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Otis Redding

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Otis Redding
Photo by Sulfiati Magnuson/Getty Images

16th March 1968, the posthumously released Otis Redding single ‘Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay’, started a five-week run at No.1 on the US chart, (a No.3 hit the UK). Otis was killed in a plane crash on 10th December 1967 three days after recording the song. “Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay”, became the first posthumous No.1 single in US chart history and sold over four million copies worldwide.

Redding and his band had made an appearance in Cleveland, Ohio on the local ‘Upbeat’ television show the previous day. The plane carrying Otis Redding and his band crashed at 3.28.pm into icy waters of Lake Monona near Madison. Redding was killed in the crash along with members from The Bar-Kays, Jimmy King, Ron Caldwell, Phalin Jones and Carl Cunningham. Trumpet player Ben Cauley was the only person to survive the crash.

Redding was born and raised in the American state of Georgia and at the age of 15, left school to help his family financially by working with Little Richard’s backing band The Upsetters, and playing talent shows for prize money.

In 1958, he joined Johnny Jenkins’s band, The Pinetoppers, and toured the Southern United States while serving as driver and musician. An unscheduled appearance on a session led to a turning point in his career. He signed a contract with record label Stax Records and released his debut album, Pain in My Heart, in 1964. This album produced his first single on Stax, “These Arms of Mine”.

Although initially more popular among blacks, he later became equally popular among whites. At first, he performed small gigs in the South, until he and his group performed at the nightclub Whisky a Go Go, their first concert in the Western United States. Internationally, Redding performed in Paris and London among other venues. Redding’s death was devastating for Stax, which was on the verge of bankruptcy. Later Stax discovered that Atlantic owned the rights to the singer’s entire catalog.

Redding wrote the first verse of the song, under the abbreviated title “Dock of the Bay,” on a houseboat at Waldo Point in Sausalito, California a short time after his appearance at The Monterey Pop Festival. Along with Jimi Hendrix Redding was the star of the festival where he had performed a sensational set in front of a predominantly white audience, (recorded for posterity in the film of the event, Monterey Pop). The recording of “Dock Of the Bay” was never completed. Redding’s familiar whistling, heard before the song’s fade was the singer fooling around, he had intended to return to the studio at a later date to add words in place of the whistling.

Redding won numerous awards, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His legacy remains solid; he received the honorific, “King of Soul”.

Important Dates In The Life Of Otis Redding:

On this day in music
5 Dec 2022
Jim Stewart, founder of the influential southern soul label Stax Records, died aged 92. As the founder of Stax, Stewart was responsible for signing and nurturing the careers of many of soul and R&B’s most influential figures, including Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Albert King and the Bar-Kays.
21 Jun 2016
Trumpeter Wayne Jackson, who formed the Memphis Horns duo with saxophonist Andrew Love, died of congestive heart failure at the age of 74. Jackson and Love played together on 52 No.1 songs, supporting the likes of Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Otis Redding, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Peter Gabriel and the Doobie Brothers.
21 Sep 2015
Trumpeter Ben Cauley, a member of the Stax Records group The Bar-Kays and the only survivor of the 1967 plane crash that killed Otis Redding died at the age of 67. The Bar-Kays appeared as the backing band on numerous recordings for Stax artists such as Carla Thomas, Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, The Staple Singers and Sam and Dave.
12 Apr 2012
Saxophone player Andrew Love died aged 70. He was best known for being a member of The Memphis Horns with trumpet player Wayne Jackson where the two created the signature horn sound at Stax Records on hit records by Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and others such as Neil Diamond, Elvis Presley and Dusty Springfield.
27 Jan 2006
American singer, songwriter, and record producer Gene McFadden, best known as half of the Philly soul team McFadden & Whitehead, died of cancer at the age of 56. The duo who were discovered by Otis Redding, who acted as their manager had the 1979 hit 'Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now', which sold more than 8 million copies and was nominated for a Grammy Award.
24 Feb 2004
Estelle Axton, who helped create the legendary US soul music label Stax, died in hospital in Memphis, aged 85. Stax was home to Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, Isaac Hayes and Booker T and the MG's and the Stax studio, 'Soulsville USA', was second only to Motown in its production of soul hits during its 1960s heyday.
23 Nov 2002
Otis Reddings' widow and his former manager filed a lawsuit against the author of a biography written in 2001 about the R&B legend, claiming the book was filled with lies. The lawsuit, filed in Atlanta's Fulton County, sought $15 million in damages and claimed that the book detailed rumors about the singer's drug use, extramarital affairs and divorce, causing "harm to the plaintiffs." It also cites rumors that Otis' manager plotted with the Mafia to kill Otis by causing the plane to crash in order to claim $1 million in life insurance.
27 Oct 2002
American record producer Tom Dowd died of emphysema. He recorded albums by many artists including: Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Derek and the Dominos, Rod Stewart, Aretha Franklin, Cream, Lulu, Chicago, The Allman Brothers Band, The J. Geils Band, Meat Loaf, Sonny & Cher, The Rascals, Willie Nelson, Diana Ross, Kenny Loggins, Dusty Springfield, The Drifters and Otis Redding.
8 Oct 1992
The US Postal Service issued a set of commemorative stamps to celebrate pop music legends. The stamps included Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Otis Redding Ritchie Valens, Clyde McPhatter and Dinah Washington.
18 Jan 1989
At just 38 years old, Stevie Wonder became the youngest living person to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At a ceremony held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, other inductees include The Rolling Stones, The Temptations, Otis Redding and Dion DiMucci.
1 Oct 1975
39 year old Al Jackson, drummer for Booker T. And The MGs, was shot and killed by a burglar at his home. His wife was questioned about the killing because she was arrested in July for shooting her husband in the chest during a domestic dispute. He wasn't badly hurt and the charges were dismissed when his wife claimed self-defense. Jackson had returned home to what police described as a botched robbery attempt. According to Jackson's wife, an intruder made her answer the door and then threw her husband to the floor demanding money. Jackson was forced to lie face down and then was shot in the back five times. The identity of the culprit remains a mystery. Booker T had backed such artists as Otis Redding, Al Green and Sam and Dave.
5 Sep 1970
Janis Joplin started recording sessions recording a version of the Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster song 'Me and Bobby McGee'. Joplin, (who was a lover and a friend of Kristofferson's from the beginning of her career to her death), topped the US singles chart with the song in 1971 after her death, making the song the second posthumous No.1 single in US chart history after '(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay' by Otis Redding.
22 Jun 1968
The Otis Redding album Dock Of The Bay went to No.1 in the UK. The posthumously released album, and his sixth studio album contained a number of singles and B-sides dating back to 1965 and one of his best known songs, the posthumous hit (Sittin' On The Dock) Of The Bay.
16 Mar 1968
The posthumously released Otis Redding single '(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay' started a five week run at No.1 on the US chart, (a No.3 hit the UK). Otis was killed in a plane crash on 10th December 1967 three days after recording the song. 'Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay', became the first posthumous No.1 single in US chart history and sold over four million copies worldwide.
11 Mar 1968
The Otis Redding single '(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay' went gold in the US three months after the singer was killed in a plane crash. Recorded just days before his death, it became the first posthumous single to top the charts in the US.
21 Feb 1968
Otis Redding had his first entry on the UK singles chart when '(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay' entered the chart, it went on to be a No.3 hit. The song became the first posthumous single to top the charts in the US.
10 Dec 1967
American soul singer, songwriter Otis Redding was killed in a plane crash, aged 26. Redding and his band had made an appearance in Cleveland, Ohio on the local ‘Upbeat’ television show the previous day. The plane carrying Otis Redding and his band crashed at 3.28.pm into icy waters of Lake Monoma near Madison. Redding was killed in the crash along with members from the The Bar-Kays, Jimmy King, Ron Caldwell, Phalin Jones and Carl Cunningham. Trumpet player Ben Cauley was the only person to survive the crash.
7 Dec 1967
Otis Redding went into the studio to record '(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay'. The song went on to be his biggest hit. Redding didn't see its release; he was killed three days later in a plane crash. Redding wrote the first verse of the song, under the abbreviated title 'Dock of the Bay', on a houseboat at Waldo Point in Sausalito, California a short time after his appearance at The Monterey pop festival. Redding's familiar whistling, heard before the song's fade was the singer fooling around, he had intended to return to the studio at a later date to add words in place of the whistling.
16 Jun 1967
The three day Monterey Pop Festival in California began. All the proceeds went to charity when all the artists agreed to perform for free, the 'Summer of Love' was born. The festival saw the first major US appearances by The Who, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Also on the bill: The Byrds, Grateful Dead, Otis Redding, Simon And Garfunkel, The Steve Miller Band, Canned Heat, The Mamas & the Papas, Jefferson Airplane, Buffalo Springfield and The Electric Flag. John Phillips, of The Mamas & the Papas wrote, 'San Francisco, (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)' to promote the festival, which later became a hit for Scott McKenzie.
3 Jun 1967
Aretha Franklin went to No.1 on the US singles chart with her version of the Otis Redding hit 'Respect'. A No.10 hit on the UK chart. Aretha scored her first UK No.1 20 years later with a duet with George Michael 'I Knew You Were Waiting'.
8 Apr 1967
Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd, Arthur Conley and Booker T And The MG's all appeared at London's Hammersmith Odeon, England.
15 Sep 1965
Otis Redding released his third studio album Otis Blue. The album mainly consists of cover songs by popular R&B and soul artists, and, bar one track, was recorded in a 24-hour period over July 9/10 1965 at the Stax Recording Studios in Memphis, Tennessee and includes the classic tracks 'Ole Man Trouble", 'Respect', and 'Down in the Valley'.
9 Jul 1965
Otis Redding started recording sessions at Stax Studios in Memphis, Tennessee for what would become his third studio album Otis Blue. The album mainly consists of cover versions of other R&B and soul artists hits, and, bar one track, was recorded in a 24-hour period. According to the drummer, Al Jackson, Redding wrote 'Respect', after a conversation they had during a break in the recording session, in which he told Redding: "You're on the road all the time. All you can look for is a little respect when you come home."
24 Mar 1965
The Temptations released 'Its Growing', the follow-up to 'My Girl'. The track was the first to feature David Ruffin as the Temptations new lead singer. Interestingly both 'My Girl' and 'Its Growing' were the only Motown tunes ever covered by Otis Redding.
14 Feb 1965
Otis Redding recorded 'Respect' at Atlantic Studio, New York City. At first a ballad, 'Respect' was written by Redding for Speedo Sims, who intended to record it with his band, the Singing Demons. Redding rewrote the lyrics and sped up the rhythm. The song became a 1967 hit and signature song for soul singer Aretha Franklin.
17 May 1963
The first Monterey Folk Festival took place over three days in Monterey, California. The festival featured Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Peter Paul and Mary. The 1967 Monterey Rock festival is remembered for the first major American appearances by Jimi Hendrix and The Who as well as the first major public performances of Janis Joplin. It was also the first major performance by Otis Redding in front of a predominantly white audience.
5 Aug 1957
American Bandstand first aired on US TV. Dick Clark had replaced Bob Horn the previous year when the show was still called Bandstand, Clark went on to host the show until 1989. Countless acts appeared on the show over the years, including ABBA, The Doors, Talking Heads, Madonna, Otis Redding, R.E.M. and Pink Floyd.
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