who died way too young
in a plane crash
. Originated many songs that others covered (such as "Respect" before Aretha Franklin
did it) but sang some of them, such as "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay
" so well that no cover could ever eclipse
He started out as a child singing in the church choir and eventually at age 15 dropped out of school to try and help support his family as a singer. In 1960 he joined Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers, and in 1962 when the band was supposed to be recording at Stax Studios in Memphis but the session wasn't going well, he was allowed to record some other work. This turned out to be "These Arms of Mine," his first hit.
He wrote and arranged all his own songs, and was president of his own publishing firm, rare in the 1960s. Most of his songs were recorded with the backing of Booker T. and the MG's at Stax. Among his big hits were "Mr. Pitiful," "Dum-dum-dum (Happy Song)", "Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa (Sad song)," "I've Been Loving You Too Long," "Try A Little Tenderness," "My Lovers Prayer," "Hard To Handle," "Just One More Day," "Knock On Wood," "I Can't Turn You Loose," "Shake," "I've Got Dreams To Remember," "Ole Man Trouble," "Respect," "That's How Strong My Love Is," versions of The Beatles' "Day Tripper" and The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction," and possibly most identified with him, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay." This last was not released until after his death on December 10, 1967, in a plane crash which also killed four members of the Stax Band the Bar-Kays but became his biggest hit.