What’s Goin’ On

Throwback: Otis Redding

50 years ago today: 'Dock of the Bay' is No. 1


Otis Redding didn't live to see his final hit, "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay," bob to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 on this date in 1968, the first-ever posthumous No. 1 single.

The soul singer, who also wrote "Respect," was just 26 when he died in a plane crash on December 10, 1967, a few days after recording the winsome ballad. It was co-written with producer and guitarist Steve Cropper of Booker T and the MG's, the house band at Stax Records in Memphis, which played on the record.

The song was inspired by Redding's summer stint on a rented houseboat in Sausalito, California. He even insisted on adding the sound of seagulls and rolling surf to the background. Redding also wanted to ad-lib a "little fadeout rap" at the end, says Cropper, but drew a blank. So he decided to whistle.

It proved to be a haunting farewell.

"Dock of the Bay" spent four weeks at No. 1 and won Grammy Awards for Best R&B Song and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.