Many of today's stars are influenced by artists that date back to before synthesizers took over. That's a sign of just how enduring some of these acts are. Sadly, some of them are no longer with us. One of the lauded few is Otis Redding, arguably the greatest soul singer of all time. The "King of Soul" would've turned 74 years old today (Sept. 9).

Born to a father who was a sharecropper and in Georgia, Redding quit school at the age of 15 to support his family. He didn't live the blue collar life too long; he was on his way to fame after winning a string of talent contests.

Redding reached his peak artistry by his mid-20s. What made him special was how he melded gospel and secular influences together, while maximizing the soul out of both sides. For a while, the African-American community have been turning to blues as a catharsis for historical pains. Rather than salving wounds, Redding's soul pioneered a route for a present sense of empowerment. His best known songs -- "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" and "Try a Little Tenderness" -- are still considered the epitome of soul. For the uniformed, Kanye West and Jay Z's Watch the Throne hit "Otis" is built off the latter track by the singer.

But by the young age of 26, he was gone. On Dec. 10, 1967, Redding was on his way to a show in Wisconsin when he died in a plane crash right before landing. His passing is one of music's saddest tragedies. Someone who's still considered a king died so young.

Watch Otis Redding Perform "Try a Little Tenderness"

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