Jackie Leroy Wilson, Jr., was an American soul singer-songwriter and performer. He was known as “Mr. Excitement” and had a big impact on the transition of rhythm and blues into soul.
Wilson was born on June 9, 1934, in Detroit, Michigan. As a teenager, he was also a successful Golden Gloves boxer. However, as his mother wanted him to stop boxing, he changed his career path.
Wilson gained fame in his early years of his career as a member of the R&B vocal group, Billy Ward and His Dominoes. He went solo in 1957 and recorded over 50 hit singles that spanned R&B, pop, soul, doo-wop, and easy listening. His first major hit, “Lonely Teardrops,” was released in 1958; more successful songs soon followed, including “Night” in 1960, and “Baby Workout” in 1963.
Unfortunately, Wilson’s amazing singing and performing career came to an end in 1975. While headlining a Dick Clark Oldies Concert, he collapsed on stage from what was later determined to be a massive heart attack, and subsequently slipped into a coma, slowly awakening over a period of eight months. He remained semi-comatose for the nine years until his death in 1984, at the age of 49; he was deemed conscious but incapacitated in early June 1976.
Wilson’s music and style inspired many big name entertainment artists, such as James Brown, Bruce Springsteen, and Michael Jackson. Wilson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.