Forty years ago today, soul legend Otis Redding's plane crashed into Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin and one of the great voices of all time was silenced all too soon. As hard as it is to believe from listening to the recordings he left behind, Redding was only 26 years old at the time of his unfortunate death. Many recall the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival as Jimi Hendrix's coming-out party but he wasn't the only performer to steal the show. Only six months after his starmaking set (Part 1 and Part 2), he was gone. While he lived long enough to hear Aretha Franklin steal "Respect" from him - something he wholeheartedly endorsed - he passed away before he could hear everyone but Andrew Strong try unsuccessfully to capture the emotion of "Try A Little Tenderness."
I had every intention of writing a comprehensive essay explaining Otis Redding's genius and importance only to find that it has already been done exceptionally well by Claudrena Harold at Popmatters. Do yourself a favor and check it out.