It was 46 years ago today that the legendary Otis Redding died in a plain crash at the age of 26. At approximately 3:30 pm that afternoon, the plane carrying Redding and his backing band, the Bar-Kays, was on its way to a concert in Madison, Wisconsin, when it crashed in the state’s icy Lake Monoma. Everyone on board except trumpeter Ben Cauley of the Bar-Kays was killed.
Born in Dawson, Georgia, Redding recorded for the historic Stax label and was one of the most significant artists of the 1960′s. Initially a singer in guitarist Johnny Jenkins‘ band, Redding scored his first solo hit with “These Arms Of Mine.” He hit his stride as a solo performer in the mid-’60s with hits like “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” and “Tramp,” a duet with his labelmate Carla Thomas.
Although his hits were major R&B successes, Redding didn’t start to cross over to the pop charts until 1967, when Aretha Franklin scored a Number One hit with a cover of his song “Respect,” and Redding backed by Booker T. & The MG‘s performed a legendary set at the Monterey International Pop Festival.
Three months after his death, on March 16th, 1968, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay,” which was recorded just a few days before the crash, became Redding’s biggest hit, topping the singles charts for four weeks.