was playing and popularising Otis Redding.
So amongst the real music lovers, Otis Redding had a fan base.
# I don't know much about geography
# Don't know much about trigonometry... #
When Al Bell and Stax got hear of Otis's devoted following,
they sent him to Britain to test the waters.
Why is soul music the biggest thing there is in England now, in your opinion?
Actually, I think the English kids want to get more of the rhythm and blues music.
They've heard a lot of the English music
and I think they want to make a little change or something
and hear some of the soul music.
The audience tuning in to Ready, Steady, Go!
were astonished to see Otis in the flesh.
This whole show would become his tribute
to the British Beat scene.
# I can't turn you lose now
# If I do I'm gonna loose my life
# Ooh, I can't never turn you lose now
# If I do I'm gonna loose my life
# Well, I can't turn you lose to nobody
# I love you, baby, yes I do
# Oh, baby, hip shakin' mama I told you
# I'm in love with only you
# Honey, babe you do it, baby, don't ya?
# I wanna give you everything that you want
# Let me hear you... #
Well, it was the height of the mods, those days,
and it was a mod audience.
When the camera sweeps around
it's all mods doing their little mod dances, you know,
show their mum and dads that they were there.
Every song was suddenly played at breakneck speed.
The dancers had to dance much harder than they had during rehearsals.
It was like suddenly the whole show was on purple hearts, it was great!
# Everybody give a little
# Girl, you got soul now... #
I wanted to see Otis Redding.
And I did, so I went backstage and we had a picture taken together.
There is a picture of us both.
And then he said to me, that first record that I made, you know,
he said, "Your first album,"
he said, "Every track was a single on there."
I said, "Oh, thank you very much."
You know, coming from Otis Redding. Unbelievable.
# Just shake
# That's the way you do it, now Shake
# Doggone-gone, baby, now Shake! #
Otis was familiar with the young singers
who had helped spearhead the recent British invasion of the States.
He invited two of the best to join him on TV.
# If you do it, do it right, yeah
# Whoa, we're going to shake tonight, yeah... #
That was the first time that I'd sung that song
and I can tell it's really a nervous me that I see on videotape.
It makes me wince. Wish I'd had a chance to rehearse the thing.
But I can't say enough about his performance
and about the effect that his voice had on me.
# I feel all right
# Feel all right, Eric
# I feel so right
# Feel all right, Chris
# Feel all right
-# Feel pretty good, y'all
-Feel all right! #
He was amazed that a white young guy
could be standing up onstage singing that sort of stuff.
# Everybody, one more time! #
And I couldn't ask for anything more in the world than to be asked
to be on stage with him and sing.
We'd like to bring on the star of the show,
he's going to knock us all out and do a really fantastic number.
Here he is, dear Otis, with Pain In My Heart.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
# Pain in my heart
# Treating me cold
# Where can my baby be?
# Lord, no-one knows... #
Otis's British following was no longer limited
to anoraks who bought rare 45s, and his appeal to the ladies
was opening a whole new market that Stax was quick to exploit.
# Lord, where can she be? #
Because when you attract the female, it brings the male along,
so, yes, the target was the female audience.
That was the majority purchaser of the music.
And that's who hollered and screamed on stage,
and if you got the women in, the guys would be beating a path
to the door to come to that performance!
So, yes, females!
Yes, females! Yes, females!
Otis would have women right in front of the stage
begging him to just touch him, just touch him.
I saw women standing there and crying throughout the whole song,
"Touch me, Otis. Touch me, Otis."
And Otis would just keep on singing.
# Call me the love man... #
Back in the States, Otis's female fans were equally enthusiastic.
# ..That's what they call me I'm a love man... #
Unless they get way out of line,
I have no problem with it, with what was going on.
You got a nice-looking husband and he looks good
and nobody wants him but you, you got a problem.
He looked too good for somebody to say,
"Well, I don't want Otis Redding."
Good-looking man. Very good-looking.
# How can I explain to you? #
Otis Redding would sing so pitiful and so pleading to the women,
he knew how to beg the women and make 'em feel good about him.
# Mr Pitiful
# That's my name now
# They call me Mr Pitiful
# And that's how I got my fame
# But people just don't understand now
# What would make a man sing such a sad song
# Ooh, when you've lost everything
# When they've lost everything that he's had
# Gotta explain to you!
# Everything's going wrong
# I've lost everything I had
# I've got to sing these sad songs
# To get back to her
# And I want you And I want you
# And I want you
# And I want you... #
The women definitely loved Otis to no end.
He was Mr Sex Appeal out there on the road.
I was not the wife that always wanted to be on the road
or always in the way.
I was the wife who wanted to be there
to do what he wants me to do with the kids, take care of the home.
Otis had celebrated his success with a fine new ranch outside of Macon.
# I keep loving you... #
Just being on the ranch, when he was home, it was just like magic
because Mom was very rigid, structured,
very much a disciplinarian,
where my father was,
"Run through the house, have fun,
"just as long as you guys don't fight.
"Do whatever you need to do."
You know, he wanted to be a real farmer,
and his dream was to do that, and he did it.
-What you call me?!
# You don't wear continental clothes or Stetson hats! #
Such was his celebrity by 1967
that Otis filmed a jokey promo as a laid-back farm hand.
Otis dutifully stayed humble.
He would be quick to pick up his own bag or...
he wasn't looking for someone to bring him a glass of water or...
He stayed down low with his music and with his attitude.
And so, he immediately became a king.
# Remember me
# Don't ever forget me, child... #
But Otis became king of the road when he left his family
four days a week to play to his adoring soul fans.
And every time Otis Redding left off that ranch
and went through that gate, one thing I knew,
he loves Zelma, he loves his kids, his family, he's coming back.
He's not going anywhere.
He would call constantly.
Whenever, just constantly, "What are y'all doing? Where are the kids?
"Let me speak to the kids. What did they eat? Are you OK?"
And Mom would be like, "I wish he would stop calling me!"
So, you know, I just...
and I sit and I listen to certain lyrics
and certain notes, and it just seems like their relationship.
It almost seems like a storybook,
like a love story of what they were going through.
# Now it might be
# A little bit sentimental No, no, no
# But she has her grief and care
# Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
# But the soft words They are spoke so gentle
# Yeah, yeah, yeah
# And it makes it easy
# Easier to bear
# Oh, she won't regret it No, no... #
Otis was also romancing club-goers across the South.
Among his biggest hits was an old Songbook classic
that he'd made his own, Try A Little Tenderness.
# But it's all so easy
# All you've got to do is try
# Try a little tenderness, yeah
# Tell me, huh
# All you've got to do is know how to love her
# You've got to hold her Squeeze her, never leave her
# Got to, got to, got to
# Try a little tenderness
# A little, little tenderness
# A little, little tenderness
# You've got to
# Got to, you've got to
# Hold her, squeeze her Never leave her
# Got to, got to, na-na-na
# Got to try a little... #
This is Otis Redding. Otis Redding is doing it Otis Redding's way.
And this is soul, R&B, blues, jazz, all mixed in here.
But this is Otis Redding. And we released it.
The publishers sued us.
The publishers sued us,
went to get an injunction and a restraining order on us
to prevent us from releasing that record.
Their argument was that that performance was going to
damage Try A Little Tenderness.
A subtle racism still pervaded the music business.
This 1930s ballad had been covered
by established family favourites like Crosby and Sinatra.
MUSIC: "Try A Little Tenderness" by Bing Crosby
Otis was now threatening the song's pedigree
by transforming it into hot Southern soul.
# A little bit of tenderness
# A little tenderness
# Oh, just
# You've got to hold her Squeeze her, never leave her
# You got to, got to Got to try a little... #
There was a problem with a black male artist
because of historically what was happening in this country,
and how the larger segment of society viewed the black male.
Otis had made his own statement
about the institutionalised racism affecting him.
He'd recorded Sam Cooke's A Change Is Gonna Come.
# I was born by a river, oh man
# In this little old tent, whoa
# Just like this river
# I've been running ever since
# It's been a long, long
# Long time coming but I know, but I know
# A change has gotta come, man... #
Otis believed that he could do more for his race through music
than he could by being out there in front of the crowd holding signs
and doing the boycotts and pickets and things like that.
# I know, I know
# A change has gotta come. #
There were all kinds of obstacles that Otis faced in America,
coming from Georgia, and in Georgia itself.
Throughout the South, the racism, the segregation,
which was painful because we were hated.
And we were treated like animals.
Naturally, if you went into a restaurant,
and you were refused service, or,
another particular case, the guy wouldn't let him stand
near a heater in the store and sent him back to his freezing cold car
because he didn't want a black man standing in his service station.
Those incidents naturally hurt him,
but he had a way of knowing how to handle people
in that particular situation.
So Otis and the MGs were only too happy
to depart the mean streets of Memphis
when they and a select group of Stax's singers
were sent on a tour of Britain and Europe.
Though this was Otis's second visit to London,
many of his companions had never been outside the Deep South.
The trip would affect their lives in ways they'd never imagined.
# That's why I sing these happy songs
# They go dum-dum diddly-dee dum-dum... #
Well, we got there early in the morning...
..and it was really quiet, the airport was quiet.
And we were trying to figure out how we were going to get to the hotel
and so we were all out on the sidewalk,
and the limousines pulled up and they said,
"Oh, these are The Beatles' cars. They're loaning them to us."
So we all got excited, got in the limousines
and we were ready to be taken to town by The Beatles.
# Tell your mama, she give me... #
Otis had even recorded a frenetic version of The Beatles' Day Tripper
to celebrate his return to Britain.
# ..Take the easy way out, y'all
# I said, I got a good reason
# I'm going to take... #
This was the first time the MGs studio band
had ever gone on the road with Otis.
There was no way I could've guessed at the number of people
that had been there to greet us and to greet us with such enthusiasm
and such knowledge about who we were and what we'd done.
It was moving.
Now that just overwhelmed us in a very positive and dramatic way
because these were white people,
and it was the white people in America, where we had racism
and segregation, that were thumbs down, if you will, on us.
And here we were being embraced by white people in the United Kingdom
and throughout the whole of Europe as we travelled through Europe.
It gave us a different perspective on ourselves,
it increased our appreciation for ourselves.
We didn't know that our music was appreciated
and loved that much, because it had been a fight
and still was a fight in America to get it played.
But then to come and get off that plane in the UK
and see a field and a rose garden of white people,
a flower garden, loving our music,
and at the concerts and the performances, people interacting,
we could not believe it.
It changed how we viewed ourselves and it gave us more confidence.
It is now star time!
I'm talking about the man that sings Pain In My Heart!
The man that sings Shake! The man that sings Satisfaction!
The man that sings Fa-Fa!
I'm talking about the star of the show, it's Mr Otis Redding!
MUSIC: "Respect" by Otis Redding
# What you want, honey, you've got it
# What you need, babe, you got it
# All I'm asking for is a little respect when I come home
# Yeah, now, hey-hey-hey
# Yeah, now, ooh, Lord
# Do me wrong, honey If you want to... #
Otis was like a ball of dynamite.
And he was like your friend up there
but oozing confidence, oozing love.
The English audiences were the most energetic,
responsive crowds that we'd ever seen.
And so we were turned on by that, you know, I mean,
they got the most out of us by feeding us all that energy.
# Hey, little girl You're sweeter than honey... #
The tempos were faster, the energy higher,
the band more together than ever before.
# ..Respect when I come home
# Yeah-yeah, hey-hey-hey. #
The musical togetherness never fell apart.
It's like we were dictated that we were going to be simple,
we were going to be straightforward, we were going to be funky.
We were going to be good.
We were blowing people away.
We get up there with this dynamite band and just blow people out.
And, of course, Otis Redding, it's like, "Holy mackerel!
"This guy's a monster!"
# Give it up, give it up Give it up, give it up... #
In England, he was definitely the King of Soul, without question.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
The Stax/Volt tour introduced many of the label's top artists
all in one show.
They travelled England, Wales and Scotland,
often doing two performances a night.
Otis always topped the billing.
The more pressure put on him, the harder he worked.
There was no relaxing.
Whereas, we could relax because we weren't headlining.
We had a lot of fun.
Love and fun, and clowning and carrying on.
# ..To find out if it's trick or treat... #
# ..I love you, baby
# But you're playing pretty bad, girl... #
He'd call home at least five times a day.
I said, "Are you enjoying yourself?"
And he said, "I'm having so much fun over here,
"but I am really, really getting a whole new audience here."
And to see, back then, in the '60s,
that it was a mixed audience with blacks and whites,
that just blew him away.
Everybody help me sing it, now.
# Hey-hey-hey... #
One more time. # ..Hey-hey-hey...
# ..Ooh, mmm-yeah, yeah, oh
# I don't need no money
# Fortune or fame, yeah
# I got all the riches, baby
# One big man can claim... #
It was cold and wet...
..but they loved the people and they were learning about the food.
And you could see them looking at each other, like,
"Are they ripping us off?
"Are they ripping us off?"
In '67, a lot of the places in England were sort of still
on the ration kind of mentality.
very small portions and all that,
and here comes these guys
that could just eat anything you put in front of 'em!
I remember on the road, and I have some Super 8 film of this,
we stopped the bus to get gas and stuff
and we all ran in this little grocery store on the road there,
and Eddie Floyd found a can of pork and beans,
and ran on the bus and said, "Guys, you can't have any!"
I never will forget that.
Something so small but so important.
# Come on, now
# Happy song, happy song... #
From having to go to the back to get food,
or not be served at all,
and have different restrooms and all of that,
with white America,
and all of a sudden you go to a country
and you're interacting with 100% white people,
and none of that is happening, it's like you've gone to heaven.
Europe changed us. It gave us another perspective on life.
The Stax/Volt tour rambled around Britain then Europe
and built to its climax with a return visit to London.
The final shows would be a triumph that would profoundly affect the
lives of the many budding British singers in the audience that night.
It started off with, "Give me an O!
"Give me a T! Give me an I! Give me an S!"
And then Otis came out.
But he only sang for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, that's all you had to do in those days.
But he was a big man and when he came on stage you knew he was there.
In the early days, I would always try and sound like Otis.
And in doing so, that developed the voice that has become my own.
# I can't get no satisfaction. #
I thought, "God! That's great!"
He had a quality in there that you felt.
You knew it was coming from his heart when he sang.
But even though I was heavily influenced by Otis Redding,
I still tried to do it my own way.
It was a great learning curve for me.
I mean, I took a lot from him, you know.
He would do an, "Ow!" Something like a little scream.
You would employ that in your own repertoire, you know.
And I still do it today.
Thank you, Otis.
It was just feeling this huge energy force, you know,
of great music played with such flair and verve.
It was just incredibly inspiring.
I thought, "Is there anything you can do to follow this?"
And I sort of found something that I could do.
But I'm not sure I would have done any of it
if I hadn't been there that night. So...interesting.
# I got to have it Satisfaction
# We got to have it Satisfaction
# Early in the morning Satisfaction
# Take it on up I need satisfaction. #
Everybody wanted to be around Otis.
Everybody wanted to be a part of that scene, that Stax/Volt tour,
because it was the excitement of everything that had come up
from the previous five years right there on stage for everybody to see.
And it dramatically changed Otis, because his self-image
and how he felt about himself changed.
And it allowed him to be freer in his performance of the music,
because the confidence was there.
And that's what the UK gave us.
It took Stax and Otis Redding to another level.
But the very success of the tour would not only dramatically affect
Otis Redding, it would also lead to the disintegration of Stax Records.
When we came back from Europe we thought of ourselves differently.
We were somebody in Europe...
people recognised us on the street.
Everybody came back a superstar.
They went over there as just a struggling musician,
they all came back in their heads as superstars after 17 days.
That was very difficult to deal with.
So we began to think of ourselves as bigger stars.
You know, as somebody who deserved pay.
Were we getting...the right numbers on our statements?
What is Atlantic getting?
What is Stax doing?
Those kind of things, who's cheating whom?
It's a painful reality what Sam was talking about there, very painful. Um-hm.
So, basically, the team started splitting up.
So...it was meant to be, you know. I guess, written in the stars.
-Dreams to remember. #
And there was more than a little jealousy towards Stax's superstar,
who seemed aloof from the problems engulfing his colleagues.
Otis returned home to his 400-acre ranch and adoring family
and his future looked secure.
I remember him coming home from London
and I had this poem. And I said, "I want you to take this poem."
"I've missed you so bad while you were away."
And he took it and he said, "You are not a songwriter."
I said, "OK, I just wrote a poem."
But it was all about him and how I missed him.
# Dreams to remember.. #
On a promotional video,
Otis playfully showed how all his childhood dreams had come true.
He didn't have a college degree,
but he had common sense and he had a gift.
And at 26 years old, he owned a second aeroplane
and a 14-room home and 400 acres of land.
He always would tell me it ain't how much money you make,
it's what you do with the money you make.
We realised after coming back from the UK and Europe
that our music was accepted and appreciated.
So I started, with more persistence, creativity and vim and vigour,
if you will, going after white radio stations in America to
play our music.
# You left all the water running... #
We knew we had overcome,
it was just a matter of being able to figure out a way, on my part,
to market it to the masses where they could hear the music.
# ..Baby, you turned off the light of love
# You left with another guy. #
Al Bell made sure everyone knew about the triumph in Britain
and Otis finally began to cross over to the mass American audience.
On the West Coast, flower power was blossoming
and the first big pop festival at Monterey offered him,
unpaid, the chance to play before a mainly white audience.
He grabbed the opportunity.
But Otis was not supposed to headline Saturday night.
The Beach Boys dropped out
very close to the last minute for many reasons
and Otis became the headliner.
Otis told the MGs, "Do it like we did in England."
And 30,000 hippies were enthralled by their intensity and togetherness.
# You move your body all around
# And just shake
# That's the way you do it
# Now shake
# Doggone, baby, now shake
# Shake it, shake it, baby!
# Shake it like a bowl of soup, yeah
# And let it go loop-the-loop, yeah
# Put your hands on your hips now
# Come on, let your backbone slip
# Move your body like a whip
# And just shake!
# Lord have mercy! Shake!
# Early in the morning... #
The impact was unbelievable.
Otis got to their soul.
And Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead
said he thought he had seen God on stage that night.
This was the first pop festival to be shown in cinemas
and Otis was portrayed in an almost spiritual light
by the director of the Monterey movie.
He captured onstage exactly what was happening at the festival.
And he was shooting right into the lights
and what he was hoping is that Otis would cover the light
so that he wouldn't have that in his lens.
Once he saw what he had, he stayed with it.
At that moment, you realise that Otis
is enjoying the performance as much as the audience.
# I can't stop now
# You are tired and your love is growing cold
# My love is growing stronger as our affair grows old
# Ohh, I've been loving you Oh, too long
# And I don't wanna stop now. #
He got in back at our home about three o'clock, four o'clock in the morning
and I said, "Well, how did it go?"
He said, "I killed them out there. I got me... I got 'em."
And he was so excited you could just see it in his eyes.
And he felt so good that he had reached another audience
that he didn't ever think he would be able to reach.
In the British Melody Maker September '67 Poll
Otis had, astonishingly,
dethroned Elvis Presley as the world's top male vocalist.
# You can rock me, baby. #
He was now ready to return to Stax and consolidate his meteoric rise on vinyl.
But a worrying problem intervened.
He started work again in the studio and, of course,
his vocal chords got messed up.
And he was just kind of upset about everything, you know,
words weren't coming out right, his strength wasn't pushing the notes out right.
But he had had polyps, which was a vocal chord condition
where you develop these nodes on your vocal chords.
So he couldn't sing for six weeks
and he couldn't talk for the first two weeks.
We were all scared to death, you know.
You really did not know what the outcome of it was.
And that was six weeks of remarrying again,
cos it was a lot of time spent together,
with me having to see about him
and he getting all upset cos he couldn't speak.
He couldn't talk and he was writing on pads.
I think that frustrated him.
I remember him getting, you know,
a little frustrated that he couldn't speak.
Yet it was a time of creative outpouring for Otis.
He sketched some 30 new songs during his enforced silence.
I can remember the little bell that he would ring for my mum.
And I can remember her saying, "I'm so sick of that damn bell!" You know.
But he had time to think and to organise his goals,
where he wanted to be, where he wanted to go, how he wanted to reinvent himself.
And he would sit and listen to Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts...
He loved it. He said, "These guys are so ahead of their time!"
Sgt Pepper's was a major influence on him writing Dock Of The Bay.
It made him open his ideas to a more broader pop audience.
In fact, when he did Dock Of The Bay, I was very upset by it,
I did not like the song.
It sounds very stupid today,
since it placed number seven in the all-time history of music.
But I thought Otis had steered too far from his own style.
Otis had been clowning around and if you ever hear the outtakes,
he's clowning around trying to do a seagull sound
in the front of the recording.
And he sounds like a crow not a seagull.
# Sitting in the morning sun
# I'll be sitting when the evening comes
# Watching the ships roll in
# Then I watch 'em roll away again... #
Otis was in a period of self discovery
and I think that's why the introspective lyrics are on Dock Of The Bay.
And I think he was finding a much bigger part of himself.
And it was all Otis, it was all about Otis.
It was just something about the rhythm of that song
that made it a little more pop-ish than a normal R&B track.
# ..Looks like nothing is gonna change
# Oh, how everything still just stays the same
# I can't do what 20 people tell me to do
# So, I guess I'll remain the same... #
And when I first heard, it was so sad to me,
because he felt as if he knew something was going to happen.
When? Nobody knows.
But if you listen to the message,
it's just something was going on in his mind.
# ..I left my home in Georgia
# I headed for the 'Frisco Bay
# I've got nothing to live for
# And look like nothing's gonna come my way
# So I'm just gonna sit... #
Before he'd even finish recording Dock Of The Bay,
Otis headed out to a gig in Wisconsin across the freezing waters of Lake Monona.
# ..Sitting on the dock of the bay... #
The phone rang and someone on the other end said, "He's gone."
And I can remember my mom dropping the phone,
running down the steps and going out the door with no shoes.
It was pouring down with rain and I ran up the driveway behind her.
When the plane crashed, you don't know where you're going to go,
you really don't know what's going to happen.
And she was just hysterical and I just ran out with her.
Because I didn't know at the time that it was death,
but I knew something tragic had happened.
I remember jerking the phone out of the wall, you know.
"Oh, no!" You know, tore the whole phone out of the wall.
And I just knew it was true. And going out to see Zelma
and finding her in tears and her saying, "Oh, he might be swimming."
It was, like, "Zelma, I've been told there's no way."
# ..I'm sitting on the dock of the bay
# Wasting time. #
Ironically, Otis would achieve in death what he'd never been able to manage during his short life.
Dock Of The Bay went straight to number one on the pop charts
and sold four million copies worldwide.
Otis was soulful from the heart.
And he made it raw, and he made it gritty
and he made it powerful and he made it strong, you know.
To me, Otis put the S and the O in soul.
And with Otis it was about his music,
it was about singing and performing great
and making those people feel good.
He lived for that.
He lived...for that.
# Give a little
# Take a little
# And let your little heart just cry a little
# That's the story of
# That's the glory of love
# So, brothers and sisters
# You ought to know what I'm taking about now, now
# Cry just a little bit, yeah
# Sigh just a little
# And let that old wind just blow right on by a little, yeah
# That's the story of
# The good old glory of love
# I still know what I'm talking about y'all
# When this old world gets tired of us
# We'll have each other and hold each other
# When this old world gets through with us
# We'll have each others arms... #
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Documentary about the legendary soul singer Otis Redding, following him from childhood and marriage to the Memphis studios and segregated southern clubs where he honed his unique stage act and voice. Through unseen home movies, the film reveals how Otis's 1967 tour of Britain dramatically changed his life and music. After bringing soul to Europe, he returned to conquer America, first with the 'love crowd' at the Monterey Festival and then with Dock of the Bay, which topped the charts only after his death at just 26.
Includes rare and unseen performances, intimate interviews with Otis's wife and daughter and with original band members Steve Cropper and Booker T Jones. Also featured are British fans whose lives were changed by seeing him, among them Rod Stewart, Tom Jones and Bryan Ferry.