9th Post: R – Last Names

1950 and 1960s MUSIC ARTISTS: LOU RAWLS & OTIS REDDING

My goal was to complete the artists and groups that their names ended with an R. I was able to complete two of eight. I managed to get through Lou Rawls and Otis Redding. For me, the Otis research was sad and depressing. He is a personal favorite of mine, yet died so young (26)…

Rawls, Lou. 1933-2006

Lou Rawls
Photo credit: bandsintown.com

Lou was born in Chicago and was raised by his grandmother in the Ida B. Wells projects on the south side. He sang in local groups as he grew up and where he met both Sam Cooke and Curtis Mayfield. He and Cooke sang together in gospel groups. In 1951, he replaced Cooke in the Highway QC’s when moved to LA. In 1955 Rawls enlisted in the Army (The 82nd Airborne Division). After his tour in the service both Rawls and Cooke toured with the Travelers.

In 1958, Rawls was in a serious car crash where he was pronounced dead at the scene. However, he was taken to a hospital and was found to be alive but spent five days in a coma there. He spent over a year recuperating and considered this to be a life-changing event.

In 1959, he performed at the Hollywood Bowl where Dick Clark was master of ceremonies. During this time period he cut four singles:

“Love, Love, Love” (https://youtu.be/6LK6vvqF-kM) (RQ 7)

“Walkin” (https://youtu.be/dNfWwEIszZg) (RQ 6)

“My Little Black Book” (https://youtu.be/iXTNU5-mooI) (RQ 8)

“80 Ways” (https://youtu.be/adhNID7mWdE) (RQ 7)

In 1962, he sang backing vocals in the songs: “Bring It On Home To Me (was charted) and That’s Where Its At.” Also in ‘62, three albums were completed:

“See See Rider” (https://youtu.be/vb6C9G1TjqM) (RQ 8)

“Black & Blue” (https://youtu.be/pcp3dsXse2I). (RQ 9)

“Tobacco Road” (https://youtu.be/UyfJKg7Dddo) (RQ 9)

These albums charted and propelled his career. In 1966, his album “Live!” (https://youtu.be/PFcmcH1DN2k) (RQ 8) was certified gold, but he did not have a star-making hit until his album “Soulin” was made. The album included: “Love is a Hurtin’ Thing” (https://youtu.be/BTvrd8038mY) (RQ 5) which was his first No1 R&B hit. In 1967, his record “Dead End Street” (https://youtu.be/N7540y6PTV8) (RQ 6) won a Grammy Award.

In 1969 Lou was a co-host (with Gail Martin, Dean’s daughter) for the summer tv series “Dean Martin Show.” In 1971, he recorded “Natural Man” (https://youtu.be/wuMEAgd5T0s). Then, in 1974, he did a cover version for “She’s Gone.” Finally two years later (1976) he recorded his first million dollar single: “You’re The One” (https://youtu.be/o9l4T4kfzcY) (RQ 10). He went back to back with another million dollar recording “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” (https://youtu.be/BUh3Hj2-cCo) (RQ 10+). Another Love reached No2 on the charts. Immediately next he recorded his next hit: “Lady Love” (https://youtu.be/RzlNHnnEAA4) (RQ 10).

In the 80s Lou spent time raising money for the United Negro College. He did 27 shows at this and raised more than 200M dollars doing so! He also did make some appearances on tv for Sesame Street and the Muppet Show. Last, he appeared in four movies: “The Big Valley, Leaving Las Vegas, Blues Brothers 2000 and Baywatch Nights.” Over time Lou won two more Grammy Awards in addition to the one for Dead End Street: “A Natural Man” and Unmistakably Lou (nominated for a fourth: “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine.”

Redding, Otis. 1941-67

Otis Redding
Photo credit: Reid Lee – December 23, 2017

Born in Dawson, Georgia. Was considered to be one of the greatest singers in the history of American pop music. He quit school at 15 to support his family. He worked talent shows at the historic Douglass Theater in Macon with Little Richard’s backing band the Upsetters. In 1958, he joined Johnny Jenkin’s band the Upsetters. It was in 1962 that he cut his first single: “These Arms of Mine” (https://youtu.be/aUaO50nWnvg) (RQ 7).

He released his first album: “Pain in My Heart” (https://youtu.be/158fwCG27zE) (RQ 7). in 1964. Initially his music was appealing only to primarily African-Americans. He was killed (only 26 years old) flying in his Beechcraft 18 on his way home from a gig in Cleveland (there were severe weather alert warnings), along with six other Bar-Kay band members: Jimmy King (guitarist), Phalon Jones (saxophonist), Ronnie Caldwell (organist), Carl Cunningham (drummer), Matthew Kelly (valet) and the pilot Richard Fraser. The plane crashed into Lake Monona only four miles from their destination at Truax field in Madison, WI. There was one lone survivor, Ben Cauley, another band member. The cause of this accident was never determined.

The true irony around this event was that three days before he had just completed re-recording his classic hit: “Sittin at the Dock of the Bay” (https://youtu.be/rTVjnBo96Ug) (RQ 8). This recording reached at No1 rating and sold more than four million copies. It also won a Grammy Award. Atlantic Records owned the rights to all of Redding’s unreleased recordings. There was sufficient material for three studio albums. Five successful singles emerged from these recordings:

“Amen” (https://youtu.be/sJUWn-26jkw) (RQ 7)

“Hard to Handle” (https://youtu.be/1ZxN9iQM7OY) (RQ 9)

“I’ve Got Dreams to Remember” (https://youtu.be/i2RGu1v5388) (RQ 6)

“Love Man” (https://youtu.be/P3ZdheRKzMk) (RQ 5)

“Look at that Girl” (https://youtu.be/w2-MAznk1Yc) (RQ 6)

In 2013 he was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music HOF. After his death France’s Academie du Jazz named an award after him: “Prix Otis Redding” given annually to the best record release in R&B.