Jack Leroy Wilson was born on June 9, 1934 in Detroit, Michigan. At twelve years of age he sang with the “Ever Ready Gospel Singers” a very popular group with Detroit’s black churches.
Encouraged by his mother to a singing career, Jackie at 19 joined Billy Ward & the Dominoes, replacing Clyde McPhatter who left the group to form the Drifters. Three years later Jackie Wilson had his first hit as a solo artist with “Reet Petite,” followed in 1958 with “To Be Loved” and “Lonely Teardrops” his first gold record.
In 1959 “That’s Why I Love You So” and “I’ll Be Satisfied” landed on the Hit Parade. “Night” would peak at #4 in 1960, followed by “Doggin’ Around,” “All My Love,” “A Woman, a Lover, a Friend” and another top five smash, “Alone at Last.” “My Empty Arms” was a top ten hit in 1961 and “Baby Workout” top five in 1963. With more than 70 hit singles on Pop and R&B charts, Jackie’s final top ten hit, “Higher and Higher” was in 1967.
Jackie Wilson’s on stage presentation earned him the nickname “Mr. Excitement.” It was during one of those appearances on September 28, 1975 while singing “Lonely Teardrops” at the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Jackie suffered a heart attack and went into a coma that would hospitalize him until his death nine years later on January 21, 1984. He was only 49 years of age as he was buried at Westlawn Cemetery near Detroit.
Jackie Wilson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987 and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2008.