On this day in 1967, the man popularly dubbed “The King of Soul”, Otis Redding, died in a plane crash at the ripe age of 26.
While nobody who has ever heard his voice would guess he was that young, Redding was still mostly famous for his fantastic vocals. Songs like “Try A Little Tenderness” and “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” are still widely used throughout pop culture, with the latter even being performed by Justin Timberlake for the President at the White House.
While Redding’s original songs are undoubtedly the best present he gave the world, much of his career was marked by some amazing covers. It takes an immense amount of talent to be able to take songs like “Day Tripper” and “Satisfaction” and turn them into versatile blues hits that are still universally popular, but somehow, he did it.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Redding clearly knew how to flatter. Not only did he continuously reinvent songs with his soul-spin, but he used Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as inspiration for his last album, The Dock of the Bay, because he wanted to appeal to a larger audience. His best known song, the title track, was recorded just three days before his death, and became the first posthumous song to hit number one on the charts in the United States.
Redding only had an active solo career for about three years, but his music lives on in infamy. While having a full-length career from one of the most iconic vocalists of all time would have been a gift to the world, we were instead given three posthumous albums released through 1970. His songs will never be forgotten, instead, they always give us something to celebrate: great music, done impeccably well.