Jackie Wilson

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About Jackie Wilson

Nicknamed “Mr. Excitement” for his cool style, dynamic voice, and electric dance moves, legendary singer Jackie Wilson touched on a variety of R&B, soul, pop, and rock styles from the late ’50s through the early ’70s. • A former boxer, Wilson sang in nightclubs around his native Detroit before joining the R&B vocal group Billy Ward & the Dominoes in 1953. He replaced Clyde McPhatter, who went on to form The Drifters. • Wilson scored a minor solo hit with 1956’s “Reet Petite,” cowritten by future Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. He fared better with 1958’s Gordy-penned “Lonely Teardrops,” the first of Wilson’s six No. 1 hits on the R&B chart. It also went Top 10 on the pop charts. • Throughout the early ‘60s, Wilson released a string of upbeat singles like “Baby Workout” and “Shake! Shake! Shake!” During this time, he tried out numerous styles across the emerging spectrum of rock and pop—with mixed results. • In 1966, after a couple years of limited chart success, Wilson fortuitously linked up with Chicago producer Carl Davis. That partnership yielded 1966’s “Whispers” and the following year’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” an R&B chart-topper and Top 10 pop hit that became one of Jackson’s signature songs. • Wilson suffered a heart attack on stage in New Jersey in 1975 and went into a coma. The singer remained hospitalized until his death in 1984. • He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Detroit, MI, United States
June 9, 1934

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