brought the gruff, throaty power of his gospel-trained voice to bear on some of the most incendiary soul music of the Sixties. Some of his best work, including “In the Midnight Hour” and “634-5789,” was cut in the mid-Sixties at Stax studios in Memphis and released on Atlantic Records. Pickett also connected with the crew of house musicians at Muscle Shoals, where, beginning in 1966, he cut such memorable soul smashes as “Land of 1,000 Dances,” “Mustang Sally” and “Funky Broadway.” Pickett enjoyed a steady run of hits on Atlantic, leaving behind a legacy of some of the deepest, funkiest soul music ever to emerge from the South.
Wilson Pickett was born on March 18, 1941, in Prattville, Alabama. He sang in the town’s Baptist church as a boy. Then, in 1955, his family moved to Detroit. He began singing in a local gospel-harmony group, the Violinaires. Then, around 1959, he crossed over into secular music, joining the Falcons. In addition to Pickett, the Falcons included future soul stars Eddie Floyd and Sir Mack Rice. The Falcons’ gospel-influenced R&B style gave shape to the Detroit soul scene of the early Sixties, and their biggest hit, “I Found a Love,” spent 16 weeks on the R&B chart, peaking at Number Six. The success of that record eventually led to Pickett’s signing to Atlantic Records.
Nicknamed “the Wicked Pickett” for his boasting, uninhibited style, the talented singer came into his own during his 1965 sessions at Stax, arranged by Atlantic’s Jerry Wexler. Pickett collaborated with Booker T. and the M.G.’s guitarist Steve Cropper on “In the Midnight Hour,” one of the most enduring soul classics of all time. The song was a Number One R&B smash and Pickett’s first Top 40 pop hit. Its success signaled a new era of soul, in which the focus shifted to the looser, funkier sounds of the South. It also launched a string of raucous hits by Pickett, including “Don’t Fight It,” “Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won’t Do)” and “634-5789.” (Source: www.rockhall.com)