Otis Redding Net Worth (Updated 2024)

What was Otis Redding’s Net Worth?

Otis Redding, often referred to as the “King of Soul,” had a net worth of $10 million at the time of his untimely death. He was a renowned American singer-songwriter, record producer, talent scout, and arranger.

Otis Redding was born in Dawson, Georgia, and moved to Macon at a young age. He left school at 15 to help support his family and began his music career by working with Little Richard’s backing band, the Upsetters, and participating in talent shows at Macon’s historic Douglass Theatre. In 1958, he joined Johnny Jenkins’s band, the Pinetoppers, and toured the Southern states as both a singer and driver.

Redding’s big break came when he unexpectedly appeared during a recording session at Stax Records. This led to a record contract and his first hit single, “These Arms of Mine,” in 1962. His debut album, “Pain in My Heart,” was released by Stax Records two years later.

While initially popular mainly among African-Americans, Redding’s music gradually gained wider recognition within the American pop music scene. He and his group began performing at small venues in the American South and expanded their reach to iconic locations like the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles. They also toured major cities in Europe, including London and Paris. In 1967, he performed at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival.

Tragically, shortly before his death in a plane crash, Redding wrote and recorded his iconic song “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” with Steve Cropper. This song became the first posthumous number-one record on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. His album “The Dock of the Bay” also became the first posthumous album to reach number one on the UK Albums Chart.

Redding’s untimely passing was a significant loss to Stax Records, which was already facing financial difficulties. The label later discovered that the Atco division of Atlantic Records owned the rights to his entire song catalog.

In recognition of his immense talent and contributions to music, Redding received numerous posthumous accolades, including two Grammy Awards, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Black Music & Entertainment Walk of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Some of his most well-known songs include “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” “Respect,” and “Try a Little Tenderness.”

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:


Otis Redding

Net Worth:

$10 Million

Date of Birth:

Sep 9, 1941 – Dec 10, 1967


$1 Million Per Year

Source of Wealth:

Songwriter, Singer, Singer-songwriter, Composer

Otis Redding Net Worth

Learn more: richest singers in the world

Early Life

Otis Redding was born in Dawson, Georgia, as the fourth of six children to Otis Redding Sr. and Fannie Roseman. His family later moved to Macon’s Tindall Heights public housing project when he was three years old.

From a young age, Otis showed musical talent by singing in the church choir and learning to play the guitar and piano. At the age of 10, he took drum and singing lessons and even performed gospel songs on Macon’s WIBB radio station every Sunday, winning a teen talent show for 15 consecutive weeks.

Inspired by artists like Little Richard and Sam Cooke, Otis considered Little Richard as his musical role model. At the age of 15, he left school to help support his family, taking on various jobs, including well digging, working at a gas station, and occasionally performing as a musician.

His big break came in 1958 when he won “The Teenage Party” talent contest with the backing of guitarist Johnny Jenkins. This success led to him becoming the frontman for “Pat T. Cake and the Mighty Panthers.” Later, he joined the Upsetters when Little Richard transitioned to gospel music.

In the early 1960s, Otis relocated to Los Angeles, where he recorded his first songs, including “Tuff Enuff,” “She’s All Right,” “I’m Gettin’ Hip,” and “Gamma Lamma” (released as “Shout Bamalama”).


Early Career

In his early career, Otis Redding was a member of Pat T. Cake and the Mighty Panthers, and he began touring the Southern United States on the Chitlin’ Circuit. This circuit included venues that welcomed African-American entertainers during the era of racial segregation, which lasted into the early 1960s. During this time, Johnny Jenkins, Redding’s bandmate, left to become the featured artist with the Pinetoppers.

Around this period, Redding met Phil Walden, who later founded the recording company Phil Walden and Associates, and Bobby Smith, who ran the small label Confederate Records. Redding signed with Confederate Records and recorded a single called “Shout Bamalama” (a new version of “Gamma Lamma”) along with “Fat Girl,” along with his band, Otis and the Shooters.

Redding’s significant opportunity came when he performed at a “Battle of the Bands” show in Lakeside Park, where the Pinetoppers were also present. During this event, Wayne Cochran joined them and later became the bassist for the Pinetoppers.

Phil Walden, who was looking for a record label for Jenkins, connected with Joe Galkin from Atlantic Records, who showed interest in Jenkins. Redding, without a driver’s license, drove Jenkins to the recording session at Stax studio in Memphis. However, Jenkins’ session, backed by Booker T. & the M.G.’s, didn’t go well and ended early. Redding was given a chance to perform two songs. The first, “Hey Hey Baby,” was considered too similar to Little Richard’s style, but the second, “These Arms of Mine,” featuring Jenkins on guitar and Steve Cropper on piano, caught the attention of studio chief Jim Stewart. Stewart signed Redding, and “These Arms of Mine” was released by Volt in October 1962, marking the beginning of Redding’s successful career.

Apollo Theater and “Otis Blue”

Following the success of his hit “These Arms of Mine,” Otis Redding released his debut album titled “Pain in My Heart,” featuring songs from the 1962–1963 recording sessions. In 1963, he recorded tracks like “That’s What My Heart Needs” and “Mary’s Little Lamb,” but the latter, which included background singing and brass, did not perform well commercially.

In November 1963, Redding, accompanied by his brother Rodgers and an associate named Sylvester Huckaby, traveled to New York to perform at the Apollo Theater for the recording of a live album for Atlantic Records. This album featured collaborations with other artists such as Ben E. King, the Coasters, Doris Troy, Rufus Thomas, and the Falcons.

Redding’s success earned him the nickname “Mr. Pitiful,” and he released several top 100 singles, including “Chained and Bound,” “Come to Me,” and “That’s How Strong My Love Is.” These songs were part of his second studio album, “The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads,” which was released in March 1965.

During this period, Redding co-wrote “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” with Jerry Butler. In July 1965, he and his studio crew recorded ten out of eleven songs for his next album during a 24-hour session. The resulting album, “Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul,” was released in September 1965 and featured his beloved cover of “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

Whisky a Go Go and “Try a Little Tenderness”

As Otis Redding’s success grew, he was able to buy a 300-acre ranch in Georgia called the “Big O Ranch.” During this time, Stax Records was flourishing, and Redding, along with his manager Phil Walden, established two production companies, “Jotis Records” and “Redwal Music.” These companies released various recordings, including tracks by artists like Arthur Conley, Billy Young, and Loretta Williams.

To broaden his fan base beyond predominantly African-American audiences, Redding made a significant decision to perform at the famous Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. This move marked him as one of the first soul artists to perform for rock audiences in the western United States. His performance received high praise, and he gained more mainstream popularity. Bob Dylan even attended his show and offered Redding an adapted version of one of his songs, “Just Like a Woman.”

In late 1966, Redding returned to the recording studio and recorded several tracks, including the iconic “Try a Little Tenderness,” backed by Booker T. & the M.G.’s. This song, originally written in 1932 by Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly, and Harry M. Woods, is often regarded as his signature song. It was featured on his next album, “Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul.”

Monterey Pop

In 1967, Otis Redding’s career reached new heights when he performed at the influential Monterey Pop Festival. He closed the show on the second day of the festival with an electrifying performance that captivated the audience. This performance marked a turning point in Redding’s career, as he shifted from primarily performing for black audiences to gaining broader acclaim and acceptance.

During his set at Monterey, Redding performed his own song “Respect” and a rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction.” His performance received enthusiastic praise, with notable musicians like Brian Jones and Jimi Hendrix among the audience. The Monterey Pop Festival was a pivotal moment that expanded Redding’s reach and his fan base.

“Dock of the Bay”

In December 1967, Otis Redding recorded another iconic song, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” which he co-wrote with Steve Cropper. Redding drew inspiration from the Beatles’ album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and aimed to create a similar sound, even though it was different from his usual style. His wife, Zelma, had reservations about the song’s unusual melody, and the Stax team wasn’t initially enthusiastic about it either. However, Redding believed in the song’s potential, and it did indeed become a chart-topping hit.

Unfortunately, despite enjoying this wave of success, Redding faced health issues as polyps developed on his larynx. He attempted to treat them with tea, lemon, and honey, but eventually had to undergo surgery in September 1967.

Personal Life

Otis Redding was a remarkable figure, standing at 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 meters) tall and weighing 220 pounds (100 kilograms). He was a well-rounded athlete with a strong passion for football and hunting. People who knew him often described him as lively, reliable, and possessing a great sense of humor.

Beyond his musical career, Redding was also a successful entrepreneur who actively participated in philanthropic activities. He had a special dedication to supporting underprivileged youth and had plans to establish a summer camp for disadvantaged children.

Marriage and Children

Otis Redding’s romantic journey began when he was 18 years old, meeting Zelma Atwood, who was 17, at “The Teenage Party.” About a year later, Zelma gave birth to their son Dexter during the summer of 1960. The couple got married in August 1961. However, in mid-1960, Otis moved to Los Angeles with his sister Deborah, while Zelma and their children stayed in Macon, Georgia.

Throughout their marriage, Otis and Zelma had four children together: Dexter, Demetria, Karla, and Otis III (born on December 17, 1964, and sadly, passed away on April 18, 2023). Otis, Dexter, and their cousin Mark Lockett later formed a band called the Reddings, with Zelma managing their affairs. Zelma was also actively involved in various businesses, including running a janitorial service called Maids Over Macon, operating nightclubs, and managing booking agencies.


In 1967, Otis Redding and his band used his Beechcraft H18 airplane for travel. On December 9, they performed on the Upbeat TV show in Cleveland and had three concerts in two nights at Leo’s Casino.

Despite adverse weather conditions, including heavy rain and fog, Redding decided to fly to Madison, Wisconsin, for a performance at the Factory nightclub on December 10 after talking to his family.

Tragically, about four miles from their destination, the plane crashed into Lake Monona. Ben Cauley, a member of the Bar-Kays and the only survivor, woke up just before the crash. The crash claimed the lives of Redding, four Bar-Kays members (Jimmy King, Phalon Jones, Ronnie Caldwell, and Carl Cunningham), their valet Matthew Kelly, and the pilot Richard Fraser.

Redding’s body was recovered the following day, and his funeral, originally scheduled for December 15, was postponed to December 18 due to the overwhelming number of attendees. It took place at Macon’s City Auditorium and was attended by over 4,500 people, surpassing the venue’s 3,000-seat capacity. Jerry Wexler delivered the eulogy, and Redding was laid to rest at his ranch in Round Oak, about twenty miles north of Macon.

Redding’s tragic passing occurred just three days after re-recording “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” He left behind his wife, Zelma, and their four children: Otis III, Dexter, Demetria, and Karla. In his honor, a memorial plaque was placed on the lakeside deck of the Madison convention center, Monona Terrace, on November 8, 1987.

Awards and Honors

  • The Prix Otis Redding, established by the Académie du Jazz in France for outstanding R&B record releases, was named after him.
  • The National Association of Television and Radio Announcers (NATRA) introduced the Otis Redding Award in his memory.
  • Readers of Melody Maker voted Redding as the top vocalist of 1967.
  • Posthumously won two Grammy Awards for “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” in 1969.
  • Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
  • Inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1988 and honored with a commemorative postage stamp in 1993.
  • Posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994 and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.
  • Ranked 21st on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” and eighth on the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” list.
  • Five of his albums were listed on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”
  • A memorial statue was unveiled in Macon, Georgia, in 2002.
  • The Otis Redding Foundation, founded in his honor in 2007, offers music and arts education programs.
  • Inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2013.

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