CLEVELAND — Fifty-three years ago today, Otis Redding, considered one of the greatest singers in American music history, gave his last television performance ever at the News 5 studios before his tragic and untimely death.
In 1967, Redding appeared on “Upbeat,” a syndicated musical variety show that regionally rivaled American Bandstand and aired on WEWS. There in the very same place News 5 anchors deliver the news today, Redding performed a soulful rendition of “Try a Little Tenderness.”
In the media player below, watch the clip of his last performance in the News 5 studios.
A day later, Redding left on a Sunday afternoon from Cleveland for Wisconsin, but the plane carrying him and his band crashed into a lake, killing all but one person on board.
Redding had just recorded a few days earlier what would posthumously go on to be his biggest hit, "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay."
Turns out, the whistling at the end of the song is a reminder of a piece left unfinished by tragedy. Redding put the whistling at the end of the song because he had plans to write another verse when he got back to the studio after his trip to Cleveland. He never got the chance to write another verse.
“It was an amazing record and there’s just no saying how far he would have gone after having such success with that. It was the first time anybody ever had a number one record after their death," said David Spero, whose father, Herman Spero, produced "Upbeat."
Otis Redding was just 26 at the time of his death. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
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