BY WALTER OPINDE
On this day June 9, 1934, a powerful and dynamic African-American soul performer, during the 1950s and the 1960s, Jack Leroy (Jackie) Wilson Jr., was born, in Detroit, Michigan. Jackie successfully crossed over from rhythm and blues to pop music.
Jackie Wilson was an African-American soul singer, songwriter, and performer. A tenor with a four-octave vocal range, made him be nicknamed Mr. Excitement and was important in the transition of rhythm and blues into soul. He was considered a master showman, and one of the most dynamic and influential singers and performers in the history of R&B and rock ‘n’ roll.
Wilson started out as a gospel singer. As a teenager, he was also a successful Golden Gloves boxer. His mother reportedly asked him to stop boxing, so he picked a different direction for himself. In 1953, Wilson made music his career, joining Billy Ward and his Dominoes (also known as Billy Ward and the Dominoes) as the group’s lead singer. He was brought in to replace Clyde McPhatter. Gaining fame during his early age when he was a member of the R&B vocal group Billy Ward and His Dominoes, he went solo in 1957 and recorded more than 50 hit singles, which ranged from pop, R&B, doo-wop, soul, to easy listening. This included 16 R&B Top 10 hits.
In 1957, Jackie Wilson released his first solo single, “Reet Petite (The Finest Girl You Want to Meet).” He made it onto the pop charts the following year with “To Be Loved.” By December 1958, Wilson scored his first No. 1 R&B hit with “Lonely Teardrops.” This upbeat song of heartbreak was also a Top 10 hit on the pop charts.
Continuing to ride a wave of success, Wilson went on to make the charts over and over again with a variety of songs. He showed his passion for opera with 1960’s “Night,” a song based on an aria from Samson and Delilah by Camille Saint-Saens. That same year, Wilson landed at the top of the R&B charts with the ballad “Doggin’ Around.” Jackie’s 1963 song, “Baby Workout,” drove listeners to the dance floor and became another R&B chart-topper for Wilson. He scored his last major hit in 1967 with “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.”
On the Billboard Hot 100, he scored 14 Top 20 Pop hits, six of which made it into the Pop’s “Top 10.” On 29th September, 1975, while headlining a Dick Clark Oldies Concert, Jackie collapsed while 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 8 months. He remained semi-comatose for the nine years until his death in 1984, at the age of 49.
Wilson was an inspiration to James Brown, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Bruce Springsteen among others. He was one of the most influential artists of his generation. He paved the way for the African-American musical generations. In 2004, the Rolling Stone magazine ranked Jackie Wilson at position 69 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Read more of Jackie Wilson’s story via: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/jackie-wilson-mn0000108826/biography