A Tribute to a King

Album: The Very Best Of William Bell (1968)
Charted: 31 86

Songfacts®:

  • The music world was stunned when a plane carrying Otis Redding and his backing band fatally crashed into Lake Monona, near Madison, Wisconsin. Shocked by the death of the King of Soul, fellow Stax/Volt artist William Bell released this touching memorial song. Though it was the B-side to "Every Man Ought to Have A Woman" most DJs flipped the single and made the track a hit.
  • William Bell didn't intend this to be a single. He recalled to Mojo:

    "It was like therapy for me. It was like cleansing, I needed closure on this idea that he's dead. I saw him on the Friday before he left (Stax's studio) and Sunday he'd gone. I wrote it to give (Redding's wife) Zelma and the family. I didn't have any idea to release it.

    Booker and I got together. I told him, I'm going to write this down. I came to studio the next day and Jim (Stewart, Stax co-founder) loved it so we had a little ole two-track tape recorder and Jim said, 'Why don't we tape it?' I said I really don't want to put a record out - everybody was trying to come out with We Love You Otis, We Miss You Otis, and I didn't want anybody to think I was trying to capitalise on his death.

    I told Jim, I just want to send this to Zelma. So we did. Then I get this call, you've got to release this. Jim wanted to release it. (Stax co-founder) Estelle Axton wanted to. Zelma wanted to, and I didn't. I fought against it a while, then I said, I'll release only if you put it on my next single as the B-side. So we compromised. But when the jocks got the record they all went on the B-side."

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