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Wilson Pickett Biography


Home > Music > P > Pickett, Wilson > Biography


Born: 1941/03/18
Birth Place: Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Years Active: 1959 – 2006
Genres: R&B, Rock And Roll, Soul, Southern Soul


Wilson Pickett was born March 18, 1941 in Prattville, Alabama and was an R&B, soul and rock and roll singer and songwriter. Throughout the course of his career, Pickett became an influential figure in soul music, and somewhat of a permanent fixture on the Billboard R&B Charts. Pickett was raised singing in Baptist church choirs and developed his love from music there. Moving to Detroit in 1955 to live with his father, Pickett's style of music fused his church singing with the sounds he heard from the streets of Detroit. As artists like Little Richard dominated the music world at the time, Pickett was inspired to join a band and pursue music full time.

Pickett became a member of the gospel music group, The Violinaires, and played local church tours with other artists, such as The Soul Stirrers, The Swan Silvertones and The Davis Sisters. By 1959, Pickett had joined The Falcons, who helped gospel music crossover to mainstream markets and pave the way for soul music.

Pickett rose to fame with The Falcons on the track he co-wrote and sang, “I Found a Love.” As Pickett gained more exposure to wider audiences he decided to branch out on his own and began to record his 1963 solo debut, “It's Too Late,” which spurred the hit of the same name, peaking at #7 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart and at #49 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart. The success of the single garnered Pickett a record deal from Atlantic Records in 1964. Pickett's debut for the major label, “I'm Gonna Cry,” was followed by a duet with Tami Lynn, “Come Home Baby.” However, this single failed to chart.

It would be Pickett's third single for Atlantic that would bring him success, 1965’s “In the Midnight Hour.” The song was an international success and peaked at #1 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart, at #21 on Billboard's Pop Singles chart and #12 on the U.K. Singles chart. The song sold over one million copies, was awarded a gold disc, and established Pickett as an artist in his own right.

Pickett followed with the moderate hits, “Don’t Fight It,” peaking at #4 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart and at #53 on Billboard's Pop Singles chart and “Ninety-Nine and A Half (Won't Do),” peaking at #13 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart and at #53 on Billboard's Pop Singles chart. 1966 saw Pickett land his third #1 hit on Billboard's R&B Singles Chart with, “Land of 1,000 Dances.” Pickett's cover of Mack Rice's, “Mustang Sally,” became a #6 R&B hit and brought him worldwide recognition.

As the 1960s were coming to a close, Pickett began working with Bobby Womack. Their collaboration produced the songs, “I'm In Love,” “Jealous Love,” “I've Come A Long Way,” “I'm A Midnight Mover” and “I Found A True Love.” Pickett's 1968 and 1969 Fame Studios sessions produced the #16 Pop hit, “Hey Jude,” a cover of The Beatles song. 1970 saw Pickett's 10th studio album, “Right One,” and the hits, “Engine No.9” and “Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You.” Pickett's fifth and last #1 R&B hit single, “Don't Knock My Love, Pt. 1” arrived in 1971.

A year later Picket parted ways with Atlantic Records and signed with RCA Records. Pickett's debut for the label, “Mr. Magic Man” emerged in 1973 and was followed by five more studio albums over the next two years. By 1979, Pickett had signed with EMI Records.

As the 80s and the 90s emerged, Pickett continued to tour and record sporadically, releasing the odd album here and there with his last album, “It's Harder Now” appearing in 1999. 1991 saw Pickett's work honored by his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 1998 saw Pickett appear in the film, “The Blues Brothers 2000,” performing the song, “634–5789” alongside Eddie Floyd and Jonny Lang. In 2004 Pickett's touring schedule slowed down when he became ill. Pickett died from a heart attack in 2006, he was 64 years old. In 2010, Rhino Records released a comprehensive Pickett compilation called “Funky Midnight Mover – The Studio Recordings (1962–1978).” The compilation included original recordings from Pickett's Atlantic years along with previously unreleased recordings.