Wilson Pickett, the soul singer best known for the hits Mustang Sally and In the Midnight Hour, has died of a heart attack, aged 64.
Pickett had been suffering from health problems for the past year and died in a hospital yesterday near his home in Virginia.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, the same year that his career was revived as a result of several of his songs being featured in the Alan Parker film The Commitments. Pickett, who is survived by his fiancée and four children, will be buried beside his mother Lena in Louisville, Kentucky.
One of the most popular black singers of the ’60s, Wilson Pickett helped introduce the aggressive style of rhythmic style of soul music. Aided immeasurably by the excellent studio bands backing him at the Stax Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, and The Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals Alabama, Pickett scored a series of R&B and pop hits on Atlantic Records between 1963 and 1972 that included “In the Midnight Hour,” “Mustang Sally,” and “Funky Broadway.”
Raised in Prattville, Alabama, Wilson Pickett moved to Detroit, Michigan at the age of sixteen and made his professional debut as the lead singer of The Violinaires in the late ’50s. From 1961 to 1963 he was in The Falcons, writing and singing their 1962 hit “I Found Love.” Pickett then went solo and signed with Lloyd Price’s Double L Records, where he wrote and recorded “If You Love Me” and “It’s Too Late.”
In 1964, Pickett signed with Atlantic Records and did his early recordings in the Stax studio in Memphis, Tennessee with Booker T. Jones and Steve Cropper of The MGs. Cropper co-authored three of his early hits, “In the Midnight Hour” and “Don’t Fight It”. (Cropper, with friend Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn is part of the band in The Blues Brothers). from his debut album The Exciting Wilson Pickett that established him as a major soul star. The album also included “Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won’t Do),” “She’s So Good to Me,” and “Land of a 1,000 Dances,” (covered by The Revillos in the early ‘80’s) all recorded at Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals.
I think I’ll be watching The Commitments again over the weekend.