Back in the States late 1966 saw him back on the West Coast, playing Bill Graham’ Fillmore Auditorium for around $800 to $1000 a night. In between, The Soul Album and Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul appeared under his own name and there was further chart action in the form of the gold record-winning King & Queen, cut in January 1967 with Carla Thomas, daughter of Rufus, who was studying for an M.A. in English at Howard University.

A stint back in Europe at the Paris Olympia with other performances in London and Stockholm resulted in Otis Redding: Live in Europe, but his appearance to close out the Saturday night show at the Monterey Pop Festival was as things turned out, his last major concert.

After Monterey, Redding was hospitalized after developing polyps on his larynx. He’d tried to treat the problem with tea and lemon or honey, but surgery was required. That might account for the uncharacteristic (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay, written with Steve Cropper on their friend, Earl "Speedo" Sims’ houseboat in Sausalito, but Redding was out to expand his musical style regardless of doubts expressed by his wife Zelma and the Stax Records fraternity. Bassist "Duck" Dunn was concerned it would damage the label's reputation, but Redding was adamant it would top the charts.

It did, but whether it would have managed to move four million copies worldwide without the publicity associated with the fatal plane crash shortly after Redding went back on the road is a major question mark.

There’s no doubt that Redding's premature death devastated Stax, but the writing was probably on the wall anyway. Financially, the label was sailing perilously close to the wind, and when the Stax/Volt distributor (Atlantic Records) was bought out by Warner Bros and the label needed to negotiate a new distribution agreement they learned Atlantic actually owned their entire catalogue!

Atlantic also held the rights to the unreleased Otis Redding masters, which produced three further albums of studio material: The Immortal Otis ReddingLove Man, and Tell the Truth.


© Ian Hughes 2012