In diving suits, from left, Charles Campbell, Travis Brann and Phil Sharrow following their first dive on soul and R&B star Otis Redding's wrecked Beechcraft H18 aircraft, December 1967.  -- Wisconsin State Journal

In diving suits, from left, Charles Campbell, Travis Brann and Phil Sharrow following their first dive on soul and R&B star Otis Redding's wrecked Beechcraft H18 aircraft, December 1967.

Wisconsin State Journal

December 1967: Madison plane crash kills soul star Otis Redding

Otis Redding was primed to take over the pop music world in the mid-1960s. His 1965 album "Otis Blue" topped the United States R&B charts on the strength of now-classics "I've Been Loving You Too Long" and Sam Cooke cover "A Change Is Gonna Come,"  helping him begin crossing over to pop audiences. He reached the peak of his stardom in June 1967 when Aretha Franklin cemented her own legend by co-opting his original song "Respect," and Redding delivered a mythic performance as a headliner at the Monterey International Pop Festival, closing the second day of the festival with "Try A Little Tenderness."

 

In December, Redding began work on his new album, including initial recordings for the song "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay." He left the studio for a television performance and club dates in Cleveland, Ohio then continued on to Madison, Wisconsin. 

On December 10, 1967 Otis Redding and his bandmates approached Madison in his Beechcraft H18 aircraft. For reasons that were never determined, the plane never made it to the airport and instead plummeted into the frigid Lake Monona, tragically killing Redding and six others. 

The wreckage of soul and R&B star Otis Redding's Beechcraft H18 aircraft being pulled out of Lake Monona in December 1967. The plane crashed in poor weather on December 10, killing Redding, fellow musicians Matthew Kelly, Jimmy King, Phalon Jones, Ronnie Caldwell, Carl Cunningham, and pilot Richard Fraser. -- Wisconsin State Journal

The wreckage of soul and R&B star Otis Redding's Beechcraft H18 aircraft being pulled out of Lake Monona in December 1967. The plane crashed in poor weather on December 10, killing Redding, fellow musicians Matthew Kelly, Jimmy King, Phalon Jones, Ronnie Caldwell, Carl Cunningham, and pilot Richard Fraser.

Wisconsin State Journal

Redding was immortalized by the unfinished "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," which posthumously reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and has kept the King of Soul in the public consciousness nearly 50 years later.

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