Say It's Your Birthday: Jackie Wilson

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.