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Sat, 06.09.1934

Jackie Wilson was Mr. Excitement

Jackie Wilson

*On this date in 1934, Jackie Wilson was born. He was an African American soul singer.

Born Jack Leroy Wilson in Detroit, Michigan, he was well known in the R&B arena in his early years. In 1953 he replaced Clyde McPhatter in the group Billy Ward & the Dominoes, one of the top R&B vocal groups of the '50s. Wilson had his first big R&B hit in late 1956 with 'Reet Petite', which was co-written by Detroit songwriter Berry Gordy, Jr. Gordy would also help write a few other hits for Wilson in the late '50s, To Be Loved, Lonely Teardrops, That's Why (I Love You So), and I'll Be Satisfied.

In the early '60s, Wilson maintained his pop stardom with regular hit singles that often used horn arrangements and female choruses. He also went into out-and-out operatic pop, on song such as Danny Boy and one of his biggest hits, Night (1960). Also during this time, he released Baby Workout, which was a #5 hit for him in 1963. Wilson was shot and seriously wounded by a female fan in 1961, though he made a recovery. His resume in the mid-'60s also included No Pity (In the Naked City).

In 1966, his career moved forward when he teamed up with producer Carl Davis, who successfully updated his sound with horn-heavy arrangements, getting near the Top Ten with Whispers, and then making #6 in 1967 with Higher and Higher. While playing a Dick Clark oldies show at the Latin Casino in New Jersey in September 1975, Wilson suffered an on stage heart attack while singing Lonely Teardrops. He lapsed into a coma, suffering major brain damage, and was hospitalized until his death on Jan 21, 1984 in Mount Holly, New Jersey.

Jackie Wilson was one of the most important performers of the transition from rhythm & blues into soul.

Reference:
Heart & Soul
A Celebration of Black Music Style in America 1930-1975
by Merlis Davin Seay, Forward by Etta james
Copyright 2002, Billboard Books
ISBN 0-8230-8314-4

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