Ben Cauley, born on October 3, 1947 and died September 21, 2015, he was an American trumpet player, vocalist, and founding member of the Stax recording group, The Bar-Kays.
He was the sole survivor of the 1967 plane crash that claimed the lives of soul singer Otis Redding and four members of the Bar-Kays.
Cauley got his musical start singing in church with his mother and picked up the trumpet in seventh grade.
He formed the Bar-Kays at Booker T. Washington High School with friends: James Alexander, Ronnie Caldwell, Carl Cunningham, Jimmy King, and Phalon Jones. The teen group was in high demand at clubs, like the Hippodrome.
As Cauley recalls, Otis Redding followed the band there to offer them a gig, “We played at the Coliseum,” said Cauley.
“Otis went wild. After the show was over, we went down to the Hippodrome.
He came back to where we was and said, ‘Man! Y’all bad.’ He asked what we were doing? We said we was in school.”
By the spring of 1967, the group was Redding’s backing band and recording at Stax Records.
The Bar-Kays’ first release was supposed to be “You Can’t Sit Down”, but when Stax founder Jim Stewart stepped out of the room during the recording session, the band had an impromptu jam. They created their signature song, “Soul Finger.”
Ben Cauley died at Methodist South Hospital, where he’d been taken because of ongoing health issues.
His passing was confirmed by his daughter, Shuronda Cauley-Oliver. Mr. Cauley was 67.