Otis Redding sets the mark for the longest span between entries on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and halts the second-longest hiatus from the Billboard Hot 100, as Jay-Z and Kanye West‘s “Otis,” on which the late soul legend receives featured billing, storms the former chart at No. 15 and the latter list at No. 47.
With the bow of “Otis” on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Redding returns to the chart for the first time since the week of Sept. 13, 1969, when his 28th and previous most recent entry, “Free Me,” logged its last week after peaking at No. 30 (and when the chart was named “Best Selling Soul Singles”).
Ending a break of 41 years, 10 months and three weeks, Redding, who was killed in a plane crash (at only 26 years of age) Dec. 10, 1967, passes another late icon, jazz luminary Cab Calloway, who waited 30 years between and three weeks between “The Calloway Boogie” (No. 13, 1948) and “Minnie the Moocher” (No. 91, 1978). (Research assist to Joel Whitburn’s “Top R&B Singles” book).
Listen: “Otis,” Kanye West & Jay-Z
On the Hot 100, Redding ends the second-longest interval between visits – although it could be argued that he claims the record among human recording acts.
Redding’s last of 26 Hot 100 hits until this week, “Love Man,” wrapped a five-week run the week of June 21, 1969 (after reaching No. 72). He therefore returns after a 42-year, one-month and two-week gap.
The only act that scampered away from the Hot 100 for a longer span? The Chipmunks. The animated group’s original lineup, billed as the Chipmunks with David Seville (and with all vocals performed by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr.) arrived with the four-week 1958 No. 1 “The Chipmunk Song” and last appeared on Dec. 29, 1962, with “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”
With the 2007 release of the holiday blockbuster film “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” the group (then voiced by Ross Bagdasarian, Jr., Janice Karman and Steve Vining) returned to the Hot 100 after 46 years and one week when “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) (2007)” debuted the week of Jan. 5, 2008. (“Witch Doctor (2007),” “Funkytown” and “Bad Day” followed a week later).
Redding passed away just three days after recording what would become his sole No. 1 on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (three weeks) and the Hot 100 (four), “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay.”
On R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Redding banked 12 top 10s between 1965 and 1969, while on the Hot 100, “Dock” is his only top 10 to-date.
“Otis,” which samples Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness,” which reached No. 4 on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 25 on the Hot 100 in 1967, launches as the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart’s second-highest debut of the 2000s. Only Usher‘s “Love in This Club Part II,” featuring Beyonce and Lil Wayne, began at a loftier rank in that span, having opened at No. 14 the week of May 14, 2008.
How might Redding feel about his chart return?
While we can’t know for certain, his daughter Karla Redding-Andrews voiced her approval of the track to Billboard.com.
“We first heard about the song in early July, end of June. Concord Music Group has the masters (of ‘Tenderness’) and Bill Belmont and Michele Smith from Concord brought it to us,” she said.
“There was a back and forth about whether the name of the song would be ‘Otis’ or ‘Otis Redding.’ We just wanted to make sure lyrics and references in the song worked with the legacy of my father.
“To have two current, legendary artists use the legendary music of Otis Redding, we were quite honored.”
“Otis” previews Jay-Z and West’s album “Watch the Throne,” due Aug. 8.