With astonishing breadth, respected music historian Ribowsky (The Supremes) deftly weaves Otis Redding’s story with the rise and fall of Stax Records. Born the son of a preacher man in Macon, Ga., Redding gravitated toward the blues and R&B at a young age, even while his father warned him that singing such music could come to no good. By the time he turns 17, Otis is singing in clubs, showcasing his canny genius for singing the songs of other and writing his own. Phil Walden, a Mercer University student with a heart for rock and roll and a head for promotion, signs on as Redding’s first manager, encouraging him eventually to head to Memphis and Stax, where Stax president Jim Stewart invites a reluctant Redding to lay down a track. From that moment, Redding’s career begins to rise and in 1965 he scores a hit with “Respect,” a song that illustrated Redding’s vulnerability and his fear of losing his marriage. Ribowsky follows Redding from the Fillmore West to Monterey in order to illustrate the deep influence his music had on acts including the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin. In the end, as Ribowsky brilliantly shows, Redding was a man of music, and that music’s originality changed the face of rock ’n’ roll and soul. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/11/2015 Release date: 06/01/2015 Genre: Nonfiction
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