Jacke Wilson is the creator of the History of Literature podcast series, exploring topics ranging from Gilgamesh’s epic poem to contemporary classics. Aside from writing, Jacke Wilson is also an avid reader and strong proponent for literary arts.
Berry Gordy of Motown issued Wilson and other Detroit singers a challenge: to achieve crossover success on pop charts as they move from rhythm-and-blues charts. Wilson’s vocal talents made this possible.
Early Life and Education
Wilson was an adept multioctave tenor who began singing professionally as a teenager. He founded the Every Ready Gospel Singers Group, as well as touring with local R&B bands; all while managing truancy issues that twice led him to Lansing Correctional Institute.
On one performance of Dick Clark’s Shindig, he suffered a heart attack that resulted in him striking his head against stage equipment, leaving him unconscious but aware of his surroundings despite never speaking again. It is thought he may still have some awareness.
Berry Gordy Jr and Billy Davis of Detroit wrote many of Wilson’s Brunswick hits, adapting classic classical pieces such as Saint Saens’ Samson and Delilah or Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci with English lyrics for popular use by Wilson’s Brunswick label, Brunswick Records. Gordy would then combine his royalties from Wilson’s songs along with loans from his parents to form Motown Records in 1957.
After leaving the Thrillers, Wilson went solo. Signing with Brunswick Records with Nat Tarnopol as his manager, Wilson hired Detroit musicians for use at his Flame Show Bar and for other entertainers like LaVern Baker, Johnny Ray and Della Reese.
Wilson enjoyed success in the recording studio but struggled to crack pop and R&B charts as a professional baseball player. Though ex-major leaguers were present at third base on all three of his PCL teams, Wilson never saw consistent playing time on them.
Wilson was a major musical influence on Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and other top artists of the 1950s. He pioneered soul and had hits across R&B, pop and doo-wop genres.
Achievement and Honors
Wilson contributed articles and chapters for several scientific journals and books during his professional career. His “Gas Lasers” appeared in Applied Optics in Engineering VI and chapters for “Laser Sources.” Additionally, Wilson received both the Manly Memorial Medal from Federation Aeronautical International as well as Soaring Gold Badge recognitions.
Wilson made an impression with early soul-pop hits like 1967 single “Higher and Higher”, featuring heavy orchestration and frenetic backing by Motown’s Funk Brothers, making the song an instantaneous hit for Rita Coolidge and Michael Jackson alike. Wilson was even honored with being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Unfortunately in 1975 Wilson suffered a severe heart attack on stage while performing live, never performing again until his death in 1984.
Wilson was an inveterate drinker and often under the influence during concerts. He received minimal formal education and had twice been arrested as a juvenile delinquent; once for chronic truancy and again for other offenses against the law. Wilson competed as an amateur boxing competitor on Detroit’s Golden Gloves circuit until his mother forced him to stop after reaching his teenage years.
Wilson signed with Brunswick Records – a subsidiary of Decca for Black pop/rock artists – which had a well-regarded subsidiary for Black artists such as Wilson’s band. According to legend, Nat Tarnopol who ran Brunswick and was close with Wilson introduced himself into production of Wilson’s recordings and made creative suggestions like inserting tympani rolls at inappropriate points during arrangements.
Wilson did not rely on elaborate stage props or garish costumes when performing; rather, his performances consisted of him wearing similar attire seen elsewhere – close-fitting suits (he preferred an upscale mohair-silk fabric blend) with tasteful neckties.
Wilson’s football prowess quickly propelled him into the spotlight of sports world. A member of Legion of Boom, Wilson earned multiple Super Bowl rings and Pro Bowl accolades during this era; additionally he appeared in various films and TV shows that achieved commercial success.
Wilson is an attentive father and husband away from the cheering crowds and stadium roars, voice acting for Lightning McQueen in Cars video games and amassing significant wealth from both his professional career, acting roles and endorsements such as becoming face of UK sofa retailer Sofology; Wedding Crashers as well as You Me Dupree with Kate Hudson have featured him prominently as well. It has been estimated that Wilson currently is estimated at worth $22.7 Million.