Over Otis Redding
Probably the voice of Southern Soul music and one of the greatest vocalists of all time, Otis Redding was, and continues to be, an inspiration to any musician with a desire to move people with music (and any listener not made out of stone). Neither as smooth as Marvin Gaye or Sam Cooke nor as funky as James Brown, Redding was a big, sweaty man who put every ounce into his performances: you can hear every mistake he ever made in his voice when he cries and screams his way through "I've Been Loving You Too Long" and virtually every other song he recorded. Backed by a top form Booker T. and the MG's, his Stax recordings still crackle with the energy and fire of the South. The sad justice in his passing, shortly after leaving a sea of flush-faced hippies gawking at the Monterey Pop Festival, is that he had just unwittingly cemented his status in both the rock and Soul worlds. His passing, at a criminally young twenty-six years of age, managed to both seal the end of the Soul singer era and leave a vacant space in music that has yet to be filled.