Stax to debut Redding's 'Soul Ambassador' documentary - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Stax to debut Redding's 'Soul Ambassador' documentary

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Monday, Sept. 9 would have been Otis Redding's 72nd birthday.

To help celebrate his birthday, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music will screen for the first time "Otis Redding: Soul Ambassador," a BBC documentary produced and directed by veteran British filmmaker Jeremy Marre.

This first-ever BBC Television documentary about Redding follows him from childhood and marriage to the Memphis studios and segregated nightclubs where he performed.

The hour-long documentary, which will make its American debut Monday evening in two free screenings at Stax at 6 and 7:15 p.m., reveals how Redding's 1967 tour of Britain dramatically changed his life and music with his first "love crowd" at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June 1967 with hits like "'(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay," which topped the charts after it was recorded a few days after his untimely death at age 26 on Dec. 10 of 1967.

MORE: American Premiere of OTIS REDDING: SOUL AMBASSADOR

The documentary includes rare film footage and interviews with his wife Zelma and his daughter, but some who were with him for the last year of his life were not included. James Alexander, who was touring with Redding and would have been on the plane that crashed, missed the flight because he dropped off the rental cars and flew home on a separate commercial flight.

"I joined the band in 1970," said Larry Dodson of the Bar-Kays. "There are so many wonderful stories. I feel like I knew the guy through James Alexander's eyes and wonderful stories. The guy was with him the last 70 concerts all the way up to his untimely death. It would just seem as if someone would want to know from a journalistic stand point what those days were like what those moments were like."

Alexander was even summoned to the medical examiner's office by Redding's widow to identify the body because she could not bring herself to do it.

"She asked me to identify Otis Redding," Alexander said.

Stax Records producer and writer David Porter was there the day Redding first walked in the door, but it was not as an artist.

"When he passed he was 26 years old," Porter said. "He was so then full of charisma, a vibe about him that's showed how great he was. He did not start that way. He came as the driver for another artist that we were recording. He was the driver and he was just laying on the floor. He asked if we would take a listen to him sing."

Porter first thoughts when he heard Redding sing was that he sounded exactly like Little Richard.

The two screenings of "Otis Redding: Soul Ambassador" are free to the public. The documentary featuring rare performances of his greatest hits, interviews with his family, the MGs band and such British fans as Rod Stewart, Tom Jones and Bryan Ferry.

Truth be known the BBC documentary would be several hours long if everyone with a great Otis Redding story was included. Porter was spot on when he said it is about Otis and not anyone else.

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