"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."

(Leonard Bernstein)


"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)


"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."

(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)


"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)


"Absolute id crashed into absolute superego...as the uptightset man in America shook hands with just about the loosest."

(Mark Feeney on the 'Elvis meets Nixon' meeting)


"Elvis is everywhere"

(Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper)


"...especially in the South, they talk about Elvis and Jesus in the same breath"

(Michael Ventura, LA Weekly)








Wilson Pickett & Elvis

- Soul Legend Obituary -

by Piers Beagley



Wilson Pickett, born in Prattville, Alabama on March 18th 1941, died January 18th 2006 of a heart attack.

One of the greatest souls singers of all-time, there may seem to be little connection with Elvis Presley.

However at the peak of his success in the mid-sixties the "Wicked Pickett" caused similar controversy to Middle-America as Elvis had done in the fifties. Not only that but Wilson Pickett perfected his soul-style only after relocating to Memphis.

Wilson Pickett's classic ‘In The Midnight Hour’ was cut in Memphis’ Stax Studios and in 1967 Pickett had a very fruitful relationship with Chips Moman at ‘American Studios’ two years before Elvis’ dynamic ‘Suspicious Minds’ sessions.

Quoting writer Kevin Phinney. .
"When Wilson Pickett's ‘In The Midnight Hour’ hit the charts in June 1965, rock 'n' roll was little more than a decade old. Worried parents continued to hope the furore would prove a passing tad, while fearmongers publicly decried the corrupting influence of "jungle music" from podiums and pulpits around the country.
"The Wicked Pickett" was the personification of many adults' worst nightmares, and ‘In The Midnight Hour’ made real their most secret dread. Threats to conventional morality were manifold. For starters, Wilson Pickett was one of the handsomest men ever to clutch a microphone. Worse, he was suave, debonair. Compared to tile competition in his native America, those letter-sweaterclad lads barely out of their teens, Pickett was easy to spot - a Lothario among; a gaggle of Andy Hardys whose voices hadn't finished changing."

Considering that by 1965 the once dangerous Elvis was well into his stream of "family-safe" sixties travelogue movies, this made Wilson Pickett even more threatening. It wouldn’t be until 1968 that Elvis would don the leather—suit to reclaim his power & prestige.

Listening to Pickett’s American Studio’s ‘I’m In Love’ you can hear the loving ache similar to Elvis’ ‘Long Black Limousine’ or ‘Only the Strong Survive’. Of course that "soulful sound" & that Memphis Horns funk have the same inspirational groove since both singers recorded with the same American Studio band.

In fact Elvis’ ‘Only The Strong Survive’ was composed by Gamble & Huff who also wrote & produced some of Pickett’s greatest songs.

Pickett’s vocal delivery of the gritty soulful-rasp is also similar to Elvis’ American Studios vocals, where an on-coming bout of laryngitis caused Elvis to record an astoundingly gritty session of soulful tracks in January 1969. Comparing Elvis’ ‘Wearin’ That Loved On Look’ or ‘Long Black Limousine’ with anything Pickett recorded in the same period shows that the pair could have easily teamed up to form a duo to outdo the formidable "Sam & Dave" (‘Soul Man’ etc). Now just imagine that live on stage!?

While ‘Mustang Sally’, ‘In the Midnight Hour’ plus ‘Land Of 1000 Dances’ are Pickett’s seminal work Elvis fans should also check out Pickett’s stunning version of The Beatles ‘Hey Jude’. Recorded at American Studios in 1968 Pickett’s version of 'Hey Jude' went Top Twenty in the charts. The similarity in arrangement & even vocal styles shows what Elvis was striving for - had anybody bothered to get Elvis the proper lyrics in time and given more time for the band to work out the final arrangement. Elvis’ half-finished version was scrapped, only to be released on the contract filler ‘Elvis Now’ in 1972.

Pickett experienced a career renaissance in 1991 with the release of the film ‘The Commitments’, which revolved around an Irish band that idolised him. Pickett was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the same year. His Grammy-nominated last album, 'It's Harder Now', was released in 1999.

In December 2004, "Mustang Sally" and "In the Midnight Hour" were included in Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time."

Wilson Pickett was one of the world's greatest singers and was still one of the funkiest live performers. Long-Live the "Wicked Pickett".

Below is a short list of Wilson Pickett’s best songs.

In The Midnight Hour
Land Of 1000 Dances
Mustang Sally
I'm In Love
Hey Jude
Ninety-Nine And One-Half (Won't Do)
I Found A Love
Everybody Needs Somebody To Love

EIN Copyright, January 2006-

Read Peter Guralnick’s marvellous book ‘Sweet Soul Music’ for the complete story.

Check out Wilson Pickett's Musical legacy at Amazon.

Click to comment on this spotlight


Latest Reviews
Book/CD: Memphis Recording Service
Book: Elvis and the Memphis Mafia
CD: All Shook Up (reggae tribute)
Book: The King's Ransom
Book: The King (graphic novel)
'Elvis On Tour Outtakes' DVD review
'Hitstory' CD EIN in depth review
CD: Hitstory (USA edition)
FTD: Summer Festival
Book: The Year the Music Changed
Playboy magazine: In Bed With Elvis
DVD: Born To Rock
Book: Elvis Aaron Presley: A Candle In The Wind
FTD: Too Much Monkey Business
Book: Desert Storm
Book: Elvis On Stamps
FTD: Elvis Today
Book: Elvis-UFO Connection
Book: Behind The Image Vol. 2
Book: Elvis on Screen
DVD: Elvis & Me
CD: All Shook Up
Book: Rough Guide to Elvis
DVD: Elvis by the Presleys
FTD: Rockin' Across Texas
FTD: Elvis Is Back
TV Special: "Elvis by the Presleys"
Book: Elvis by the Presleys
CD: A Legendary Performer Vol. 5
FTD: Big Boss Man
VCD: Joe Esposito's Home Videos of Elvis
Book: Complete Guide to Elvis Presley
CD: Now What (Lisa Presley)
Latest Articles
Graceland 2005
Elvis and Las Vegas
The man who bought Elvis (Robert Sillerman)
Presley Commission Report
Paul McCartney on Heartbreak Hotel
Barbara Pittman
Mario Lanza meets Elvis
A Kick Upwards For Elvis' Movies
How Mario Lanza influenced Elvis
Enduring economic power of Elvis
Graceland - the ultimate bachelor pad
Elvis was not a racist!
The Definitive Elvis "blues" album
Elvis on The Creative Edge - Part 2 - The CD
Schism between Elvis' stage & studio work
Tupelo, Miss.
Elvis vs. Jerry Lee Lewis
Elvis in the 1970s
How did Elvis die?
Latest Interviews
Lamar Fike (Part 2)
Lamar Fike (Part 1)
Marty Lacker (part 2)
Marty Lacker (part 1)
David Bendeth, producer of 'Elvis 30#1s'
Ernst Jorgensen
Ernst Jorgensen & Roger Semon 2002 FTD discussion
Ronald King (Elvis On Stamps)
Bernard Lansky
Albert Wertheimer
Priscilla Presley
Marshall Terrill
Lisa Presley on Larry King Show
Tony Joe White
Stanley Oberst
Bud Glass (part 2)
Red & Sonny West
Ed Bonja (Part 2)
Ernst Jorgensen
Phil Aitcheson (Presley Commission)
Graceland cam
Listen to the Elvis "strung out" in Vegas audio
The "Real" Elvis off-stage
Unreleased Elvis audio now online
View EPE Graceland tourism ads
View video of "All Shook Up" opening night on Broadway
All about Elvis
All about Elvis tribute artists
All about Lisa Presley
All about Graceland
Elvis film guide
Elvis Online Virtual Library
Elvis: sightings and faith
Elvis was a racist? (archives) *** new
Elvis Week 2005 ***new
Links to Elvis' family & friends
Online Elvis Symposium
Sale of EPE "Archives"
6th Elvis Website Survey
Spotlight on The King


"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"

(Dr. Garry Enders)


" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"



"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"

(humorist Dave Barry)


"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"

(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")


"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"

(Nick Tosches)