On Thursday, Otis Redding had gone into Stax Studios in Memphis to add some overdubs to his latest song, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” Written (legend has it) on a houseboat in Sausalito after Otis’ appearance at Monterey Pop, this was a stylistic departure from his previous work. According to yon Wikipedia,

Redding was inspired by the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and tried to create a similar sound, against the label’s wishes. His wife Zelma disliked its atypical melody. The Stax crew were also dissatisfied with the new sound; [studio chief Jim] Stewart thought that it was not R&B, while bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn feared it would damage Stax’s reputation. However, Redding wanted to expand his musical style and thought it was his best song, correctly believing it would top the charts.

On Friday and Saturday, he and his band played shows and appeared on a TV show in Cleveland. Early Sunday afternoon they boarded Otis’s Beechcraft H18 to fly to Madison, Wisconsin. He asked a lot of this twin-engine plane, his pride and joy; no less an aviation authority than James Brown had warned him,

That plane is not big enough to be doing what you’re doing. It can’t carry all those people and all that equipment. You shouldn’t be messing around with it like that.

But Otis had confidence, and despite the hostile winter weather, was determined the play that night’s gig in Madison. Four miles from the airport, the plane went down in Lake Monona. Otis Redding perished along with four members of his backing band, the Bar-Kays. He was 26.

That’s right, 26 — 11 months younger than John Lennon, and 9 months older than Paul McCartney. It’s hard to believe that he was so young because he had such gravitas. When he died, plans were already in place for him to make a move into film; where might he have gone from there? Senator? President? Leader of a world government where all would live in soulful peace and harmony under the benevolent rule of King Otis?

Well, it seems reasonable to me.

0 0 vote
Article Rating