I'd had this short, German TV documentary of Wilson Pickett and his band touring Germany circa 1968 for years on VHS tape. I just noticed some clips from it on Youtube and decided to post 'em since it's some of the best classic soul footage I've ever seen.
Wilson Pickett, born March 14, 1941, in Pratville, Alabama, to an abusive mother, was sent north to live with his father in Detroit at a young age. He began singing in church and was influenced mostly by the Sensational Nightingales' screaming lead singer Rev. Julius Cheeks.
Pickett joined the Violianaires as a teenager and hit the gospel highway. He eventually left and went R&B, replacing Joe Stubbs in the Falcons, an early Detroit super group, best known at the time for You're So Fine, the group included at various times Sir Mack Rice and Eddie Floyd. He sang lead on their biggest hit- I Found A Love, one of the greatest soul records ever made, Pickett would re-record it several times over the years, but never matched the original version on the Lupine label. Here's another great Falcons record that Pickett sings lead on, Let's Kiss and Make Up with an incredible guitar solo from Robert Ward.
Striking out on his own in the wake of I Found A Love, he signed with Lloyd Price and Harold Logan's Double L label (Logan would be murdered at his Turntable club in 1970) where he charted with a couple of minor hits including If You Need Me (which the Stones covered in '65).
He signed to Atlantic in 1966 and was sent to Memphis to record with the Stax crew including Booker T. & the MGs, kicking off an incredible string of hits- Midnight Hour, Mustang Sally, his killer re-working of Land of 1000 Dances, Funk Broadway, etc. When Atlantic and Stax split he recorded at Muscle Shoals and in Miami with the Dixie Flyers, but Pickett seemed to run out of material and his later Atlantic records were usually covers of recent pop hits-- Hey Jude, Sugar Sugar, Born To Be Wild, good versions, but songs are rarely hits twice in a row, and Pickett's career suffered. Despite selling millions of records, his royalty statement showed him owing Atlantic money. Atlantic, for all their self serving re-writing of history, took the money they made in R&B and re-invested it in white, English rock groups like Led Zepplin, Yes, the Rolling Stones, etc. and left the soul and R&B stars who built the company out in the cold. Pickett was dropped from Atlantic and never had a big hit again, although he had a few minor R&B chart showings as late as 1987 (Don't Turn Away which went to #74 R&B that year).
I miss Wilson Pickett, he was truly nuts, and was always fun for making local news headlines, doing crazy things like taking a loaded shotgun into a bar, doing donuts with his Cadillac on the mayor of Englewood, New Jersey's (where he lived) lawn, shooting one of the Isley Brothers in the head, and other headline grabbing antics. He barely avoided jail time. A friend of mine who will remain nameless played in his band briefly and said if he didn't like the way you played that night you were in for a pistol whipping. The Wicked Pickett indeed. He died in 2006.