(Picture sleeve to 1985 Polydor LP ‘If Looks Could Kill’ by The Reddings, featuring Otis Redding’s sons Otis III and Dexter)
Otis III; how old were you when your father passed away?
I was three and about to be four years old when my father passed away. I still have some memories, very small memories, but not a whole lot – but just enough.
What do you think that your father might have achieved if he’d lived longer?
I believe that he would still be a great songwriter and I believe that he would probably still be performing even now. I believe that he would be doing lots of different things and would still be a pioneer in the industry.
He had a large crossover appeal which I think made him unique among R&B performers back in the 1960s.
Yes, he had to be very open-minded for him to do that. He had a large pop appeal because of the music that he was into – if you look at some of the cover tunes he covered, he did ‘Day Tripper’ (by The Beatles). He was not just a closed-in soul artist, he was a pop-soul artist.
How important was he as a role model for African-American people?
Very much so because there’s a particular song that he did, ‘Stay In School.’ It’s a little anthem about staying in school and it’s a great song and that lets you know that he was staying focused about being a role model and speaking and singing positive songs and putting in young people’s minds to stay focused, stay educated and stay in school.
What qualities do you think distinguished him from other singers back in the ’60s?
His style and his range. A lot of African-American soul artists from back in that time had an extraordinary range but he also had the depth to go with it – they sounded so much more mature and so much older than you thought they was, but they had the range to go with it.
Which of your father’s recordings have a special significance for you?
I would say ‘These Arms Of Mine’ and ‘Dreams To Remember.’ They mean a lot to me and touch my heart every time I hear them, especially ‘Dreams To Remember,’ being a song that my mother co-wrote with my father. It was a poem that she had and he took the song and finished it. And of course, ‘The Dock Of The Bay,’ is a song that will always stick with me and with probably everybody in our family because it was such a successful song towards the end of his career.
Otis, you followed in your father’s footsteps by becoming a musician…
Exactly. We were pretty successful. We travelled to the UK and Japan. We had a group called The Reddings and from 1981 to 1988 we did very well. My mother never pushed us into music but we, my brother Dexter and I, were able to do good and we did that and once funk music started to kind of dismantle it gave us the opportunity to pay attention to our roots. I started going back and forth to London around ’92/’93 with Eddie Floyd and that’s when I really started to get more into soul music.
Now are you involved with your father’s foundation…
Yes, most definitely. My life is for music and progress through education. We have a singer- songwriter camp that we do every year and it really does a lot for some of the kids between the ages of 13 and 17 here and Karla who is my sister, who’s a director with my mother, they’ve helped a lot of kids to go on and do some things in the music field that they would not otherwise be able to do. If you go to www.otisredding.com it will tell you more about the foundation.
OTIS REDDING ‘THE KING OF SOUL’ IS OUT NOW VIA RHINO ENTERTAINMENT
Also check out Rhino’s companion box set to ‘The King Of Soul,’ ‘The Queen Of Soul,’ which chronicles Aretha Franklin’s Atlantic years: