January 20, 2006

Wilson Pickett (1941-2006)

Wilson Pickett, the impassioned, raw-voiced soul singer who brought a hard-edged, sensuous urgency to a string of rhythm-and-blues hits of the 1960s, died Thursday of a heart attack at Reston, Va., Hospital Center. He had lived in Ashburn, Va., since 1999. He was 64.

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Thanks to his hits "Mustang Sally" and "In the Midnight Hour," Wicked Pickett - not a more obvious legend like James Brown or the Four Tops - was the one who kicked off my love of R&B and funk music. Coincidentally, his offscreen presence is the "MacGuffin" of my favourite Irish movie, The Commitments, about the birth, life, and death of an R&B organized by the protagonist in an attempt to impress Pickett.