Dreams to Remember: Otis Redding, Stax Records, and the Transformation of Southern Soul

Dreams to Remember: Otis Redding, Stax Records, and the Transformation of Southern Soul

by Mark Ribowsky


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A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year (Nonfiction)

Finalist for the Marfield Prize, National Award for Arts Writing

“Evokes the fire of Redding.... Ribowsky tells the story with nonstop energy, while always probing for the larger social and musical pictures.” —New York Times Book Review

When he died in one of rock's string of tragic plane crashes, Otis Redding was only twenty-six, yet already the avatar of a new kind of soul music. The beating heart of Memphis-based Stax Records, he had risen to fame belting out gospel-flecked blues in stage performances that seemed to ignite not only a room but an entire generation. If Berry Gordy's black-owned kingdom in Motown showed the way in soul music, Redding made his own way, going where not even his two role models who had preceded him out of Macon, Georgia—Little Richard and James Brown—had gone.

Now, in this transformative work, New York Times Notable Book author Mark Ribowsky contextualizes his subject's short career within the larger cultural and social movements of the era, tracing the crooner's rise from preacher's son to a preacher of three-minute soul sermons. And what a quick rise it was. At the tender age of twenty-one, Redding needed only a single unscheduled performance to earn a record deal, his voice so "utterly unique" (Atlantic) that it catapulted him on a path to stardom and turned a Memphis theater-turned-studio into a music mecca. Soon he was playing at sold-out venues across the world, from Finsbury Park in London to his ultimate conquest, the 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival in California, where he finally won over the flower-power crowd.

Still, Redding was not always the affable, big-hearted man's man the PR material painted him to be. Based on numerous new interviews and prodigious research, Dreams to Remember reintroduces an incredibly talented yet impulsive man, one who once even risked his career by shooting a man in the leg. But that temperament masked a deep vulnerability that was only exacerbated by an industry that refused him a Grammy until he was in his grave—even as he shaped the other Stax soul men around him, like Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave, and Booker T. and The MG's.

As a result, this requiem is one of great conquest but also grand tragedy: a soul king of truth, a mortal man with an immortal voice and a pain in his heart. Now he, and the forces that shaped his incomparable sound, are reclaimed, giving us a panoramic of an American original who would come to define an entire era, yet only wanted what all men deserve—a modicum of respect and a place to watch the ships roll in and away again.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631491931
Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 05/17/2016
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 765,990
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Mark Ribowsky is a New York Times acclaimed, best-selling author of fifteen books,
including biographies of Tom Landry, Al Davis, Hank
Williams, and most recently, In the Name of the
Father: Family, Football, and the Manning Dynasty.
He lives in Florida.lorida.

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Dreams to Remember: Otis Redding, Stax Records, and the Transformation of Southern Soul 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of Dreams to Remember by Mark Ribowsky on August 11 as a Goodreads Giveaway from W.W. Norton & Company. Otis is one of my heroes - thank you so much for sharing this biography with me! Because he died so young, there was little information out there about Otis Redding and his family. I was pleased to be able to fill in the blanks of the life of a gentleman who shared such talent with his listeners, and fronted some of the changes in Blues and Rock through the 1960's. This book covers some of those changes very well. I would recommend it to anyone who loves the Blues, R &B and classic rock. It is interesting to see how much of that growth of R & B and Country Rock, the birth of Southern Blues, took place in Macon, Georgia - one thinks of Chicago and New York as being the soul of Blues.