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Jackie Wilson

Jackie Wilson was one of the most important agents of black pop's transition from R&B into soul. In terms of vocal power (especially in the upper register), few could outdo him; he was also an electrifying on-stage showman. He was a consistent hitmaker from the mid-'50s through the early '70s, although never a crossover superstar. His reputation isn't quite on par with Ray Charles, James Brown, or Sam Cooke, however, because his records did not always reflect his artistic genius. Indeed, there is a consensus of sorts among critics that Wilson was something of an underachiever in the studio, due to the sometimes inappropriately pop-based material and arrangements that he used.

Wilson was well-known on the R&B scene before he went solo in the late '50s. In 1953 he replaced Clyde McPhatter in Billy Ward & the Dominoes, one of the top R&B vocal groups of the '50s. Although McPhatter was himself a big star, Wilson was as good as or better than the man whose shoes he filled. Commercially, however, things took a downturn for the Dominoes in the Wilson years, although they did manage a Top 20 hit with "St. Therese of the Roses" in 1956. Elvis Presley was one of those who was mightily impressed by Wilson in the mid-'50s; he can be heard praising Jackie's on-stage cover of "Don't Be Cruel" in between-song banter during the Million Dollar Quartet session in late 1956.

Wilson would score his first big R&B (and small pop) hit in late 1956 with the brassy, stuttering "Reet Petite," which was co-written by an emerging Detroit songwriter named Berry Gordy Jr. Gordy would also help write a few other hits for Jackie in the late '50s, "To Be Loved," "Lonely Teardrops," "That's Why (I Love You So)," and "I'll Be Satisfied"; they also crossed over to the pop charts, "Lonely Teardrops" making the Top Ten. Most of these were upbeat, creatively arranged marriages of pop and R&B that, in retrospect, helped set the stage both for '60s soul and for Gordy's own huge pop success at Motown. The early Gordy-Wilson association has led some historians to speculate how much differently (and better) Jackie's career might have turned out had he been on Motown's roster instead of the Brunswick label.

In the early '60s, Wilson maintained his pop stardom with regular hit singles that often used horn arrangements and female choruses that have dated somewhat badly, especially in comparison with the more creative work by peers such as Charles and Brown from this era. Wilson also sometimes went into out-and-out operatic pop, as on "Danny Boy" and one of his biggest hits, "Night" (1960). At the same time, he remained capable of unleashing a sweaty, up-tempo, gospel-soaked number: "Baby Workout," which fit that description to a T, was a number five hit for him in 1963. It's true that you have to be pretty selective in targeting the worthwhile Wilson records from this era; 1962's At the Copa, for instance, has Jackie trying to combine soul and all-around entertainment, and not wholly succeeding with either strategy. Yet some of his early Brunswick material is also fine uptown soul; not quite as earthy as some of his fans would have liked him to sound, no doubt, but worth hearing.

Wilson was shot and seriously wounded by a female fan in 1961, though he made a recovery. His career was more seriously endangered by his inability to keep up with changing soul and rock trends. Not everything he did in the mid-'60s is totally dismissible; "No Pity (In the Naked City)," for instance, is something like West Side Story done uptown soul style. In 1966, his career was briefly revived when he teamed up with Chicago soul producer Carl Davis, who had been instrumental in the success of Windy City performers like Gene Chandler, Major Lance, and Jerry Butler. Davis successfully updated Wilson's sound with horn-heavy arrangements, getting near the Top Ten with "Whispers," and then making number six in 1967 with "Higher and Higher." And that was really the close of Wilson's career as either a significant artist or commercial force, although he had some minor chart entries through the early '70s.

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 in early 1984. ~ Richie Unterberger
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Ultimate Jackie Wilson

Disc 1

1. Lonely Teardrops

2. That's Why (I Love You So)

3. Reet Petite

4. (You Were Made For) All My Love

5. I'll Be Satisfied

6. To Be Loved

7. Am I The Man

8. Doggin' Around

9. Talk That Talk

10. A Woman A Lover A Friend

11. Alone At Last

12. You Better Know It

13. Night

14. I'm Comin' On Back To You

15. My Empty Arms

16. Baby Workout

17. Think Twice [with Lavern Baker]

18. You Don't Know Me

19. No Pity (In The Naked City)

20. Danny Boy

21. Over The Rainbow

22. Georgia On My Mind

Disc 2

1. (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher

2. The Fairest Of Them All

3. Whispers (Getting Louder)

4. Who Am I

5. My Heart Is Calling

6. Since You Showed Me How To Be Happy

7. For Once In My Life

8. For Your Precious Love

9. I Get The Sweetest Feeling

10. (My Love Is ) Growing Tall

11. The Who Who Song (Nothing But My Sweet Baby)

12. You Brought About A Change In Me

13. Light My Fire

14. Eleanor Rigby

15. (I Can Feel The Vibrations ) This Love Is Real

16. What A Lovely Way

17. You Got Me Walking

18. My Way

19. Try It Again

20. Because Of You

21. Don't Burn No Bridges (With The Chi-Lites)

22. Nobody But You

x

Track List: The Greatest Hits Of Jackie Wilson

1. Reet Petite

2. To Be Loved

3. Lonely Teardrops

5. I'll Be Satisfied

6. Talk That Talk

7. Night

8. Doggin' Around

9. A Woman, A Lover, A Friend

10. Am I The Man

11. Baby Workout

12. Danny Boy

15. I Get The Sweetest Feeling

16. You Got Me Walking

x

Track List: The Very Best Of Jackie Wilson

2. Lonely Teardrops

3. To Be Loved

4. That's Why (I Love You So)

5. I'll Be Satisfied

6. Doggin' Around

8. Night

9. You Better Know It

10. Talk That Talk

11. Am I The Man

12. I'm Comin' On Back To You

13. A Woman, A Lover, A Friend

14. Baby Workout

15. Squeeze Her, Tease Her (But Love Her)

16. No Pity (In The Naked City)

18. I Get The Sweetest Feeling

19. Since You Showed Me How To Be Happy

20. Love Is Funny That Way

21. Just Be Sincere

22. Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher And Higher

23. You Got Me Walking

Comments

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Why mention Elvis? Was he trying to steal Jackie's music too?
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I had all this and more God bless her soul Amen...
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These are the songs that had a meaningful words then and now.
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your love lifting. Me higher then that
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Super talent.
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dragonlady60 8 8
SING IT JACKE
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your love means a lot to me can hardly wait till we can sing to each other
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Hey hey
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Amazing song��
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Absolutely!! !
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Did you grow up listening to this great music. Give a shout out! Please.
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Dance!!!!!!! ! ! !
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God bless his music!!!
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perkins4902
Don:'t read this. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of you life. Don't stop this is freaky! But if you read this and ignore it you will get bad luck. Put this on 15 songs in 143 minutes. When your done press the space bar sans your crushes name will appear in big letters. This is so creepy because it actually works
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I read somewhere somebody says Jackie Wilson was the black Elvis. Oh please, Elvis you go down and watch Jackie perform. Jackie was doing those moves before Elvis

More correctly, Elvis was the white Jackie Wilson. Why do you think white parents freaked out once Elvis started swiveling his hips?☺
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Gary ROOK. HE WAS SHORT MARRIED AND SHY VERY SHY OFF THE STAGE BUT WE DID TALK AND DANCED HELD EACH OTHER. AND THE BACK STAGE TALKS. AND HELLOS WITH MR PERCY SLEDGE ERNIE K DOE OLIVER MORGAN THE DIXIE CUPS AND THE PLATTERS AND THE MID NIGHT PHONE CALLS.
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The great jackie wilson
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carolekingg
Jackie Wilson is the BEST! Thank you for the great bio.
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kristyfrank1
Jackie Wilson was too awesome and he has been so over looked!!! With his fine self
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huetejw
Such a great song to take the statue of liberty out for a stroll
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jimmy.lucket t
Great bio
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This guy can and rock with the best, he WAS the black Elvis in my eyes.....how can you not want to get up and move when Jackie Wilson brings it!! Great talent!
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Jackie was the best, awesum
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Could have been one of the greatest what a waste!
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Great song! Timeless.
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kristyfrank1
RED HIS BIO, MY MOM GOT ME HOOKED AT 9
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kristyfrank1
UNDER APPRECIATED THIS MAN COULD SANG AND DANCE HE WAS THE BIZNESS
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One of the best of all time.
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Jackie Wilson was one fantastic talent on every level .. with few equals.
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My mom (now 75 years old) says this is the only concert she ever fainted at, lol when she saw Jackie Wilson live upfront and close back in the day.
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I agree with u
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I love Jackie Wilson and I will miss him, he left us way too soon, what so much energy he had dancing, i miss you very much Jackie Wilson, god bless you very much.
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I totally agree he was one of the best!
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Unsung in 2016 of Jackie Wilson...
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its sad he suffered so ong higher with no help he had an amazing voice.
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adoreinvegas
My Aunt Betty used to say he was the Black Jesus. hahah
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I can thank Jackie Wilson for being one of my favorite soul singers and keeping me in love with this kind of music :)
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Jackie is the BOMB.....You r love keeps lifting me higher is of his best........ T h a n k you Mr Wilson.
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My mother loved her some Jackie wilson
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JACKIE WILSON, NO DOUBT; AN ALL TIME GREAT !
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One of my favorite vocalists
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My moms' favorite soul singer Jackie Wilson, as she fainted at one of his concerts.... y e s , she was upfront and just in awe, lol!!
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rips jackie
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super hits!!
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A. True. Legend ! For. Elvis. To. Copy. Him. Wow. !
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Lonely Teardrops are the worst....... . . . . . . . .
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Great dance music.......
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Great song
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Great solo music!!
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Awesome song!!
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