Like the rest of the great soul artists of the sixties, Wilson Pickett came up singing gospel music in church. After his family moved to Detroit, Pickett crossed over to pop music in the Falcons, a group that included future notables Eddie Floyd and Sir Mack Rice in addition to Pickett himself. Pickett scored his first hit — “I Found a Love” — with the Falcons in 1962.
Pickett went solo after the hit; Atlantic Records picked him up in 1965. Atlantic’s Jerry Wexler smartly sent Pickett to Stax in Memphis and teamed him up with Steve Cropper. According to Peter Guralnick, Pickett and Cropper “sat down to work out a rhythmic idea Pickett had been carrying aruond in his head for some time.” The result was the huge soul hit “In the Midnight Hour.” When Stax severed its relationship with Atlantic, Atlantic found another base for Pickett at the Fame studio in Muscle Shoals. The rest of Pickett’s sixties hits came out of Muscle Shoals.
Pickett died today of a heart attack at age 64. Tom Spaulding notes Pickett’s passing here. The Los Angeles Times has posted an excellent obituary by Geoff Boucher here. RIP.
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