When Otis Redding took the final trip of his life on Dec 10th of 1967, he was on top of the world. Arguably the greatest soul act of the day, he was also on the cusp of a transformation. Most of "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay" had recently been completed, and pointed to a new direction Redding (and co-writer, MG guitarist Steve Cropper) may have been heading with his music.
Tragically, he would not live to see his greatest crossover success, and at a mere 26 years old, was killed when his plane crashed into a small lake en route to an appearance in Madison, Wisconsin. All but one of the 8 men on board lost their lives.
Redding, along with Sam Cooke and later Marvin Gaye, became one of the biggest losses the music world would ever know.
I love Otis Redding. I was lucky to have found him at a young age, stumbling across my uncle's well-played copy of the "In Person At The Whisky A Go Go" LP. In my opinion, it is the greatest live album of all time because the tracks all outdo the studio versions of the same songs. "Just One More Day" in particular punched me in the gut. The mourning horns, and Otis's glass and gravel rasp are beautifully evocative. How in the world did a young man in his TWENTIES embody such a mature spirit and produce the sound of a man in his fifties or sixties? Otis was still a kid when he wrote and sang so many of these timeless songs. "These Arms Of Mine," "Ole Man Trouble," "Good To Me," "I've Been Loving You Too Long," "Respect," (and even covers like "Try A Little Tenderness," and "Cigarettes and Coffee") are all perfect.
Thankfully, Otis is forever encased in a time capsule. Forever 26. Preserved in the '60's in his sharp suits and in some of the most stirring selections of soul music ever pressed into vinyl. He will never make any of the missteps that befell his peers. We will never have to cringe at any unfortunate dabbling in funky '70's sounds or see him in neon clothes, singing synth-laden 1980's pop-soul dance tracks of the sort that kept Queen Aretha and others careers afloat in changing musical climates.
Fortunately, he left a wealth of material from the greatest time period soul music has ever known. Otis sang, "we are all only here just for a little while" in his song "Remember Me." His time was truly a Little While, but what he did in that time was tremendous and I will forever be thankful for it.
Otis Redding isn't dead. It's still 1967 where he lives, and he is at the peak of his powers.
Causes Colin Nasseri Supports