You had to finish “Dock of The Bay” right after losing Otis. How were you able to reconcile the task at hand with your own grief?
I just had to look at it as a job and get through it. I did this two days after… The plane went down on a Sunday morning and I starting mixing that song on Tuesday morning; hadn’t been that long. They wanted me to do it on Monday. I said, “There’s no way, guys. I can’t. I can’t even think about this.”
Did you have to add any licks or play anything else on the track?
No, I already had it done. What I did add to it was the seagulls and the waves. It’s really not anything that Otis and I talked about. Otis never heard that. We had lived with the song about two weeks with the track as you know it. We had talked, “Boy, this song would really be good with some backgrounds.” I said, “Well, I’m producing the Staple Singers. Why don’t I get them the next time they come in to do some backgrounds?” He said, “That’d be great.” Of course, that never happened. There wasn’t time for that to happen.
I kept saying when I was mixing it, “It really needs something else.” We already had horns on it. I had the guitar licks on it. It was pretty full musically, with the piano and everything. I played two guitars on it; I played the acoustic on the track and I overdubbed the guitar fills later. But I had already done that; I did the guitar fills on [the previous] Friday afternoon, Friday evening. Otis popped his head in the studio. I was just setting up mics in the control room to set up my amp and do these overdubs. He said, “I’ll see you on Monday.” I said, “Okay, man.” But the only thing I added was the waves and the seagulls. I’d just got that idea. I had to get something to eat anyway, so I called a buddy of mine at a jingle company, Pepper-Tanner, and asked him if he had a sound-effects library that might have some seagulls and some waves on it. He said, “Yeah, come on over. I’ll find you some.” So he did. I stopped and got a sandwich; I think I stopped by Leonard’s Barbeque and picked up a barbeque and took it in the control room, finished the record.