Wilson Pickett

  • Born in 1941 in Pratville Alabama. Died in 2006 of a heart attack.
  • Pickett moved to Detroit when he was 14, and he joined a gospel group, The Violinaires. He sang with them for 4 years, and then joined The Falcons, hoping to take his gospel music background into a more popular area.
  • IN 1963, he cut a demo tape of a song he wrote, If You Need Me. He sent the demo to a producer at Atlantic Records, who gave it to Solomon Burke. Burke recorded it, and it became one of Burke’s biggest hits. Pickett was not happy that his song was taken – he said it was the first time he’d ever cried in his life.
  • Later that year, he released his first successful single, It’s Too Late. It peaked at #7 on the R&B chart. His debut album was also titled It’s Too Late. It had a raw soul sound that was typical of Pickett’s later years.
  • Pickett’s breakthrough hit was in 1965, when he released In The Midnight Hour, also the name of his second album. It hit #1 on the R&B chart and #21 on the pop chart.
  • Over the next 3 years, he produced several big hits, including Don’t Fight It, 634-5789, Land of 1,000 Dances, Mustang Sally, and Funky Broadway. All of these songs hit the top 10 on the R&B chart.
  • He continued to release records into the 70s and 80s, though by 1974 his songs were no longer charting on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He still was touching the R&B chart as late as 1987. His last big R&B hits were in 1971 – Don’t Knock My Love, Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You, and Fire and Water all hit #1 or #2 that year.
  • Pickett appeared in the 1998 film Blues Brothers 2000, performing 634-5789. 
  • He released 59 singles, including soul versions of popular songs like Hey Jude (The Beatles), Born to Be Wild (Steppenwolf), and Sugar Sugar (The Archies). He released 25 studio albums in his career.
  • He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. He was nominated for 5 Grammy awards, though did not receive any.
  • Here’s a cool concert clip of Pickett and Bruce Springsteen playing In the Midnight Hour.

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