The house band at Stax Records was Booker T. and the MG’s, and they often served as Redding’s backing in the studio. His association with Stax was a fortuitous one. One of the movers and shakers at Stax Records was Steve “The Colonel” Cropper who was the guitarist for Booker T. and the MG’s and went on to further fame as one of the Blues Brothers in the studio, appearing in the movie and touring with them. Cropper began corroborating with Redding and he co-wrote Redding’s greatest hit with him (Sitting on) The Dock of the Bay. It is the Colonel’s haunting acoustic guitar that opens the tune and resonates throughout the 2:38 of the song. The song was written by Redding while on a house boat he was living on, docked at Sausalito, California, on the shore of San Francisco Bay.
A few days after (Sitting on) The Dock of the Bay was recorded, Otis boarded a plane, along with members of his backing band, the Bar-Kays. On December 10, 1967, their Beechcraft 18 crashed into a lake near Madison, Wisconsin. Otis Redding was dead at age 26, one year shy of gaining entrance to the 27 Club I wrote about last week. (Sitting on) The Dock of the Bay was released the following January and became Redding’s only number 1 hit on the charts. In fact, it was the first time in history that a record made number 1 posthumously. Redding and the Colonel won a Grammy for the song. Ironically, in my piece on the 27 Club last week, I talked about the Janis Joplin and her death. She was the second one to get a posthumous number1 with her song, Me and Bobby McGee.
Today’s mini set will include the following…
- Respect - 1965
- Mr. Pitiful - 1964
- Tramp (with Carla Thomas) - 1967
- (Sitting on) The Dock of the Bay - 1968