Otis Ray Redding, Jr. was an American singer-songwriter, record producer, arranger and talent scout. He is considered one of the greatest singers in the history of American popular music and a seminal artist in soul and rhythm and blues. His singing style was powerfully influential among soul artists of 1960s and helped exemplify the Stax sound.
Born and raised in Georgia, United States, Redding left school at age 15 to support his family, working with Little Richard's backing band, the Upsetters, and performing at talent shows for prize money. In 1958, he joined Johnny Jenkins's band, the Pinetoppers, and toured the Southern United States as a driver and musician. An unscheduled appearance on a Stax recording session led to a contract and his first single, "These Arms of Mine," in 1962. Stax released Redding's debut album Pain in My Heart two years later.
Initially popular mainly with African Americans, Redding later reached a wider American popular music audience. Along with his group, he first played small gigs in the American South, then debuted in the western United States at L.A.'s popular night club the Whisky a Go Go.