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This Day in History

World History

Thursday, December 7, 1967. :   Otis Redding records an unfinished "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay", three days before his death in a plane crash.

     Otis Redding was an American "soul" singer. Born in Dawson, Georgia on 9 September 1941, his singing career began in the Macon church choir. He was a devoted fan of singer Little Richard, by whose music he was largely inspired, even though Redding moved more into "soul" later on.

Redding had an immensely successful career, and was a prolific songwriter. Wile touring with his backup band, the Bar-Kays in August 1967, he wrote the first verse of "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" under the shortened title "Dock of the Bay". Further lines and additions were jotted onto hotel napkins and paper over the next few months. The first version of "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" was recorded on 22 November 1967, with overdubbing completed on 7 December 1967. One verse was whistled, as Redding intended to write more lyrics and complete the recording later.

On 9 December, Redding and the Bar-kays appeared on the local "Upbeat" television show in Cleveland, Ohio. The next day, his chartered Beechcraft 18 airplane crashed into Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin, killing Redding, his manager, the pilot, and four members of The Bar-Kays. The cause of the crash was never determined.

"(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" was released posthumously on Stax Records' Volt label in 1968. It became Redding's only number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, and was the first posthumous single in US chart history.

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