Each week on Rear-view Mirror, Rich Terfry and the Radio 2 Drive team look back at a great R&B/soul song from the good ol’ days. Today's story is the bittersweet triumph of Otis Redding.
The Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 was the first major rock festival. The lineup included Jimi Hendrix, the Who and Janis Joplin, who all gave legendary performances, but the story of that weekend in California was Otis Redding, who became a superstar on the strength of his show-stealing performance. He died just a few months after.
Riding high on his success from his world-conquering performance, Redding treated himself to a quiet getaway on a house boat in Sausalito, just up the coast from the festival site. He meant to give himself some well deserved rest, but he couldn’t switch off his creative mind. Inspiration was everywhere he looked. He began to scribble down notes for the song that would become “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.”
Shortly after, Redding headed to Memphis to record the song with his right-hand man, Steve Cropper of Booker T. & the M.G.’s. The date was Nov. 22, 1967. Two weeks later, Redding died in a plane crash in Wisconsin.
Another few weeks after his passing, the song was released and became a worldwide smash hit, and it marked the first time a posthumous release reached the number one position in U.S. chart history. It won two Grammys in 1968, became one of the most covered songs in music history, and it's regarded as one of the greatest songs ever written. Redding took over the world with this song but, sadly, he didn’t live to see it happen. He was only 26 years old when he died.
Here’s “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.”
More in this series:
Rear-view Mirror: Roberta Flack's 'Killing Me Softly With His Song'
Rear-view Mirror: James Brown’s ‘Papa's Got a Brand New Bag’
Rear-view Mirror: Gladys Knight and the Pips' 'Midnight Train to Georgia'
Rear-view mirror: Bobby Womack, reluctant star
Rear-view mirror: The Supremes trip into psychedelic pop
R&B history moment: ‘Respect’ by Aretha Franklin
Soul searching: Wendy Rene’s southern soul anthologized
MIXTAPE MONDAY: Donald 'Duck' Dunn, The Backbone of Memphis Soul
on Jun 18, 2012