Today in Music History, March 16

On this date 45 years ago today in March of 1968, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding was atop the U.S. singles charts.  Redding did not live to see this success as he died, at age 26, the previous December in a plane crash in Wisconsin.

It was co-written by Redding and guitarist Steve Cropper. It was first recorded by Otis November 22 and December 8 1967, just days before his tragic death on December 10.   It was released posthumously on Stax Records‘ Volt label in 1968, becoming the first posthumous single to top the charts in the U.S.

The song features a machine sounding like the ocean waves, coming and going, as well as Redding’s familiar whistling tune, heard before the song’s fade.   Redding had intended to return to the studio at a later date to add words in place of the whistling.  There is no video of Otis Redding performing this song, but this compilation video does a good job and includes Otis talking to Steve Cropper as the recording commences.

The tune has been covered countless times. Do you know who has the top selling cover version?

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