Left: Check issued to Otis by Confederate Record Co.
Bottom: Otis in Bobby Smith studio...
Here it the true story of Confederate Record Co. and Otis Redding, direct from Bobby Smith:
One afternoon in the summer of 1961, Otis Redding came into my receptionist’s office and asked to see me. Otis said he was a singer and wanted to see if I was interested in him. I asked in he had a tape with original material on it, and he said he didn’t have a tape but would sing for me. I told him to go ahead and sing one of his original songs. He sang “Shout Bamalama.” I signed Otis to a recording contract with Confederate Records. I obtained studio time at the University of Georgia ’s channel 8 TV studios in Athens to record Otis and several other artists. The Sunday morning before the session, Otis called me and said that Johnny Jenkins couldn’t go. I told Otis that I would call it off for a couple of weeks. Otis said, “I know a guitar player almost as good as Johnny Jenkins (Carl “Guitar” Jr.), so we asked him to play and he did a great job on the recording session.
Otis and I went on the road promoting “Shout Bamalama”. Stopping at Augusta radio station WTHB, we were told by the DJ it would be played if it were taken off the Confederate-flagged record label. I promised to do so. We went on to Columbia , SC and met with a program director, Big Saul at radio station WOIC, who also promised heavy play, but only if the label was changed. Otis and I hit it off very well with Big Saul. As we drove and listened to legendary DJ John R on Nashville ’s WLAC, Otis said, “Bobby, if that man played my record I would think I had made it”. When we returned to Macon , I wasted no time creating the Orbit label and putting “Shout Bamalama” on it. The following week I went to Nashville and talked to John R, and I explained the situation with Confederate and Orbit. John R was impressed with the record and promised me he would give it heavy duty air play. Later on, John R and I became very close friends. During that time, Otis was having difficulty paying his bills. I loaned him money several times, including letting him have $200.00 to help him move into a better residence.
I loaned Otis Redding the company station wagon to drive Johnny Jenkins to Memphis , TN to record an instrumental number. My understanding was that only Otis and Johnny Jenkins were to go. While they were at Stax Records, Otis recorded “These Arms of Mine” with Stax studio musicians backing him. The problem I had with this was that Otis Redding was under contract with Confederate Records, the recording of “Shout Bamalama” had been released, and we were actively promoting it. The original recording of “These Arms of Mine” had been done a few weeks earlier with Buddy Leach and The Playboys out of Atlanta on Confederate Records. We needed a B-side for Buddy Leach, and Otis wrote “These Arms of Mine”, for me. He came to my office to play the song for me, and Wayne Pierce, who played organ with Wayne Cochran’s band, the “Rocking Capris”, was waiting to see me also. Otis had his guitar and played the song for Wayne while they were waiting. Wayne and I both thought it was a terrific song. Otis went with me to the session to record Buddy Leach and afterward I told Otis that “These Arms of Mine” would be his next recording. That never happened on Confederate. Confederate Record Company sold Otis Redding’s contract in 1962 to Jim Stewart of Stax and Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records. Otis and I remained good friends, and from time to time he would come by and visit with me.