Wendy Rene, the budding Stax Records singing and songwriting talent who quit music after the death of Otis Redding in 1967 and saw her music revived through samples decades later, died Tuesday in Memphis, Tenn., following a stroke. She was 67.
Born Mary Frierson in Memphis, Rene was given the stage name by Redding after she and two friends auditioned at Stax Records in Memphis in 1963 and immediately received a recording deal as the Drapels. Following their first session, Rene, then 16, showed Stax co-owner Jim Stewart songs she had written and was signed as a solo artist as well.
A rarity for singers at the time, Rene only recorded songs she had written, using Booker T. and the MG's as her backing band. Her dance track "Bar-B-Q" was successful enough that she left high school to make a go of it as a performer though none of her singles ever reached a Billboard chart.