Page last updated at 10:49 GMT, Friday, 20 January 2006

Wilson Pickett's musical legacy

Wilson Pickett
Pickett was known for his energetic stage performances
Soul legend Wilson Pickett, who has died at the age of 64, was known for his enduring soul hits, which helped move the genre into a more energetic period.

His biggest hits Mustang Sally and In the Midnight Hour have transcended the decades since their release in the 1960s and are seen as the corner stone of soul music.

Born in Alabama in 1941, Pickett had 10 brothers and sisters in a household heavily influenced by gospel music. His grandfather was a preacher who refused to allow Pickett to sing non-religious songs in the house.

In his mid-teens, Pickett moved to Detroit to live with his father, and began to be inspired by local singers such as Jackie Wilson.

He gravitated away from gospel singing to join an R&B group called the Falcons, honing his songwriting skills.

He had several early solo hits, including If You Need Me, which went on to be covered by the Rolling Stones and Solomon Burke, with whom he became great friends.

Songwriting dispute

Pickett signed with Atlantic Records in 1964, releasing In the Midnight Hour the following year.

Wilson Pickett and Bruce Springsteen
Pickett was joined Bruce Springsteen on stage in 1999

The song was said to be co-written by him and Booker T and the MGs guitarist Steve Cropper but later became the subject of a dispute when Pickett claimed he should have been given a sole writing credit.

Cropper called this "crazy" and that Pickett "had nothing to do with writing that music".

Other hits during the 1960s included the much-covered 634-5789, Land of the 1,000 Dances and Funky Broadway.

As well as raucous soul music, Pickett was also known for his experimental cover versions of songs including the Beatles Hey Jude and Steppenwolf's Born to Be Wild.

By the 1970s his popularity and marketability was on the wane, with a switch in labels doing little to revive his music career.

Jail term

When Irish-set film The Commitments was released in 1991 featuring his most popular songs, Pickett's musical legacy was rejuvenated.

The same year he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, cementing his role in the history of music.

Rest in peace the Wicked Pickett. You leave behind a legacy of great soul music
Mike Gott, Bolton, UK

But around the same time, Pickett's personal life was going through a torrid period.

In 1991 he was arrested for driving over a mayor's front lawn while allegedly yelling death threats. He was also charged with assaulting a girlfriend.

Two years later he was jailed for one year for hitting an 86-year-old man while drunk-driving.

Cocaine possession and carrying a loaded gun charges were also levelled at him.

But close friend Solomon Burke said Pickett had turned his life around and they were planning to write and record an album with Ben E King and Don Covay.

Pickett, a father of four, released his last album in 1999, the Grammy-nominated It's Harder Now.

video and audio news
See soul legend Wilson Pickett in action

Soul singer Wilson Pickett dies
20 Jan 06 |  Entertainment

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