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.

Read →