WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF "DIG THIS" ON "STRANGER IN TOWN" - Jackie Wilson- Mr. Excitement - Live On ABC In 1973 - Click On This Link For Jackie's Story

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Jackie Wilson became one of the first R&B vocalists to enjoy success in the early rock and roll era and became to be regarded as one of the first great soul singers. Jackie “Sonny” Wilson was born June 9,1934 in Detroit, Michigan and grew up in Highland Park, Michigan. The only child of Jack and Eliza Mae (nee Ranson) Wilson from Columbus, Mississippi, Wilson’s father was an alcoholic and generally unemployed. Eliza Mae who had lost two earlier children doted on Wilson and was a powerful influence on his life. After dropping out of high school in the ninth grade, Wilson began performing at local clubs. He was discovered at a talent show by Johnny Otis in 1951. Wilson sang with the Thrillers before they changed their name to the Royals, an R&B quartet. Before Wilson could become a full fledged member of the group they signed with King Records and left him behind. He the briefly recorded with Dizzy Gillespie’s Dee Gee label (“Danny Boy” 1952) before he successfully audition for Billy Ward’s Dominoes in 1953.

Signing with Brunswick Records, Wilson soon had a minor hit with “Reet Petite,” co-written with Berry Gordy, Jr and Roquel “Billy” Davis. Gordy/Davis also co-wrote Wilson’s major pop and R&B smash hits “To Be Loved,” “That’s Why,” and “I’ll Be Satisfied,” and his top R&B and pop hit classic “Lonely Teardrops.” Wilson appeared in the film Go, Johnny, Go singing “You Better Know It.” Performing engagements at major Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and New York nightclubs and recording a variety of material, including bland pop material and classical adaptations such as “Night,” “Alone at Last,” and “My Empty Arms,” Wilson suffered through intrusive arrangements and critical neglect in the early ‘60s. Nonetheless, he scored four two sided crossover hits in 1960-1961 with “Night”/”Doggin’ Around,” “All My Love”/”A Woman, a Lover, a Friend,” “Alone at Last”/ “Am I the Man,” and “My Empty Arms”/”The Tear of the Year.” “Night” was a pop smash, while “Alone at Last” and “My Empty Arms,” were near pop smashes. “Doggin’ Around” and “A Woman, a Lover, a Friend” were top R&B hits. Later in 1961 Wilson had major pop and R&B hits with “Please Tell Me Why” and “I’m Comin’ Back to You,” followed by moderate pop hit with “Years from Now” and “The Greatest Hurt.” He subsequently formed a songwriting partnership with Alonzo Tucker that yielded a top R&B and smash pop hit with “Baby Workout” in 1961. Later R&B and pop hits included “Shake a Hand” and “Shake! Shake! Shake!” February 15, 1961, Jones shot Wilson twice as he returned with Harris to his Manhattan apartment. Despite his wounds, Wilson made it downstairs where he was taken to the Roosevelt Hospital. Life saving surgery was performed followed by weeks of medical care. Wilson lost a kidney and would carry the bullet that was to close to his spine to be removed, around for the rest of his life.

Although he continued to have hits over the next three years, Wilson didn’t have another major pop and smash R&B hit until he began recording in Chicago with producer Carl Davis. Under Davis, Wilson staged a dramatic comeback with “Whispers (Getting Louder),” and the classic “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” a top R&B and smash pop hit, and “I Get the Sweetest Feeling.” Wilson recorded with Count Basie in 1968 and managed his last near smash R&B and moderate pop hit with “This Love is Real” in the late ‘70s. He was subsequently relegated to the oldies revival circuit, despite having continued R&B hits.

September 1970 Wilson’s oldest son, 16-year-old Jackie Jr., was shot and killed during a confrontation on the porch of a Detroit neighbors’ home.

On the night of September 29, 1975 while performing at the Latin Casino near Cherry Hill, New Jersey Wilson was stricken with a massive heart attack.

By Rich Buckland 06/14/2020 06:34 PM

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