R.I.P. Bar-Kays co-founder and sole crash survivor Ben Cauley

(September 24, 2015) We are sad to inform SoulTrackers of the death of Ben Cauley, co-founder of the legendary Bar-Kays and sole survivor of the tragic 1967 plane crash that killed his bandmates and soul legend Otis Redding (bassist James Alexander missed the flight altogether). Trumpeter and singer Cauley, then 19 years old, blacked out during the crash and woke up to find himself in the cold water, but unable to help his dying bandmates, as he recalled in the Unsung recounting of the tragedy (see video below).

(September 24, 2015) We are sad to inform SoulTrackers of the death of Ben Cauley, co-founder of the legendary Bar-Kays and sole survivor of the tragic 1967 plane crash that killed his bandmates and soul legend Otis Redding (bassist James Alexander missed the flight altogether). Trumpeter and singer Cauley, then 19 years old, blacked out during the crash and woke up to find himself in the cold water, but unable to help his dying bandmates, as he recalled in the Unsung recounting of the tragedy (see video below).

A year after the crash, Cauley and Alexander went on to form a new version of The Bar-Kays, which went from serving as Redding’s back-up band to a headlining group with a long career, first as a soul band with Stax Records (hitting the top ten with “Soul Finger”) and later reborn as a funk group, which had a string of hits in the 1980s (such as “Freakshow on the Dance Floor”) and continues to record to this day. Cauley left the group in 1971, as the band’s moderate success wasn’t providing enough money to support his growing family. He later suffered a stroke in 1989 which left his speech somewhat affected, but did not otherwise slow him down. He continued to perform around Memphis from time to time right up through the past few years.

Ben Cauley will forever be remembered as part of a unique period of time in the late 1960s when Memphis rose to rival Detroit as the soul music capitol of the world, and for his unlikely survival from one of the worst tragedies in the history of the rock & roll era.

By Chris Rizik

Thanks to Gary Van den Bussche of DSG for letting us know about this.

 
Video of the Month - Kea Michaels - "Not My Friend"
Choice Cut - Chris Jasper - "Have I Told You Lately"
Song of the Month - Tracy Cruz - "Your Love's Everything"

Leave a comment!