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Otis Redding cover art

Otis Redding

By: Jonathan Gould
Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki
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Summary

The long-awaited, definitive biography of the King of Soul, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Redding's iconic performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. 

Otis Redding remains an immortal presence in the canon of American music on the strength of such classic hits as "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay", "I've Been Loving You Too Long", "Try a Little Tenderness", and "Respect", a song he wrote and recorded before Aretha Franklin made it her own. As the architect of the distinctly Southern, gospel-inflected style of rhythm & blues associated with Stax Records in Memphis, Redding made music that has long served as the gold standard of 1960s soul. Yet an aura of myth and mystery has always surrounded his life, which was tragically cut short at the height of his career by a plane crash in December 1967. 

In Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life, Jonathan Gould finally does justice to Redding's incomparable musical artistry, drawing on exhaustive research, the cooperation of the Redding family, and previously unavailable sources of information to present the first comprehensive portrait of the singer's background, his upbringing, and his professional career. 

In chronicling the story of Redding's life and music, Gould also presents a social history of the time and place from which they emerged. His book never lets us forget that the boundaries between Black and White in popular music were becoming porous during the years when racial tensions were reaching a height throughout the United States. His indelible portrait of Redding and the mass acceptance of soul music in the 1960s is both a revealing look at a brilliant artist and a provocative exploration of the tangled history of race and music in America that resonates strongly with the present day. 

©2017 Jonathan Gould (P)2017 Random House Audio

What listeners say about Otis Redding

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Totally engaging 17hrs!

A glorious broad history of soul. Well written and spoken. A huge amount of work gone into the research, with a great analysis of the racial structure at the time.

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Fantastic emotional listen.

incredible book not only about Otis but also Soul & sixties black political struggles.

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  • John M. Twomey
  • 11-03-21

a brilliant musical history lesson

it seems like the book was going to start off a little dry and academic at the start, but the further I got into it, the more I realized the subtle and underneath sense of humor that was in the writing style, and the more fascinated I became by the way the author weaved together the threats of the development of music in the US with the civil Rights struggle, the migration to the north, and a the evening whole slew of other social factors. the overall scene setting and history lesson almost made Otis a secondary character in his own story, because there was such a wealth of detail and information. of course, I learned plenty about Otis Redding himself, but the social history this book gave was brought, deep, and fascinating. highly recommended!

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  • txlawyer
  • 28-04-18

Excellent history

Gould packs this book with social and musical history. It’s a fascinating story of a time in America for civil rights and the explosion of musical genres in US and beyond highly recommended. Plus, I love Otis Redding.

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  • Tim Gronkowski
  • 23-07-17

Book Full of Soul

I thoroughly enjoyed this book as a factual recount of the life of Otis Redding. But more than anything, this book sets the context for how to interpret one exceptional man's (short) life.

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  • Mark R. Segal
  • 06-06-20

Fantastic!

To understand Otis Redding, there’s a lot of social history that needs to be unpacked. This book exceeded in this feat.
A great biography and examination of race relations in the South.
Worth every minute of listening time.

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  • ANTHONY THOMPSON
  • 19-05-20

An Inspirational life

Loved the narration, and the beautiful uplifting story of Otis Redding. Very motivating life story.

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  • Bruce6735
  • 04-08-19

Great Biography

I was a college student during the mercurial rise of Otis Redding. I cried as if I had lost a friend and brother when he died. This is a great refresher for those of us products of the 60's.