Wilson Pickett was an R&B star who played a pivotal role in the development of this genre in the US. Over the course of his career, he recorded more than 50 hits, including Mustang Sally, Land of a Thousand Dances, and In the Midnight Hour. Anyone with an interest in soul music, like Tunde Folawiyo, will be familiar with these classic soul songs.
Born in 1941, Pickett spent his childhood in Alabama, before moving to Michigan in his teens. His love of music led to him joining a group called The Violinaires, as their lead singer; he toured and performed with this band for four years, before deciding to move from gospel to secular music. He became a member of The Falcons in 1959, and spent most of the early 1960s performing with them. As his confidence grew, he began to take more of an interest in developing a career as a solo artist, and by 1965 he had been offered a recording contract at the famous Stax Records in Memphis.
This was the beginning of the most successful period of Pickett’s career. He collaborated with a number of famous musicians, released several popular cover versions, and worked with some of the top producers in the US at that time, most notably Leon Huff and Kenny Gamble. Some of his best known hits during the late 1960s and early 1970s include Midnight Mover, which he recorded in 1968 with Bobby Womack, and Sugar, Sugar.
The album which Pickett made with the aforementioned Gamble and Huff in 1970 (called Wilson Pickett in Philadelphia) proved to be hugely popular with music fans, and several of the singles released from this record, including Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You, and Get Me Back On Time, Engine Number 9 were huge hits, with the former selling over a million copies.
Shortly after these songs were released, he decided to return to Alabama to record at the famous Muscle Shoals studio. With the help of Tippy Armstrong, Hawkins and Hood, he created Don’t Knock My Love, which, like previous singles, sold more than a million copies.
As a music lover, Tunde Folawiyo may know that in 1971, Pickett released two more songs, Fire And Water and Call My Name, I’ll Be There, both of which were top ten hits in the R&B charts. Although he continued to tour throughout the next three decades, he chose to perform his old hits, rather than any new material. He retired from the music scene in 2004, and passed away two years later, after suffering from a heart attack.