Early Light: On this day in history

dock of the bay

What self respecting Boomer wouldn’t revere this day?  On January 27, 1968, Otis Redding’s (Sittin’ On) “The Dock of the Bay” was released – seven weeks after the singer’s death.  It became #1 on March 16, 1968 and remained at the top spot for a month.

To this day it remains one of my favorites along with “Try a Little Tenderness.” 


Redding began his recording career in 1960 with Johnny Jenkins and The Pinetoppers (on Confederate Records). He sang duet with Carla Thomas and had 11 chart hits. Redding of Dawson, GA was killed in a plane crash at Lake Monona near Madison, WI. Four members of the Bar-Kays were also killed in the crash. The Dock of the Bay, his only number one song, was recorded just three days before his death.

Otis Redding’s start in the music business was not what most people might think.  He got his big break working as a driver for Johnny Jenkins, who had gone to the Stax Studios in Memphis.

At that time, Jenkins had no driver’s licence so his friend Otis Redding, then an unknown singer, had driven him from Macon, Ga. to Memphis for the session. When it was over, Jenkins suggested cutting something with Redding in the remaining studio time.  A career was launched.

“His idol was Little Richard, but after he got in with Stax, Otis said, ‘I can be me now,’ ” said his wife Zelma.  She recalled that she and their children would often fly into Memphis and stay at the Holiday Inn Rivermont while Otis cut a session at Stax.  I often wonder what wonderful songs died with him in that fateful crash.

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