TDR-Classic Song and Artist: JACKIE WILSON with HIGHER AND HIGHER. Jackie Wilson (Jack Leroy Wilson Jr.) was a tenor with a 4 Octave Vocal Range, a great Soul Singer and a dynamic performer. We called Jackie, Mr. Dynamite," and he became a key to the transition of R&B to Soul Music. Jackie began his career singing in the R&B Group, "Billy Ward and His Dominoe's," but soon was urged to go solo, which he did in 1957.
"Wilson recorded over 50 hit singles that spanned R&B, pop, soul, doo-wop and easy listening. This included 16 R&B Top 10 hits, including six R&B number ones. On the Billboard Hot 100, he scored 14 Top 20 Pop hits, six of which made it into the Hot 100 Top 10."
He was a cross-over pioneer at a time when the charts were racially divided, and the Black Chart was called: "Race Music." Jackie Wilson was one of the most influential artists of his generation and an inspiration to other singers including Elvis Presley, James Brown and Michael Jackson. I can attest to that because James Brown himself referred to Jackie as "The Greatest Ever." Then tragedy struck, on September 29, 1975, while headlining a Dick Clark Oldies Concert, he suffered a major heart attack and collapsed on Stage. Rushed to the hospital he was in a Coma for 8 months and then slipped into a semi-coma until his death in 1984 at age 49. I remember at the time trying to imagine what it was like seeing him in that state for all those years while remembering how energetic and active he had been throughout his career.
His funeral was huge.Mr. Wilson was a two time Grammy Hall of Fame inductee: for "Higher and Higher" and "Lonely Teardrops," and then inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. I sometimes try to Visualize Rock and Roll Heaven," with all it's various areas, and just now I could see Elvis and James Brown grinning at Jackie Wilson and saying, "Show us that split step one more time;" may his soul continue to rest in the Cosmic Peace.
Scott found a cool video with fairly good color picture and great sound of the legendary Jackie Wilson in his prime, singing and dancing his Big Hit Song, "Higher and Higher," if you look closely I think you'll see a lot of steps later used by James Brown and Michael Jackson...Jackie was the Ur performer, and a very Cool Cat. @therealdonrocks
A version of this post originally appeared on The Don Rocks Facebook page. For more stories like these every day, join us on Facebook and Twitter.