They happened five years apart, but January 27th is a pretty historical day in the careers of two Soul music giants, because it was on this day that bothOtis Redding and Stevie Wonder proved a whole bunch of critics wrong.
The first came for Redding, who unfortunately didn’t get a chance to see the release of his new single(Sittin’ on the) Dock of the Bay on this day in 1968. The single’s release came 47 days after the legendary singer died in a Wisconsin plane crash. Leading up to the song’s recording, he told anyone that would listen (and many that wouldn’t) that the tune would be his first pop No. 1. Most dismissed the track as a change in Otis’ sound that wouldn’t last long.
Though Otis wasn’t around long enough to test out the staying power of the new sound, he was right in his prediction. The song would hit No. 1 just a few months later, marking his first – and only – No. 1 pop tune. It would later become one of the first four songs to be given a “million-air” award, marking its one-millionth radio play.
Exactly five years later, on this day in 1973, the new Billboard charts were released. There was a new No. 1 atop the Hot 100 singles: Stevie Wonder’s newest tune, Superstition.
That wouldn’t surprise many. Stevie had a whole bunch of chart-topping hits in his hey day, but the significance of this No. 1 listing is that it came 10 years after his first hit, Fingertips- Part 2, topped the charts.
Like Redding, many doubters wondered if Stevie would top the charts again. He had several songs crack the top five (My Cherie Amore at No. 4, Uptight andSigned, Sealed, Delivered at No. 3, I Was Made to Love Her and For Once in My Life at No. 2), he couldn’t seem to clear that hurdle to the top of the charts again.
That changed with the Talking Book album and theSuperstition single.
Five of Wonder’s next 10 singles would top the charts. That included his next release, You Are the Sunshine of My Life, as well as I Wish, Sir Duke andYou Haven’t Done Nothin’ (which features backing vocals by the Jackson 5).
Not a bad run at all.