Today is the birthday of one of the greatest soul singers of all time,
Jackie Wilson. If you've ever heard "Reet Petite" or "Lonely
Teardrops," you know what we're talking about. Wilson combined
outstanding showmanship (this guy could dance!), with a bag of tricks
that included spins, somersaults and splits. And he could really sing.
He brought a highly person, distinctive stamp to his singing. Listen
to "Lonely Teardrops" and appreciate the extremely mannered approach
he took when recording his vocal. Wilson's influence can be seen in
many of the soul singers that came after him, including Michael
Jackson. He was a member of Billy Ward's Dominoes, but left the group
to go solo. singing with Brunswick Records in the '50s. He first hit
big in the late '50s covering songs written for him by Berry Gordy
Jr., before Gordy started Motown. He sang everything from high energy
funk to supper club ballads, sustaining a long career. He died January
21, 1984 at the age of 49. By then he was confined to a nursing home,
after he had a heart attack in 1975 and suffered brain damage.