Singer Wilson Pickett is shown in this March 1981 file photo. (AP Photo/EMI)
Wilson Pickett, born on this day in 1941, helped shape the sound of R&B with his energetic hits. Over the course of a decades-long career, he worked with greats like Isaac Hayes, Donald "Duck" Dunn, producer Jerry Wexler and others. And he made it to the top of the R&B charts five times, singing songs we still love today. Here's a look at those No. 1 hits.
Pickett's first single came in 1962, with "If You Need Me," but it would be three years before he made it to the top of the charts. The song that got him there was 1965's "In the Midnight Hour."
It wasn't long before Pickett was back on top. In 1966, he released his second (and arguably greatest) album, The Exciting Wilson Pickett, and its first single – "634-5789 (Soulsville, USA)" – went straight to No. 1.
Later that year, another song from The Exciting Wilson Pickett hit No. 1. It's one of the all-time best songs whose title is never mentioned in the lyrics: "Land of 1000 Dances."
Pickett was back at No. 1 in 1967 with "Funky Broadway." One of the earliest prototypical funk songs, it has the distinction of being the first song with the word "funky" in the title ever to chart.
Pickett's final stint at the top of the charts came a few years later with 1971’s "Don't Knock My Love." Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross would record a popular cover version two years later.
But wait! There's one missing, you say? Well, even though it's one of Pickett's best-known and best-loved songs, "Mustang Sally" stalled at No. 6 on the R&B chart (and didn't even crack the top 20 on the pop charts). Still, we love "Mustang Sally" – and even though it wasn't a No. 1 hit for Wilson Pickett, it will always be tops in our hearts.
Written by Linnea Crowther