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Otis Redding : an unfinished life
2017
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Publishers Weekly Reviews

Drawing on interviews with Otis Redding's widow, Zelma, as well as interviews with Redding's family, friends, and musical associates, Gould (Can't Buy Me Love) brings tedious detail to the well-known story of Redding's life and music. Gould begins with a tour of Southern history to illustrate, unsurprisingly, that Redding's music reached across racial borders in a racially divided world. When Gould focuses on Redding's music, the book comes alive, and he traces that music year by year from the singer's early gospel influences, his early emulation of Little Richard, and his association with manager Phil Walden to his rise to fame at Stax, his energetic shows at the Apollo and the Fillmore West, and his career-defining show at Monterey Pop a few months before his death. Despite Redding's growing popularity, his ambition, and the raw power he displayed onstage, he frequently displayed insecurity about his own abilities; Gould points out that the singer's refusal to record his own version of Bob Dylan's "Just Like a Woman" illustrates not only Redding's insistence that lyrics didn't matter but also his defensiveness and anxiety. Gould's often exhausting study, never sure whether it wants to be music history, social history, or biography, treads over territory already well covered by others. (May)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

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Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the artist’s performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, this definitive biography traces his short life and career from his childhood in Georgia, his recording contract with Stax and the plane crash that took his life. - (Baker & Taylor)

"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 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" -- provided by publisher. - (Baker & Taylor)

Presents a comprehensive portrait of the singer's background, his upbringing, and his professional career, while placing the narrative within the social history of the nineteen sixties. - (Baker & Taylor)

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. - (Random House, Inc.)

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