Wilson Pickett was one of the key architects of soul music, laying the groundwork for the developing genre with high-energy hits including “Mustang Sally,” “Land of 1,000 Dances,” and “In the Midnight Hour.” We remember Pickett’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
Wilson Pickett was one of the key architects of soul music, laying the groundwork for the developing genre with high-energy hits including “Mustang Sally,” “Land of 1,000 Dances,” and “In the Midnight Hour.” The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member worked with greats including Isaac Hayes, Duane Allman, and producer Jerry Wexler, and he wrote songs that have been covered by artists as diverse as Van Halen, Roxy Music, and Ani DiFranco. We remember Pickett’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1952: Mike Webster, U.S. professional football player with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs considered by many to be the best center in NFL history, is born in Tomahawk, Wisconsin.
Webster was widely considered one of the game’s greatest centers, and he was voted in 2000 to the All-Time NFL Team. During his career from 1974-90, he made the Pro Bowl nine times and won four Super Bowls in his first six seasons. When he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997, he was separated from his wife and children. There also were reports he was heavily in debt, living in his car at times, and was suffering from depression and memory loss. Read more
1947: B.J. Wilson, English drummer with Procol Harum, is born in London, England.
1945: Eric Woolfson, Scottish singer-songwriter and co-creator of the Alan Parsons Project, is born in Glasgow, Scotland.
Together with Alan Parsons he founded the group, whose music was popular in the U.S. and Germany. After the group disbanded in the 1990s, Woolfson continued to work as a music producer and composer of musicals. Read more
1941: Wilson Pickett, U.S. soul singer-songwriter known for hits including “Mustang Sally” and “In the Midnight Hour,” is born in Prattville, Alabama.
Over the course of a decadeslong 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. Pickett’s first single came in 1962, with “If You Need Me,” but three years would pass before he made it to the top of the charts. The song that got him thkere was 1965’s “In the Midnight Hour.” Read more
1937: Mark Donohue, U.S. race car driver who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1972, is born in Haddon Township, New Jersey.
1934: Roy Chapman, English professional footballer and manager who was the father of former Arsenal and Leeds United striker Lee Chapman, is born in Birmingham, England.
1932: John Updike, U.S. author known for novels including “The Witches of Eastwick” and “Rabbit, Run,” is born in Reading, Pennsylvania.
A literary writer who frequently appeared on best-seller lists, the tall, hawk-nosed Updike wrote novels, short stories, poems, criticism, the memoir Self-Consciousness, and even a famous essay about baseball great Ted Williams. He was prolific, even compulsive, releasing more than 50 books in a career that started in the 1950s. Updike won virtually every literary prize, including two Pulitzers, for “Rabbit Is Rich” and “Rabbit at Rest,” and two National Book awards. Although himself deprived of a Nobel, he did bestow it upon one of his fictional characters, Henry Bech, the womanizing, egotistical Jewish novelist who collected the literature prize in 1999. Read more
1933: Philip Roth, Pulitzer-prize winning author known for his honest look at Jewish identity and male sexuality and who wrote “Goodbye Columbus,” is born in Newark, New Jersey.
1927: George Plimpton, U.S. journalist, author, and actor who founded The Paris Review, is born in New York, New York.
Praised as a “central figure in American letters” when inducted in 2002 to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Plimpton also enjoyed a lifetime of making literature out of nonliterary pursuits. He boxed with Archie Moore, pitched to Willie Mays, and performed as a trapeze artist for the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus. He acted in numerous films, including “Reds” and “Good Will Hunting.” He even appeared in an episode of “The Simpsons,” playing a professor who runs a spelling bee. Read more
1927: Lillian Vernon, U.S. businesswoman and philanthropist whose eponymous catalog company became the first founded by a woman to be traded on the American Stock Exchange, is born in Leipzig, Weimar Republic.
1926: Peter Graves, U.S. actor known for roles on TV’s “Mission: Impossible” and in the movie “Airplane!”, is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Graves first gained attention of many baby boomers with the 1950s TV series “Fury,” but he remained best known for the role of Jim Phelps, leader of a gang of special agents who battled evil conspirators on TV’s “Mission: Impossible.” Normally cast as a hero, he turned in an unforgettable performance early in his career as the treacherous Nazi spy in Billy Wilder’s 1953 prisoner-of-war drama “Stalag 17.” He also masterfully lampooned his straight-arrow image when he portrayed bumbling airline pilot Clarence Oveur in the 1980 disaster movie spoof “Airplane!” Read more
1922: Fred Shuttlesworth, U.S. civil rights activist who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and worked closely with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is born in Mount Meigs, Alabama.
He survived a 1956 bombing, an assault during a 1957 demonstration, chest injuries when Birmingham authorities turned fire hoses on demonstrators in 1963, and countless arrests. “I went to jail 30 or 40 times, not for fighting or stealing or drugs,” Shuttlesworth told grade school students in 1997. “I went to jail for a good thing, trying to make a difference.” Read more
1915: Richard Condon, U.S. author whose notable novels include “The Manchurian Candidate” and “Prizzi’s Honor,” is born in New York, New York.
1911: Smiley Burnette, U.S. actor and singer who had a regular role on the TV sitcom “Petticoat Junction,” is born in Summum, Illinois.
1909: Ernest Gallo, U.S. businessman who founded the E.&J. Gallo winery, is born in Jackson, California.
He and his late brother and business partner, Julio, grew up working in the vineyard owned by their immigrant father who came to America from Italy’s famed winemaking region of Piedmont. They founded the E.&J. Gallo Winery in 1933, at the end of Prohibition, when they were still mourning the murder-suicide deaths of their parents. Ernest and Julio rented a ramshackle building, and everybody in the family pitched in to make ordinary wine for 50 cents a gallon – half the going price. The Gallos made $30,000 the first year. It grew to become the world’s largest wine company by volume, a title since taken by Constellation Brands of New York. But Gallo remains second, selling an estimated 75 million cases under more than 40 labels. Read more
1909: C. Walter Hodges, English artist best known for illustrating children’s books, is born in Beckenham, Kent.
1907: John Zachary Young, English zoologist and neurophysiologist described as “one of the most influential biologists of the 20th century,” is born in Bristol, England.
1905: Robert Donat, English actor who starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps” (1935) and “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (1939), for which he won an Academy Award, is born in Withington, Manchester, England.
1893: Wilfred Owen, English soldier who penned classic First World War poems including “Dulce et Decorum est” and “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” before being killed in action one week before the Armistice, is born in Oswestry, Shropshire, England.
1886: Edward Everett Horton, U.S. character actor who had a long career in film, theater, radio, television, and voice work for animated cartoons, is born in Brooklyn, New York.
1877: Edgar Cayce, U.S. psychic who is considered by some to be the founder of the New Age movement, is born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
1870: Agnes Sime Baxter, Canadian mathematician who was one of the first women in North American to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics, is born in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
1869: Neville Chamberlain, English politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940, is born in Edgbaston, Birmingham, England.
1844: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Russian composer known for works including “Scheherazade,” is born in Tikhvin, Russia.
1837: Grover Cleveland, U.S. politician who was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States, serving from 1885 to 1889 and 1893 to 1897, is born in Caldwell, New Jersey.