About: Wilson Pickett

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Wilson Pickett (March 18, 1941 – January 19, 2006) was an American R&B and soul singer.

Pickett was born in Prattville, Alabama, and grew up singing in Baptist church choirs.

He was the youngest of 11 children and called his mother “the baddest woman in my book,” telling historian Gerri Hirshey “I get scared of her now. She used to hit me with anything, skillets, stove wood–(one time I ran away and) cried for a week. Stayed in the woods, me and my little dog.” Pickett eventually left to live with his father in Detroit.

Pickett began his musical career with The Falcons in the early 1959. In 1964, he signed as a solo artist with Atlantic Records and recorded “In the Midnight Hour” (1965), perhaps his best-remembered hit.

The genesis of “In the Midnight Hour” was a recording session on May 12, 1965 in which producer Jerry Wexler approached studio musicians Steve Cropper and Al Jackson (from Stax Records house band Booker T. and the M.G.’s) and said, “Why don’t you pick up on this thing here?” He performed a dance step. Cropper later explained in an interview that Wexler told them that “this was the way the kids were dancing; they were putting the accent on two. Basically, we’d been one-beat-accenters with an afterbeat; it was like ‘boom dah,’ but here this was a thing that went ‘um-chaw,’ just the reverse as far as the accent goes.” The song that resulted from this encounter established Pickett as a star and also gave Stax Records, for which Pickett recorded, a bona fide hit.

“Mustang Sally” and “Funky Broadway” followed, though Pickett’s biggest pop hit was “Land of 1000 Dances”. By the early 1970s, Pickett had released several more hits, including a cover of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and a cover of “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies. His last hit song was “Fire and Water” in 1972.

Pickett was also a popular songwriter, with songs he wrote recorded by such artists as Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, the Grateful Dead, Booker T. and the MGs, Genesis, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Hootie & the Blowfish, Echo & The Bunnymen, Roxy Music, Bruce Springsteen, Los Lobos, The Jam, Ani DiFranco, and more. …. continued …..

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