How Otis Redding’s final 24 hours solidified his legacy

Tyler Golsen SAT 10TH DEC 2022 05.00 GMT

Otis Redding was ready for something new. Having established himself as the premiere R&B and soul singer in America, Redding had conquered the first stage of his career. He already had six studio albums to his name, including one duet LP with Carla Thomas, and had burst into the mainstream thanks to his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Aretha Franklin had already taken his song ‘Respect’ to number one. 1967 was a great year for Otis Redding, and 1968 was bound to be even greater.

There were just some loose ends that needed to be tied up before the end of the year. The musician had a few scheduled gigs left to do, and in between, Redding was busy recording a brand-new song. Featuring a relaxed tempo and an atypical melody, Redding believed this new work would be his biggest song yet, one that would give him a number one hit of his own. He would turn out to be right, even if he never got to see it himself.

Redding left the song mostly complete. He insisted to producer and songwriter Steve Cropper that he would overdub the whistle at the end of the tune and even kicked around the idea of having The Staple Singers record backing vocals. That would have to wait, though, as Redding had a plane to catch.

This article appears in its entirety at the magazine website Far Out. It can be read here.