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Madison, Wisconsin

Otis Redding Memorial Plaque

A bronze plaque marks the site of the only show the King of the Soul Singers ever missed. 

The story of soul music legend Otis Redding is a tragic one. A mythically gifted vocalist, Redding would not achieve the pinnacle of his fame until after his death in a plane crash over Wisconsin’s Lake Monona. Today a plaque set into a scenic overlook remember the site where he met his fate. 

The skies were heavy with rain and fog on December 10th, 1967, but Redding and his bandmates need to get to a scheduled show in Madison, Wisconsin, and Redding, ever the devoted showman would not let the weather stop them. Literally flying in the face of warnings against it, Redding and crew boarded their private Beech Model 18 and took off into the sky, never to land alive. The plane was just four miles out from its destination in Madison, when the craft crashed into Lake Monona, killing all but one of the passengers, including Redding. 

No one is sure exactly what went wrong during the flight, but whatever it was, it robbed the world of a talented star on the rise. Just days after his death, Otis Redding would receive his first and only number one Billboard single, (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay, but it was too late.

Today a plaque has been installed in a rooftop garden by the Otis Redding Memorial Fund. The view looks out over the lake where Redding died, and there are a trio of benches for visitors to sit and ponder the man’s legacy. As the plaque states, the Madison show he was trying to get to was the only one he ever missed. 

Know Before You Go

Right next to the Lake Vista Cafe on the rooftop garden facing Lake Monona.