Year
1967

Music star dies in Wisconsin plane crash

A plane crash in Madison, Wisconsin, kills soul singer Otis Redding and members of the Bar-Kays band on this day in 1967. The plane crashed into Lake Monona, several miles from the Madison airport.

One survivor, Ben Cauley of the Bar-Kays, later reported that he had been asleep until just before the crash. He saw his friend in the band, Phalon Jones, look out the window of the small plane and exclaim “Oh no!” and, before he knew it, he was in a frigid lake holding onto a seat cushion. The following day, the lake was dragged and the bodies of the victims were recovered. A storm in Madison that day was a factor in the crash but the exact cause was never determined.

Redding was not the only well-known singer to die in a plane crash. In 1959, Buddy Holly, along with the lesser known J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens, were killed in a crash that is thought to have inspired Don McLean’s well-known song “American Pie.” Country singer Patsy Cline died in a 1963 crash. Ten years later, Jim Croce perished in one in Louisiana. Key members of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd died in an accident 1977. Singer John Denver was killed piloting his own plane in 1997.

Four months after his death at the age of 26, Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ on the) Dock of the Bay,” the last song he ever recorded, reached the top spot on the pop music charts. It was his first No. 1 hit.

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