1993 Otis Redding
Legends of American Music
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Set: Legends of American Music (Rock ‘n’ roll/Rhythm & Blues)
Value: 29c First-Class postage rate
First Day of Issue: June 16, 1993
First Day City: No official First Day City. Both Cleveland, Ohio and Santa Monica, California held cancellation ceremonies, but release was nationwide on the First Day of Issue.
Quantity Issued: 14,285,715
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Format: Semi-jumbo sheet stamp; printed in panes of 35 with six other stamps; 5 columns across and seven rows down.
Printing Method: Photogravure
Why the stamp was issued: The Otis Redding stamp was issued as part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll/Rhythm & Blues se-tenant set of seven. This was the first full set in the Legends of American Music Series.
About the stamp design: The designer of the stamps was John Berkey who also designed the Clyde McPhatter and Dinah Washington stamps in this set. Art direction was by Howard Paine.
Calligrapher Julien Water did the typography (lettering) on the sheet’s top selvage. The selvage lettering includes the full name of the Legends of /American Music Series in small upper-case letters. The Rock ‘n’ Roll/Rhythm & Blues lettering is in and edgy, exciting typeface befitting the legends of two important musical styles.
Special design details: All sevenstamps on the Rock ‘n’ Roll/Rhythm & Blues sheet, including Otis Redding, have some design differences from their booklet-format stamps issued the same day. There is no thin frame line around the images on the sheet stamps, while there is one on the booklet stamps. The line of type that runs up the left side of the sheet stamp is longer that on the booklet stamps. Some colors on the sheets are less vibrant as well. Otis Redding doesn’t have the ripped ticket stub effect that the Elvis and Bill Haley stamps do.
First Day Ceremonies: First Day ceremonies were held in Cleveland, Ohio (site of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame) and at the Santa Monica Pier in California with Dick Clark, former host of American Bandstand as the emcee. These weren’t official First Day Cities because the stamps went on sale nationwide on the same day.
About the Legends of American Music Series: TheLegends of American Music Series debuted on January 8, 1993 and ran until 1999. More than 70 artists are represented from all styles of music: rock and roll, rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and pop, opera and classical, gospel and folk. In addition to individual singers and Broadway musicals, subjects include bandleaders, classical composers, Hollywood songwriters and composers, plus conductors and lyricists.
The Legends of American Music Set was a huge advancement for diversity because it honored many Black and female artists.
The 29c “young Elvis” – #2721, kicked off the series in a big and very public way. Its design was voted on by over one million Americans, about 75% of whom favored the young Elvis over the “old Elvis” version.
History the stamp represents:
Otis Ray Redding, Jr., was born on September 9, 1941, in Dawson, Georgia. He enjoyed singing from an early age, participating in the local church choir and learning to play guitar, piano, and drums. By the time he was in his teens, he was earning $6 to perform gospel songs on the radio.
Redding quit school when he was 15 to help support his family. He held a variety of jobs and was also able to work occasionally as a musician. In 1958, he participated in a teen talent contest, attracting the attention of locally famous guitarist Johnny Jenkins. Jenkins offered to play with him and Redding went on to win 15 consecutive weekly talent shows. The young singer was invited to replace the frontman of a local band, but got a better offer. He was picked to replace his idol, Little Richard. Little Richard quit his rock ‘n’ roll band to dedicate himself to gospel music.
Redding didn’t stay with the band long and in 1960 he moved to Los Angeles. There he wrote his first songs, “She’s Allright,” “Tuff Enuff.” “I’m Gettin’ Hip,” and “Gamma Lamma.” Soon he was touring the South with Pat T. Cake and the Mighty Panthers. When a chance trip took him to Memphis, however, Redding’s childhood dream was fulfilled.
In 1962, he offered to drive Jenkins to a recording session at the Stax Studio in Memphis. The session was largely unproductive and ended early. Redding was invited to sing two songs. While they thought his rendition of “Hey Hey Baby” sounded too much like Little Richard, they were blown away by his performance of “These Arms of Mine.” One of the studio operators said “There was something different about [the ballad]. He really poured his soul into it.” Redding was signed to a label and the two songs were released that October. “These Arms of Mine” hit the charts the following year and became one of his most successful songs.
Redding released his debut album in 1964 and it performed well, reaching number 20 on the R&B chart and 85 on the Billboard Hot 100. During this time, he performed at the Apollo Theater and recorded a live album there. The success of his albums allowed him to buy a 300-acre ranch in Georgia and he co-founded a production company. Redding was then one of the first soul artists to perform for rock ‘n’ roll audiences in the western US.
In 1966, Redding recorded and released his signature song, “Try a Little Tenderness.” That same year he played in London before going on a European tour. The following year he was the closing act on Saturday night of the Monterey Pop Festival. Up until this time he had mostly played for African American audiences. But his performance that night was electric and involved the audience more than any other. It helped boost him from a local to a national star and was a turning point of his career.
In early December 1967, Redding went back to the studio to record his next album. He recorded a song he had co-written, “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay.” The label and others in the studio thought the song was not R&B and might damage their reputation, but Redding wanted to explore more diverse music and insisted the song would be a success.
Shortly after that recording session, Redding performed in Cleveland, then boarded his personal airplane for a concert in Madison, Wisconsin. The weather was poor. About four miles from their destination, the plane crashed into a lake, killing all but one of the passengers. Redding was among those killed; he was only 26 years old. Recorded three days before his death, “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” was released in 1968, reached the charts in one month and stayed there for almost a year. Though brief, Redding’s music career influenced generations of musicians. It’s been said that his marriage of traditional R&B with folk music in the 1960s took soul to a new level.