She was sampled by Wu Tang Clan on their groundbreaking 1993 album, Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers). She’s been covered by Alicia Keys. But, to most of the world, Wendy Rene is best known as the girl who decided not to get on an airplane.
The plane in question took off on December 10, 1967, carrying soul music legend Otis Redding and a group of musicians to a gig in Wisconsin. Rene, Redding’s protégé, was supposed to perform her farewell show that night, but she changed her mind and they left without her. A couple of hours later, the plane went down, killing all but one on board.
Lost in the tragedy is the unusual fact that a budding star and gifted songwriter was to play her farewell show, by choice, at the age of 20. As if taking a cue from the hit tune “Walk Away Renee” by Left Banke – released that same year – Wendy Rene up and quit the music biz, voluntarily relegating herself to obscurity while the small catalog of recordings she made for Stax Records gathered dust in a vault (other than the odd track on a collection, bootlegs, or old vinyl singles owned by record collectors).