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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, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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Great song
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Great solo music!!
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Awesome song!!
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anita604193
Loving...
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Jackie,Jacki e , J a c k i e very, very underated. I'm just glad I was around when he was performing live. Recentlly saw his son on a cruise ship. He had the genes but not the genius.
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NONE OF these stupid wannabes male R&B artist can or NEVER be on Jackie Wilson"s level.
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Your Love, is lifting me higher!!!!!! Nice
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I love this song so much that I love Jackie Wilson too much now it came from the movie ghost busters 2
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I wanna see these new R&B male artists get on Mr Excitement"s level.
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dragonlady60 8 8
lonely. teardrops
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Such a fun song! I love it!
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Jackie Wilson had one of the most dynamic vocal ranges of all time, Besides that, he was a true showman. He was often dubbed, Mr. Excitement.
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Happy birth day (Jackie) Rip
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Happy birth day (Jackie ) rip.
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Jackie !!!!!!! WhAt. Is. It. To. Say????
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Jackie music will never grow old. The words in this song holds true even today: Endless! RQ/rlh
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beautyofnatu r e . l g
Yep, that's exactly it. Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher. Love should lift us up, not bring us down. Find supporters and kind people, and give that out too, to create heaven...
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Keeeeeep on!!!
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This Dude Can Sing He's Got The Stuff
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Thank you Pandora for let people listen to old and new song past on future
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i said your love lifting me higher and higher. great to wake up to.
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Thank you pandora for letting a whole new generation hear Jackie Wilson & others in their prime !��
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He could make a drunken man get up and dance....yes he could....!!
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Mr. Excitement and don't forget his version of " Danny Boy "
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donnamichell e 0 8
Love Jackie Wilson so much best singer ever!❤️
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cheresevicks
So they're not going to mention Elvis Presley stealing his songs and moves?
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You nisp
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monid22
Love u Jakie!! :v
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dragonlady60 8 8
Jackie...my fave...xoxox o
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marvins39
jackie is underappreci a t e d for his talent. no need to disparage clyde. he was a giant
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Love this
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surayeawesom e
OMG I LUV THIS SONG SO MUCH
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Higher and Higher is one of those songs that can only be sung by who sang it.
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Good music
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mymexicanroo t s
Nice music (:
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Didn't realize he had such a falsetto voice but sure is on this one.
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Play something live by Jackie wilson
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Love u Jackie, in SanAntonio, Tx *,*
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dragonlady60 8 8
jackie...one of my faved...xoxo xoxo
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Love ypu jackie
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Jackie was overdosed I know this for a fact he is my aunt sisters husband look up in his biography there is the words Linda cannon which is lynn Jackie's wife sister
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Nice
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I love you jackie
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Jackie, Jackie, Jackie the best of the bests!!!U do lift us higher n ur sorely miss in the music industry, the Golden vocal of ur time!!!
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Great singer who could sing and had outstanding stage presence, he was one hell of a showman, who could've gave James Brown a run for the money, he had some cold dance moves
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msvglove1
This is my song I will go to a oldies but goodies party this is my number one request I do a mean slop off this or just workout
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Jackie Wilson you are Mr. Entertainmen t , you can't sing a bad song. Loved that voice since the 50's.
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jrsjrsjrs57
Powerful and uplifting. It all comes together. I love it
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I love your music
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There will never be another Jackie Wilson.Went to see to see him on stage here in Detroit whenever he had a show.R.I.P Jackie
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