Wilson Pickett was a one of a kind when it came to soul and rock and roll music. Not only did Pickett sing, but he was an extraordinary composer and created various pieces for himself and others. He is best-known for his hits “In the Midnight Hour, “Land of 1,000 Dances,” Mustang Sally,” and “Funky Broadway.”
Pickett was born in 1941 in Prattville, Alabama, and grew up singing in Baptist church choirs. He was one of eleven children. In 1955, he moved to Detroit to live with his father. His passion for singing grew on the streets and in the churches of Detroit, and he was influenced greatly by the singing style of Little Richard.
In 1955, Pickett joined the Violinaires, a gospel group. The group accompanied the Soul Stirrers, the Swan Silvertones, and the Davis Sisters on church tours across the country. After four years in the group, he was moved on to lucrative secular music and joined The Falcons in 1959. He recorded the song “Let Me Be Your Boy” that same year with Florence Ballard and The Primettes as background singers.
Pickett started recording as a solo artist and in 1963, his song “It’s Too Late” peaked at number seven on the R&B charts. He went on to rise to stardom with Stax Records studio in Memphis, Tennessee, where he recorded his third Atlantic single, “In the Midnight Hour.” The song hit number one and sold over one million copies, for which Pickett was awarded a gold disc.
Throughout the 1990s, Pickett was in trouble with the law, but he continued to be honored for his music. Pickett wrote songs for numerous top recording artists, such as Bruce Springsteen, Genesis, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Grateful Dead, and many others . He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. Pickett died in 2006 at the age of 64.