by Sean Smith
On December 10, 1967, 47 years ago yesterday, the music industry tragically lost a young star with the premature death of Otis Redding. The R&B legend lost his life when his plane crashed while en route to Madison, Wisconsin where he was scheduled to perform the following day. He was just 26 years of age.
Otis Redding stood out as an artist due in large part to his unique and sincere delivery. Despite his young age, Redding was able to convey the emotion behind his songs in a special way. It was as if he was living each lyric that he sung, and he possessed the unique ability to allow the listener to experience a similar emotional connection through hearing his music. It is part of the reason why his music still resonates with new audiences today. If only Otis Redding had lived to see his 30’s or 40’s, with more life experience, imagine the musical gems he most assuredly would have created.
In his abbreviated career, Otis Redding provided us with a number of great songs. He gave us “These Arms of Mine” from his 1964 debut album Pain in my Heart. In 1965, off his third studio album, he gave us the iconic single “Respect”, which was later revised and made into a huge hit by the great Aretha Franklin. And of course there was “Try a Little Tenderness”, which was given new life and a new audience when Kanye West and Jay Z sampled it on their 2011 crossover hit aptly titled “Otis”. But for this week’s edition of #tbt here on Clizbeats, I want to remember the most successful single of Otis Redding’s unfortunately short career. His iconic song “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”.
Just three days prior to the plane crash on December 10th that ended his life, Otis Redding was in Memphis, Tennessee recording songs in his label’s recording studio. One of the songs he recorded that day was “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”, a song that he had began writing just a few months prior. During the recording session he was working with Steve Cropper, a songwriter, producer, and house guitarist for his label Stax Records. It was Cropper who helped Redding finish writing the now iconic song during that session and therefore allowing for its recording prior to Redding’s death. Although, it is rumored that the song was never fully completed. It has been said that the familiar whistling at the end of the song was only meant to be a place holder during the recording session that would later be replaced by another verse. However, after the untimely death of Otis Redding, the song was mastered by Cropper and released in 1968 with the whistling included. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” would later go on to reach the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It would become the first chart topping song of Redding’s career, as well as the first posthumous single to top the Billboard charts in the US.
And so in remembrance of the untimely death of the great Otis Redding, who died in a tragic plane crash 47 years ago yesterday, today we remember his posthumous chart topping single “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”. Enjoy!
“(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay”
From The Dock Of The Bay
From Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul,
“Respect”(Written By Otis Redding)
From I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
From Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul
From Watch The Throne
Roc Nation/Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam Records/Island Def Jam Music Group