Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: “Hey little thing, let me light your candle”

Soul singer Otis Redding was born 81 years ago today (September9). At 15, he quit school to work in music and support his parents in Macon, Georgia. Three days before his tragic death in a plane crash at age 26, he recorded the iconic song, ‘(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay’ that shot up to #1 on the charts.

There is a WI angle to that classic song. From

Lake Monona (in Madison) was ice cold on the afternoon of Dec. 10, 1967.

A dismal fog shrouded Madison when residents living on the lake saw a twin-engine plane plunge from the sky.

They and the rest of the country would come to find out the plane was filled with promising musicians.

Otis Redding and his band the Bar-Kays had played shows in Nashville and Cleveland, their star rising in the music industry. Instead of playing shows that December night in Madison, their plane crashed into the water just off Tonyawatha Trail in Monona. A search for the eight band members and the wreckage of the plane spanned the next two days.

40 years after the crash, Madison welcomed back the only band member to survive the icy Mendota waters, trumpet player Ben Cauley.

Cauley played trumpet that day as a crowd gathered at the Monona Terrace to dedicate a memorial on the roof to Redding and his band.

Plaque at Monona Terrace in Madison, WI.

“(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” became the music industry’s first No. 1 posthumous record. It won two Grammys. Redding would later be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994 and receive a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.

Redding’s bandmate and co-writer on Dock of the Bay, Steve Cropper, said, “I don’t think anybody I’ve ever worked with had the impact that Otis Redding did. He was the only artist on the label that everybody–all the musicians, all the secretaries, all the employees–looked forward to seeing at the studio. Otis was your best friend when he was with you and he made you feel wanted, needed and all that.”

This song was co-written by Redding and recorded in 1967.

July 28, 2001. Cardiff Castle in Cardiff, Wales.

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