Otis Redding dies enroute to Madison Wi.

Otis Redding

Otis Redding (Wiki Commons)

Otis Redding’s Beachcraft H-18 crashes into Lake Monona on December 10th, 1967.

Writing about great losses and sorrowful events can be difficult. Where does one begin a story where the world loses a musical icon? How does one tell the events of how a great artist leaves us so soon and so tragically?

I guess you start by defining the scope of the artistry that someone like Otis Redding possessed.

Born in Dawson Georgia on September 9th,1941, Otis Ray Redding, Jr. started working in Little Richard’s backing band, The Upsetters at age 15, to help support his family. By 1962 he had his own recording contract with the legendary R&B record label Stax, who released his debut album “Pain In My Heart” in 1964. His recordings helped define the Stax sound and his powerful vocal abilities continue to influence singers worldwide. Topping the charts with singles such as “Try A Little Tenderness”, “These Arms Of Mine” and his posthumous single “(Sitting On)The Dock Of The Bay.” These recordings are cornerstones of Rhythm And Blues and popular music in general. Otis’s hard work payed off earning him the title “The Crown Prince Of Soul.” Redding would never miss a gig unless it was absolutely necessary.

Otis Redding was scheduled to play The Factory nightclub in Madison, Wisconsin at 6:30p.m., on December 10th, 1967, after a 3 gig stint in Cleveland and a appearance on the television show Upbeat.  Despite poor weather conditions and travel warnings, The Bar-Kays, who were working as his backing band, and Otis boarded the small twin prop plane he had purchased for himself to make touring less stressful for his next gig in Madison. The pilot radioed Truax Field for permission to land but tragically, a mere four miles from the airport, the plane engulfed in heavy fog, crashed into Lake Monona around 3:30p.m.

One member of The Bar-Kays survived. Otis Redding, the pilot and the four other members of the Bar-Kays perished in the crash. Otis Redding’s body was recovered the next day from the icy waters of Lake Monona. The Search for bodies continued into the following Tuesday. Redding’s attache case which he carried with him was never recovered. The case is believed to be where Otis kept his cash. The cause of the crash was never determined. A plaque and bench in remembrance of Otis Redding on Madison’s Monona Terrace overlooking Lake Monona is a wonderful place for those wishing to honor the Crown Prince Of Soul in a peaceful setting.

Otis Redding left behind his wife Zelma and their seven year old son Dexter.

And how do you finish and close a story like Otis Redding’s?

Maybe just by taking his advice.Try a little tenderness.Today and all days.

Yes.That’s it.

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