The tragic death of soul legend Otis Redding

7 April 2022, 13:09 | Updated: 14 April 2022, 11:52

Otis Redding died in a plane crash in 1967
Otis Redding died in a plane crash in 1967. Picture: Alamy

By Naomi Bartram

Soul legend Otis Redding died in a plane crash near Madison when he was just 26-years-old.

Otis Redding was one of the most popular soul musicians in the 1960s, capturing the nation with his stunning vocal range.

But his time was tragically cut short when he was killed in a plane crash on December 10th 1967 at the age of just 26-years-old.

Here’s a look back at his life and death…

Otis Redding was tragically killed in a plane crash
Otis Redding was tragically killed in a plane crash. Picture: Alamy

Otis was born in Dawson, Georgia, and had his first taste of music stardom at age 15 when he worked with Little Richard's backing band, the Upsetters.

Here, he performed in talent shows at the historic Douglass Theatre in Macon, before he joined Johnny Jenkins's band, the Pinetoppers in 1958 and toured the Southern states.

Things changed for Otis in 1962, when he made an unscheduled appearance on a Stax recording session and bagged a contract and his first hit single, 'These Arms of Mine'.

Two years later, the soul star released his debut album, 'Pain in My Heart', and went on to tour around Europe.

Otis Redding Try A Little Tenderness (Last Performance Dec 9, 1967)

As well as starring in a run of shows at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, he recorded a follow-up album which was released in 1965 called The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads.

In 1967, Aretha Franklin famously rerecorded Redding’s 'Respect' from this album, and it shot all the way to number one.

Later that year, Redding returned to the studio at Stax to begin writing songs for a new album.

Here, he recorded what was to become his first, and only, number one hit, 'Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay'.

Three days after the recording session, Otis and his band were in the middle of a short concert tour, so got on the plane to make the short flight to his next gig in Madison.

Otis Redding last performed on December 9, 1967
Otis Redding last performed on December 9, 1967. Picture: Alamy

It was bad weather conditions for flying and the pilot had been advised to delay the takeoff, but the band needed to get to their upcoming show.

The plane sadly crashed in a small lake, killing seven of the eight passengers.

Showing the star’s popularity, Redding’s funeral had to be delayed so his family could find a bigger venue for his fans to attend.

It was held in City Auditorium, Macon, and 4,500 people turned up to pay tribute to the young star.

Following his death, Otis received many awards, including two Grammy Awards, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Black Music & Entertainment Walk of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Nicknamed the ‘King of Soul’, his style of singing has continued to influence many other soul artists over the years.