They called him Mr. Excitement – Jackie Wilson

Courtesy of Rob Durkee

His on-stage moves inspired Michael Jackson. He was Jody Watley’s godfather. And he was part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s second class. 

 Jackie Wilson was all that and more. He began singing with the legendary group the Dominos…but on this day in 1957, he made his solo single debut in the USA with a song that was even bigger in England.

How big? So big…that it went to #1 in the UK as a re-released single in 1986…29 years after its first being released…and two years after Jackie’s death…

 “Reet Petite (The Finest Girl You Ever Want To Meet)” was the first of over 50 solo hits for Jackie…and it got a boost when a twenty-something DJ named Casey Kasem helped break the record. 

To give you an idea of how he got the nickname of Mr. Excitement, here’s the proof in the form of the first of his half dozen top 10 hits…

As exciting as he was on stage with his dance moves, Jackie was every bit as smooth with his hit ballads. None was better than this one, his biggest pop hit from 1960…(Oh, and check out the dramatic final sung note at the 2:31 mark)…

Sadly, Jackie Wilson suffered a heart attack on September 29, 1975, while performing on stage in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He never recovered. A lack of oxygen to his brain at the time of the heart attack would make him spend the rest of his life bedridden in a vegetative state. In 1977, Casey Kasem did an update on Jackie on “American Top 40” and gave out an address for fans to send Jackie get-well wishes. Jackie Wilson was 49 when he died on January 21, 1984. 

Jackie’s life was riddled with tragedies. He was cheated out of thousands of dollars in royalties. For example, on the record label for “Doggin’ Around,” the songwriter was listed as someone who wasn’t even born yet…the future son of his manager. This fact was verified in the book “The Hit Men.”

For more on Jackie’s life