And the rest of the story …
It was 3:28 p.m. Dec. 10, 1967, when 26-year-old Redding’s nearly new Beechcraft Model 18 went down in the cold waters of Lake Monona three miles from the runway at Truax Field in Madison, Wis. It was foggy, rainy and cold, and there was talk of flights being grounded. Redding’s 26-year-old pilot Dick Fraser had flown just 118 hours in twin-engine aircraft. The National Transportation Safety Board never reached a firm decision about the cause of the crash, attributing it to multiple factors, which is a polite way of saying that someone displayed bad judgment.
The impact with the water split the plane open like a tube of biscuit dough, filling the fuselage with water. Ben Cauley, the Bar-Kays’ 20-year-old trumpet player and singer, was the only one of eight people on board to survive the crash. He was sitting directly behind Redding, back to back with the singer, who was buckled into the co-pilot seat.
There wasn’t room on the plane for James Alexander and Bar-Kays’ vocalist Carl Sims; they’d flown commercial from the band’s prior gig in Cleveland to Milwaukee. Alexander ended up identifying the bodies.
Contrary to urban legend, the Beech 18 Redding bought was not previously owned by James Brown.
Redding and the Bar-Kays were scheduled to play two shows at a Madison club called the Factory that night, the first at 6:30 and a later one at 9. The opening act was a local band called the Grim Reapers, which featured future Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Neilsen.
Final Resting Place:
New Park Cemetery
4536 Horn Lake Road
Memphis, Tennessee, 38119
Grave Location Description
From the entrance of the cemetery go straight down the road and stop six rows before the ditch. Look for the mid-sized “King” and “Cunningham” monuments on your left. Phalon Jones, whose body was found several days after the crash, is also buried in New Park Cemetery (on Silver Maple Avenue 200 feet north of Orangegrove Drive) while Ronnie Caldwell is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis.
Grave Location GPS35.0277667, -90.0686833
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date_of_death: December 10, 1967
cause_of_death: Plane crash
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