Today in 1967, as Otis Redding made his way to a gig in Wisconsin, the plane on which he and his backing band were travelling crashed into the icy waters of Lake Monona just a few miles from their destination, ending the lives of Redding and six others. A few days before his death, Redding, still only 26, had returned to the recording studio to revisit an as-yet-unreleased song, but departed dissatisfied: the lyrics of its final verse, to be rapped, had proven elusive, so instead he simply whistled the melody. That song, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” was released posthumously less than a month after his death and immediately sat atop the charts, and those whistled notes, so perfectly placed, embedded themselves in the minds of millions. Tributes poured in from all corners following his death. This one, sent to Redding’s grieving family, came from James Brown.
OTIS REDDING AND FAMILY
YOUR BEREAVEMENT IS SAD I KNOW AT THIS TIME I CAN’T THINK OF NO ONE IN THE WORLD TO TAKE HIS PLACE WE OF THE BLACK RACE HAVE LOST A VERY TURE AND DEVOTED ARTIST AND BROTHER. HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A REAL BROTHER TO ME. MY LOVE FOR HIM COULD NEVER BE EXPRESSED ENOUGH AS YOU WELL KNOW. WE WERE THE VERY BEST OF FRIENDS AND I HOPE TO REMAIN THE SAME AS IF HE WERE NOT DEPARTED. IF THERE IS ANYTHING I CAN DO PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CALL ON ME. I REMAIN AS ALWAYS WITH DEEPEST SYMPATHY. FROM ONE SOUL BROTHER TO ANOTHER. SINCERELY A TRUE FRIEND
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