DEAD: ON THIS DATE
Otis Redding (aged 26)
American singer, songwriter and record producer (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay)
Otis Ray Redding Jr. (September 9, 1941 – December 10, 1967) was an American singer, songwriter, record producer, arranger, and talent scout. 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. His singing style influenced many other soul artists of the 1960s. During his lifetime, his recordings were produced by Stax Records, based in Memphis, Tennessee.
DEATH: By 1967, the band was traveling to performances in Redding’s Beechcraft H18 airplane. On December 9, 1967, they appeared on the Upbeat television show produced in Cleveland. They played three concerts in two nights at a club called Leo’s Casino.After a phone call with his wife and children, Redding’s next stop was Madison, Wisconsin; the next day, Sunday, December 10, they were to play at the Factory nightclub, near the University of Wisconsin.
Although the weather was poor, with heavy rain and fog, and despite warnings, the plane took off. Four miles (6.4 km) from their destination at Truax Field in Madison, the pilot radioed for permission to land. Shortly thereafter, the plane crashed into Lake Monona. Bar-Kays member Ben Cauley, the accident’s only survivor, was sleeping shortly before the accident. He woke just before impact to see bandmate Phalon Jones look out a window and exclaim, “Oh, no!” Cauley said the last thing he remembered before the crash was unbuckling his seat belt. He then found himself in frigid water, grasping a seat cushion to keep afloat. A non-swimmer, he was unable to rescue the others. The cause of the crash was never determined. James Brown claimed in his autobiography The Godfather of Soul that he had warned Redding not to fly in the plane.
The other victims of the crash were four members of the Bar-Kays—guitarist Jimmy King, tenor saxophonist Phalon Jones, organist Ronnie Caldwell, and drummer Carl Cunningham; their valet, Matthew Kelly; and the pilot, Richard Fraser.