OTIS REDDING WAS 26, HE NEVER SAW 27…

January 8th, 2018


Redding was 26 when he died. I was 11.

Stuart Miller, reporting in Inside Otis Redding’s Final Masterpiece (Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay for Rolling Stone magazine, writes:

When the phone rang at the Stax/Volt studios in Memphis in late November of 1967, guitarist Steve Cropper was surprised to hear Otis Redding on the other end, calling from the airport. “Usually Otis would check into the Holiday Inn or whatever hotel he was staying at and then he’d call for me to come over and do some writing,” Cropper recalls. But this time Redding was too excited to wait. “I’ve got a hit,” he told Cropper, so he wanted to come straight to the studio to flesh his idea out into a full-fledged song.

Redding was right. When “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” was released less than two months later, it became the singer’s first million-seller and first Billboard Number One single.

He never heard the final release—50 years ago today—though, Redding died in a plane crash on 10 December 1967.

From his memorial website:

The Redding Family will be joining the world on December 10, 2017 in remembering Otis Redding 50 years after he died tragically in a plane crash at the age of 26. Redding was flying with his band in his twin-engine Beechcraft, when it crashed into Lake Monona in Madison, Wis. that tragic day in 1967. The world lost a great musician and a great man on that day.

His music and his legacy, however, live on, with his widow, Zelma Redding, and children (Dexter Redding, Otis Redding III, and Karla Redding-Andrews) keeping the flame burning for generations to come. Zelma and her daughter Karla keep Otis’ dream alive with the Otis Redding Foundation, serving the communities around the state of Georgia and beyond with the finest world-class music and arts education for its youth.

Just days before his untimely death, Redding was recording what was to become his most famous song, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” which was written on a houseboat in Sausalito, Calif. The record was released on January 8, 1968, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles charts concurrently, and becoming the first posthumous number-one single in U.S. chart history. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” is the #6 most played song on American radio and television for the 20th century, with over 10 million broadcast performances. The song also has over 100 million streams on Spotify alone, averaging 650,000 streams a week. It received two Grammy® Awards in 1969, for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Vocal Performance.

Play it again…

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