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March 18th is the birth anniversary of the “Wicked” Wilson Pickett. Born in 1941 in Prattville, Alabama, Wilson became a major figure in American soul music. He began in his teens as a gospel singer, and made the switch to secular music in 1959, joining The Falcons. His biggest hit with that group was “I Found A Love”, on which Wilson was lead vocalist. He soon thereafter left for a solo career. Wilson co-wrote “If You Need Me”, and sent a demo of it to Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records.

Wexler gave the song to Solomon Burke, and it became one of Burke’s biggest hits. Pickett had a Top 10 R&B hit with his own song “It’s Too Late” in the summer of 1963. But it was “In The Midnight Hour” in 1965 that really launched Wilson as a major star, going to #1 R&B and to #21 on the Pop chart, selling over a million copies. He lived in Englewood, NJ later in life, and his struggles with alcoholism and cocaine led to some run ins with the law. Wilson died at the age of 64 in 2006.

Wayback Wednesday this week features another of his early hits…”634-5789”…which was written by Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper. Enjoy!

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