(Sittin On) The Dock of the Bay, American, Celebrity, first posthumous number one album, first posthumous number one single, Lake Monona, Otis Redding, plane crash, R&B, singer, songwriter, soul, Stax Records, the Pinetoppers, the Upsetters, Try a Little Tenderness
Otis Redding (September 9. 1941 – December 10, 1967)
Otis Ray Redding Jr. was an American singer, songwriter, record producer and arranger. He is considered one of the greatest singers in the history of American popular music and a seminal artist in soul music and rhythm and blues. Redding’s style of singing gained inspiration from the gospel music that preceded the genre. Redding was born in Dawson, Georgia, and at the age of 2, moved to Macon, Georgia. Redding quit school at age 15 to support his family, working with Little Richard’s backing band, the Upsetters, and by performing in talent shows at the historic Douglass Theatre in Macon. In 1958, he joined Johnny Jenkins’s band, the Pinetoppers, with whom he toured the Southern states as a singer and driver. An unscheduled appearance on a Stax recording session led to a contract and his first single, These Arms of Mine in 1962. Stax released Redding’s debut album, Pain in My Heart, two years later. Initially popular mainly with African-Americans, Redding later reached a wider American pop music audience. Redding’s signature song is considered to be Try a Little Tenderness. In early 1967, Redding recorded (Sittin On) The Dock of the Bay with Steve Cropper. They were inspired by the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and wanted to create a similar sound. Despite everyone else being against the idea, Redding felt he needed it to expand his musical style.
On December 10, 1967, Redding and his band were to play at the Factory nightclub, near the University of Wisconsin. Despite the poor weather conditions, his plane (a Beechcraft H18) took off and a mere 40 miles from their destination, crashed into Lake Monona. Redding’s body, band members (Jimmy King, Phalon Jones, Ronnie Caldwell and Carl Cunningham), their valet (Matthew Kelly) and the pilot’s (Richard Fraser) bodies were recovered the next day. Singer and musician Ben Cauley was the only survivor of the crash. Redding was only 26 years old.
Redding’s iconic (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay became the first posthumous number one record on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. The album The Dock of the Bay was the first posthumous album to reach number one on the UK Albums Chart. Redding’s premature death devastated Stax. Already on the verge of bankruptcy, the label soon discovered that the Atco division of Atlantic Records owned the rights to his entire song catalog. Redding received many more posthumous accolades, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.