What’s the Experience of Wasted Time on a Mountain Got to Do With It?

So today I’m going to ignore the standard “3” rule and will be talking about 4 musicians, but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Again, as in yesterday’s post, there’s no real rhyme or reason why I picked the following, I just did. Although maybe it had something to do with me personally really liking these particular musicians. I’m just saying…

1. Otis Redding (1941-1969)

Born on September 9, 1941 in Dawson, GA, Otis Redding, Jr. began his career as a singer and musican at an early age by singing in the choir at his family’s Church. While in high school, he competed in the Douglass Theatre talent shows and, after winning 15 times straight, he wasn’t allowed to compete anymore. In 1960, Otis joined Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers and it was at a recording session in October 1962 at Stax Record where Stax co-owner, Jim Stewart, allowed Redding to cut some songs with the remaining studio time. The song “These Arms of Mine” came from that session and became the first of many hit singles to come. In the summer of 1967, listening to a lot of The Beatles during the week he was up in San Francisco performing at the San Francisco Fillmore West Theater, Redding wrote “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” This would become his biggest worldwide hit and signature song. Another significant contribution he made to the industry is that during a time where this would probably be considered to be politically incorrect, Redding had a white manager, Phil Walden, and a racially mixed band. He also set up his own publishing and record label, Jotis Records, in 1965, a business move that broke ground for black musicians. His career was short-lived, however. On December 10, 1967, while flying in his private plane with fellow bandmates, it crashed into Lake Monona in Madison Wisconsin and died. (For more, please visit here.)

Here is a live performance of Redding in 1967 singing “Try a Little Tenderness” one day before his plane crashed:

And here is Redding singing his signature song:

2. Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970)

Jimi Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix in Seattle, WA and was given the nickname “Young Jimmy” at an early age; his father was named James “Al” Hendrix. Al quickly noticed Jimmy’s interest in guitar and found ways to nurture that interest starting with a ukulele given to him when Al noticed he was strumming a broom like he was playing a guitar. In 1961, Jimmy enlisted in the US Army but was eventually discharged after an injury during a parachute jump. Upon leaving the Army, he became a session guitarist under the name Jimmy James and quickly began making a name for himself. By 1966, he found himself in London with Animals’ bassist, Chas Chandler, who became Jimmy’s manager. He had Jimmy change his name to “Jimi” and they brought on Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding to form Jimi Hendrix Experience. In the fall of 1966, they had become the talk of the town. Jimi’s career began to grow exponentially in London but it wasn’t until he returned to the US and playing Woodstock in August 1969 did his fame skyrocket. The fame, however, wouldn’t last for long. The details of his death are somewhat sketchy but the coroner concluded the Hendrix aspirated on his own vomit and died of asphyxia while intoxicated with barbiturates. His date of death is September 18, 1970 in London. He is buried in Renton, Washington. (For more, please visit here and here.)

Here is Hendrix, live at Woodstock 1969:

3. Marvin Gaye (1939-1984)

Marvin Gaye was born Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. on April 2, 1939. He began to sing in his family’s church accompanied by his father on the piano. When he sang in a school play, he was encouraged to pursue a music career, although not much of his home life encouraged such a path. His father often brutally whipped Marvin for what he perceived to be any shortcomings that Marvin might have. His sister would later confirm that Marvin was beaten often from seven years old into his teenage years. Marvin credits his mother’s support for saving him and encouraging him to pursue music because, without that support, he has said that he would have otherwise committed suicide as a child. He was often taunted for his last name and eventually changed the spelling and added an “e” at the end. He wanted to silence questions surrounding his sexuality and also further distance himself from his father. He released his first single in 1961, “Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide” and it was a flop followed by more flops. In 1962, he found success as co-writer of the Marvelettes hit “Beechwood 4-5789” and his first solo hit “Stubborn Kind of Fellow” was released later that same year reaching number 8 on the R&B chart and number 46 on the Billboard Hot 100. While he initially sought out to become a jazz artist, R&B seemed to come naturally to him and where he reached success going on to partner with Mary Wells, Kim Weston and Tammi Terrell with whom he developed a close friendship. He is credited as having significant influence in shaping the sound of Motown Records in the 1960s and turned out hit after hit throughout the 1970s. On April 1, 1984, while talking to his mother, Gaye’s father shot Marvin fatally with the same gun given to him for Christmas by Marvin. He would have turned 45 the next day. (For more, please read here.)

Here is Marvin Gaye singing “Heard It Through the Grapevine” live:

Here is Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” live on the Johnny Carson show in the 1960s:

4. Tina Turner (1939- )

Born as Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939 in Nutbush, TN, Tina began her career singing in the church choir. She began her musical career in the mid-1950s as a featured singer with Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm. In 1960, she was introduced as Tina Turner and a member of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. The duo was very successful; however, according to Tina, it was at a high cost and she later revealed that Ike was abusive toward her. They split in 1976 and divorced in 1978. Initially, her solo career didn’t take off, but in 1983, she launched a string of hits followed by the release of her fifth solo album Private Dancer which would become a worldwide success. She is considered to be one of the world’s most popular entertainers and is also called The Queen of Rock n Roll. She earned the credit for most successful female rock artist, winning eight Grammys and selling more concert tickets than any other solo performer in history. She currently resides in Switzerland where she is also its citizen. (For more, please visit here.)

Tina Turner and Ike Turner sing “Rolling on the River (Proud Mary)” in 1971:

And Tina’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It” live:


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