Otis Redding – Signed 1963 Contract, For Royalties For First Two Singles
Otis Redding’s signed contract with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) for the calendar year of 1963. This agreement, dated April 29, 1963, allowed BMI to collect royalties for his first two singles, ‘Fat Gal/Shout Bamalama’ (Confederate Records, 1961) and ‘These Arms of Mine/Hey Hey Baby’ (Volt, 1962.)
This was almost certainly Redding’s first contract with a performance rights organization. BMI collects fees from radio stations and other businesses that use music, distributing the funds to songwriters and music whose works have been performed.
Redding’s debut single, on a small Southern label, attracted virtually no attention. After driving guitarist Johnny Jenkins to an audition at Stax Records, Redding was also allowed to audition. Wikipedia notes Jenkins’ audition was ‘unproductive and ended early;’ and that Stax/Volt co-owner Jim Stewart said ‘Everybody was fixin’ to go home, but [promotion man] Joe Galkin insisted we give Otis a listen. There was something different about [These Arms of Mine]. He really poured his soul into it.’ Stewart signed Redding and released ‘These Arms of Mine,’ with ‘Hey Hey Baby’ on the B-side…on Volt in October 1962 and it charted in March the following year. It became one of his most successful songs, selling more than 800,000 copies.
The contract measures 8 ½” by 22”, and is folded in half at the top. Redding signs on page 3, as does BMI’s vice president. On the fourth page are typewritten details of the four songs released on Redding’s first two singles. On the front are a date and the initials of Redding’s widow, Zelma Redding, and those of another unknown individual.
An extraordinary and historic Otis Redding contract, documenting his transition from unknown to soul giant.
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