Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wilson Pickett

These clips come from a short documentry of Wilson Pickett on tour in Germany, 1968. The Wicked Pickett indeed. From the same show.
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.

21 comments:

Alex said...

I saw him on Johnny Carson once, sometime in the early seventies I'd guess. He was flyin' high and talkin' shit. No clue what song he did, but the interview portion was unforgettable.

Sam said...

My first concert was Wilson Pickett in the late 60s.He was wild, couldnt here the vocals very well as it was in a hockey rink in Salem VA. But still ,unbelievably exciting.

J.D. King said...

"...he was truly nuts... 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... 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."

LOL!

jneilnyc said...

It's also worth renting "Soul To Soul" (1971) to see Wilson whip an audience in Ghana - most of whom had probably never seen a big electric concert of this sort - into a frenzy:

Midnight Hour

Land Of 1000 Dances

Cavorting with Nudists said...

"Shooting one of the Isley Brothers in the head"--yes, that would seem to be skirting jail time, alright. But what's the story there, Hound? Google doesn't turn up nuthin.'

The Hound said...

""Shooting one of the Isley Brothers in the head"--yes, that would seem to be skirting jail time, alright. But what's the story there, Hound? Google doesn't turn up nuthin.'"


The internet is a terrible way to attempt to research anything I must say. And don't believe what you read on Wikapedia, I'm always putting up false stuff just to see how long it stays up before someone corrects it (some of my fanciful, historical funnies have been up for years).
Getting back to Wilson Pickett vs. the Isley Brothers, There were actually two shooting incidents between them, one was on a hunting trip in the Catskills when Pickett starting shooting at one of them through a hotel door, he was arrested on a felony charge of reckless endngerment and weapon possesion, later in the 80's in Europe he shot one of them (I can't remember which) in the face, said Isley ended up losing an eyeball. Pickett got off claiming it was an accident. I believe the latter incident was in the Netherlands, where you only get 8-10 years for a murder anyway...

Cavorting with Nudists said...

You know, If I were an Isley Brother, I might have started getting just a bit nervous when in the vicinity of Wilson Pickett.

Anonymous said...

I noticed that the one Isley brother who always carried a cane (one of the older guys who sang backup) disappeared from the act around the middle of the eighties. (Not the one who died...) Maybe Pickett and his pistol were a major reason why?

The Hound said...

"I noticed that the one Isley brother who always carried a cane (one of the older guys who sang backup) disappeared from the act around the middle of the eighties."

I think Ronald Isley left the group for a bit in the eighties, he was sentenced to 37 months in prison for tax evasion in 2007 and is currently doing time at the Terre Haute Federal Corrections Institution in Indiana. You can write to him there.

Anonymous said...

Damn right, the Wicked Pickett!!!

I remember reading about the 'donuts in the mayor's lawn' incident in the paper. I seem to remember he was waving a pistol and threatening to shoot the mayor too. More of the same please for our elected officials.

The footage with Pickett is the best part of Only the Strong Survive, in my opinion, the rest of which being a little too fawning and fanboyish for my taste.

Great clips, thanks for posting them, Hound.

Best,
Lee

Chris said...

For info on one of the Pickett shootings: Jet (December 12, 1974)

Anonymous said...

awesome! thanks for posting. the crowd is nuts too. there was only one Wicked! never mind the bollocks, Pickett had SOUL

Joe Bonomo said...

Phenomenal live stuff. And the last 45 seconds, brutal edit and all, of Land of 1000 Dances are still among the most exciting in R&R.

The Hound said...

"The footage with Pickett is the best part of Only the Strong Survive, in my opinion, the rest of which being a little too fawning and fanboyish for my taste."

Never saw it, but if you ever see the German thing the above clips are from grab it, it's quite a piece of work....

Jumpy said...

I have newfound respect for Wilson Pickett!
PJL

J.D. King said...

"...one was on a hunting trip in the Catskills when Pickett starting shooting at one of them through a hotel door..."

That's okay. He mistook him for a deer. Happens all the time.

Holly said...

Do you know the identity of the drummer?

roscoe said...

man that is some hard hitting shit right there.
damn.

The Hound said...

"Do you know the identity of the drummer?"

Al Jackson is on the earliest Atlantic sides (Midnight Hour, Mustang Sally), Roger Hawkins is on Land Of 1000 Dances and Hey Jude, Sammy Creason is probably playing on the stuff cut in Miami, I have no idea the name of the guy in the above footage which was Pickett's road band circa 1968.

Gramercy7 said...

I can't begin to express how superior this German performance (which may have Robert Ward on guitar, BTW) is to any of the 4 or 5 times I actually saw Pickett live at various venues beginning in the late Seventies. His
preferred stage strategy, as I recall, was to sing for about 20 minutes before he began inviting audience members onto the stage so that he could hold up the microphone and let one of THEM sing the song, or do goofy dance steps with him, or...well, almost anything BUT perform the show he presumably was paid to do. Wilson also failed to show up for his own induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, although that may be a plus so far as The Hound is concerned!

contactos madrid said...

Thanks for the post, pretty helpful data.

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