The song “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding is one of the more haunting and beautiful 60s songs. Otis Redding co-wrote this soul song with guitarist for Booker T and the M.G.’s Steve Cropper. Redding recorded it twice in 1967 at Stax Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, and died when his plane crashed into Lake Monona near Madison, Wisconsin, just shortly before the recorded was released. He was 26 years old. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” went on to become his biggest hit and the first posthumous #1 single in the U.S. In 1968, it rose to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, #1 on the Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles Chart, and #2 on the U.K. Singles Chart. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” is among Rolling Stone Magazine’s 400 Greatest Songs of All Time List. The album The Dock of the Bay was the first posthumous album to reach #1 on the U.K. Charts.
At the time Redding was writing the song, he had just finished his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. He had been in San Francisco playing at the Fillmore when he stayed at a boathouse in Sausalito and liked the idea of the ships coming in at the bay. Redding had recorded the whistling at the end of the song because he forgot the words to a rap he was going to put there. Steve Cropper did a final mix of the song after Redding’s death. He added the sounds of waves and seagulls, which Cropper said Redding had wanted. Sam “Bluzman” Taylor re-did the whistling at the end.
Numerous artists from many genres have covered the song, including Glen Campbell, Cher, Boby Dylan, Percy Sledge, Dee Clark, Michael Bolton, Pearl Jam, Garth Brooks, and Sammy Hagar, just to mention a few.
Redding was born Otis Ray Redding, Jr. in Dawson, Georgia. Whether he was called The Big O or The King of Soul, he was mutli-talented. He was a singer, songwriters, record producer, arranger, and talent scout. Besides “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” he is known for “Respect” and “Try a Little Tenderness.”