Wilson Pickett: A legendary Blues and Soul singer
Wilson Pickett is one of the most important singers and songwriters in the history of soul music. He was born in Alabama in 1941 and has had over 50 hit singles in his lifetime. Pickett later grew up in Detroit where he developed his style of singing by learning from idols such as Little Richard.
Which are the best records Wilson Pickett released?
Wilson Pickett’s most notable recordings include his version of “Land of 1000 Dances”, “In the Midnight Hour” and “Funky Broadway”. Pickett’s first hit was a song he wrote and sung with his group the Falcons, and later by himself, called “I found a Love”. “In the Midnight Hour” was Pickett’s first big hit however, which was recorded when he was at the Stax studios in Memphis in 1965. The record rose to #1 in the R&B charts and #21 in the Pop charts in the USA, and to #12 in the UK singles charts. Key to the sound of the record were Al Jackson and Steve Cropper of the Stax house band and Booker T. and The MGs, who worked with Pickett to create the song’s groove and produce the record. The beat of “In the Midnight Hour” was a transition from the traditional soul sound to that of funk, which put the emphasis on the second beat as opposed to the first.
Pickett recorded for three more sessions at Stax in 1965, and later at Fame Studios in Alabama producing numerous hits, including “Mustang Sally” and a cover of “Funky Broadway” by Dyke and the Blazers. These records sold over a million copies each. Wilson Pickett also recorded “Land of 1000 Dances” around this time, which became his biggest pop hit, reaching #6 on the charts.
In the years following, Pickett began to record material written and performed by other artists while still at Atlantic. These included Bobby Womack, Rodger Collins, Jimi Hendrix, The Supremes, Steppenwolf, The Archies, Free, and Gamble and Huff, amongst others. Meanwhile, he continued to find commercial success around the globe. In 1972 Wilson Pickett joined RCA records and had some minor hits, but failed to reach the level of success that he had found in the 1960s. His level of musical output fell during the 1970s and he was eventually dropped by RCA, recording for various labels in the years after.
In the later years of his life, despite many personal problems, Pickett was continually recognized and awarded as one of the key musical stars of the 20th Century. He appeared in the film Blues Brothers 2000 in 1998, and his music was featured prominently in the musical The Commitments.
In 2006, Wilson Pickett passed away from a heart attack in Reston Virginia. He was 64 years old.
After his death, tributes were given by many prominent names in music, including Ben E. King, and Little Richard, who spoke about him and preached at his funeral service.
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