Hi everyone, this week we’re continuing our month-long look at Early Sixties Soul music.
Our artists for this week are Jackie Wilson, Solomon Burke & Little Willie John.
And our weekly recommended music posting features the following sections:
I. Brief Artist Bios
II. Freegal Music Recommendations Of The Week (streaming music*)
III. CD Music Recommendations Of The Week
IV. Videos Of This Weeks’ Artists/Groups
V. Wild Card Print Book Recommendation Of The Week
VI. References (for those who’d like to know a bit more about the artists of the week).
I. Brief Artist Bios:
Jackie Wilson: Wilson was born in Detroit in 1934. And like all the other musicians who helped create the new musical genre of Soul, he started out singing Gospel, then incorporated traditional Rhythm & Blues and Pop influences into his music to produce a classic early sixties Soul sound.
Wilson initially sang as a solo artist before joining Billy Ward’s band, the Dominos in 1953. He took over the singing duties from the great Clyde McPatter who left Ward’s band to form The Drifters. During Wilson’s tenure with The Dominos they had one hit Reet Petite (The Finest Girl You Ever Want To Meet) in which you can clearly hear the styles of Rhythm and Blues, Pop and Swing being woven together.
In 1957, Wilson left Ward’s band and launched his second solo career. He scored numerous hits in the next ten years starting with 1958’s To Be Loved. Other Wilson hits of the era include: Lonely Teardrops, I’ll Be Satisfied, Doggin’ Around, A Woman, A Lover, A Friend, Alone At Last, My Empty Arms, Baby Workout, (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher, and I Get The Sweetest Feeling. Wilson’s was a very energetic singer and a great performer. He was also a consistent hitmaker during the 1960s. However, it is notable that when Wilson recorded albums he focused on creating hits and so sometimes the depth and energy of his singing wasn’t captured in his studio recordings.
All in all though, Wilson richly deserves his place in music history as one of the founder of Soul Music – few singers of the era sang more energetically, and his rich tones when complimented by the right songs/song arraignments are wonderful to hear.
Wilson continued to perform into the nineteen seventies but, unfortunately, suffered a stroke while performing in Cherry Hill, New Jersey in 1975, at the very young age of 41, and was never able to perform again. Wilson died in 1984.
Solomon Burke: Burke was born on March 21, 1940 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Both his mother and his grandmother were preachers so he grew up with the sounds of Gospel woven into his life. And as a young man, Burke worked as a preacher and mortician before turning his launching a singing career.
Burke never had a pop hit, although he had many R&B hits, but he had a huge impact on the genres of Pop and Rock Music and was another founding pillar of the genre of Soul Music. Burke started out singing Gospel in his family’s church and went on to sing music that mixed Rhythm and Blues and Country Music with Pop overtones, polishing and transitioning that music into Soul Music as he went.
In the mid-sixties a radio show host referred to Burke as “The King Of Rock and Soul” and Burke loved the description and went with it, creating a stage persona that showed him larger than life, decked out like a king and sitting on a throne while he sang.
Burke recorded for Atlantic Records during its sixties heyday. And with his smooth vocals, flamboyant style and knack for storytelling, influenced a whole host of subsequent artists and groups including the Rolling Stones who covered two of his songs in their early years– Everybody Needs Somebody To Love (Rolling Stones No. 2), and Cry To Me (Out Of Our Heads). Burke’s R&B hits of the sixties included: Cry To Me, Just Out of Reach, Tonight’s The Night, Got To Get You Off My Mind, If You Need Me and Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye).
Post sixties, Burke continued to record and perform and actually died in an airport in Amsterdam while on tour in 2010. He was seventy years old, and according to his New York Times obituary, he was survived by 21 children, 90 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.
Little Willie John: John was born in Cullendale, Arkansas on November 15, 1937. He grew up in Detroit and his first hit was 1955’s All Around the World.
John’s vocals had great emotional depth and his voice was youthful in tone giving his music a very vibrant feeling.
John recorded for King Records, a lesser known label that the great sixties R&B/Soul labels Atlantic and Stax, and, was cited as a musical inspiration by many other performers including B.B. King, Al Green, Clyde McPhatter, James Brown, Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke.
John was a passionate individual and hot tempered when it came to slights – particularly those based on his lack of height – he was five feet, four inches tall. And in 1964 he stabbed a man and as a result, was sent to The Washington State Penitentiary. He died there under suspicious circumstances in 1968. Some sources say John died of a heart attack, others that he died of pneumonia and several contemporaries interviewed for his 2011 biography, Fever: Little Willie John A Fast Life, Mysterious Death and The Birth of Soul by Susan Whitall, claim that he was murdered. Whatever the cause of his John’s death, he died at the very young age of 30 leaving behind some great music. His hits include: Are You Ever Coming Back, Fever, Heartbreak, Home At Last, I Need Your Love So Bad, I’m Shakin’ and Let’s Rock While The Rockin’s Good.
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The Freegal Music Catalog homepage will display — it looks like this:
The Freegal Music app can be found in your app store and it looks like this:
II. Freegal Music Recommendations Of The Week:
Jackie Wilson:Archive ’57-’61:
This album contains a number of Wilson’s best songs including: Reet Petite, To Be Loved, Lonely Teardrops, I’ll Be Satisfied, Doggin’ Around, Night and more!
Here’s a link to stream the album Archive ’57 – ’61:
Solomon Burke: Proud Mary with Bonus Tracks
The songs on this collection include: These Arms Of Mine, I’ll Be Doggone, Please Send Me Someone To Love, The Generation Of Revelations, In The Ghetto and more.
Here’s link to stream the Proud Mary album:
Little Willie John:
All Around The World by Little Willie John from the Various Artists collection All Star Rock & Roll Revue:
In addition to Little Willie John, this album features a swinging version of Oh Babe by Lucky Millinder, a bouncy Voo-Vee-Ah-Bee by The Platters and Sixty Minute Man by Billy Ward & His Dominoes featuring Clyde McPhatter on vocals.
Here’s a link to stream the All Star Rock & Roll Revue album:
Fever by Little Willie John from the Various Artists collection 20 Soul Rarities:
Here’s a link to stream the album 20 Soul Rarities:
Freegal Wild Card Streaming Pick Of The Week:
The Complete Sessions with Bobby Hackett by Jackie Gleason:
If you’re only familiar with Jackie Gleason as portraying the everyday common man Ralph Kramden on the classic TV show the Honeymooners, than you are in for a treat! Jackie Gleason also had a musical career! In the fifties, he said that he thought there was a need to create smooth, romantic, easy listening instrumental music like the kind he saw, during romantic scenes in the movies, while he was growing up – and boy did he! Jackie Gleason’s albums feature rich, horn based instrumentals that are perfect to play as back ground music while reading, relaxing, unwinding while working out or even just de-stressing, wine glass in hand, after a hectic day.
If you go to the Freegal checkout page to stream the set you’ll notice Freegal has the musical category listed as Jazz. However, Jackie Gleason’s music really isn’t Jazz – it is the soft background music that later became known as lounge music and it is perfect music to play when you just want to shut your eyes and relax!
Freegal has several different Jackie Gleason albums in its catalog, including this set of Gleason’s featuring albums released between 1953 and 1960 which feature trumpeter Bobby Hackett. This collection features more than 100 songs – so stream away!
Here’s a link to stream the Jackie Gleason Sessions:
III. Compact Discs Recommendations:
Jackie Wilson 7 Classic Albums Plus Bonus Singles And Live Tracks:
This multi disc collection includes seven albums originally released between 1958 and 1961 including his first three albums: He’s So Fine, So Much & Lonely Teardrops. Also included are the albums Jackie Sings the Blues and A Woman, A Lover, A Friend both released in 1960 and 1961’s You Ain’t Heard Nothin Yet and By Special Request. Since that is seven albums worth of material to listen to and not everyone has that much free time, I’ll note that the AllMusic site gives the highest ratings to the albums Lonely Teardrops and Jackie Sings The Blues.
Here’s a link to request the Jackie Wilson 7 Classic Albums set via StarCat: https://goo.gl/kQwm8r
The Very Best of Solomon Burke:
This album, unlike the mega Jackie Wilson set, features one single-album of music; sixteen of Solomon’s best songs including: Just Out Of My Reach, Cry To Me, Everybody Needs Somebody To Love and Tonight’s The Night.
Here’s a link to request the Very Best of Solomon Burke CD via StarCat: https://goo.gl/X0MA3U
Little Willie John:
Little Willie John: All 15 Of His chart Hits From 1953 To 1962:
This album is a solid greatest hits collection featuring, as the title says, all of Little Willie John’s hits from the fifties and early sixties. The album includes the songs: All Around The World, Need your Love So Bad, Cottage For Sale, Fever and more.
Here’s a link to request the Little Willie John CD via StarCat: https://goo.gl/pCKUk9
Wild Card CD & DVD Picks Of The Week:
This collection of silent American films is a great find! The set includes early movies, previously unavailable on video, by John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock and other early American cinematic favorites. The films and were found in a New Zealand archive where they had been carefully stored for over a century – and they are a great find because they are the only known versions of these videos.
The 3-1/4 hour DVD set contains the following short films and film shorts:
John Ford’s Upstream (1927) and a preview for his lost feature Strong Boy (1929)
The White Shadow (1924), 3 reels from the first surviving feature credited to Alfred Hitchcock, the assistant director, art director, writer, and editor
Won in a Cupboard (1914), the first surviving film directed by and starring Mabel Normand
Lyman H. Howe’s Famous Ride on a Runaway Train (1921), reunited with its sound-effects disc for the first time in decades
Stetson’s Birth of a Hat (ca. 1920)
The Love Charm (1928), a South Seas romance filmed in two-color Technicolor by Ray Rennahan and written by Duncan Renaldo (the “Cisco Kid”)
Andy’s Stump Speech (1924), directed by Norman Taurog, following funny-paper favorite Andy Gump (played by Joe Murphy) on the campaign trail
The cartoon Happy-Go-Luckies (1923), 5 newsreel stories, and an episode from Dolly of the Dailies (1914) in which the unstoppable newspaperwoman saves the day and gets the scoop.
Here’s a link to request the Lost and Found DVD set via StarCat:
IV: Videos Of This Weeks’ Artists/Groups:
That’s Why (I Love You So) – from The Ed Sullivan Show
Lonely Teardrops – from an unnamed TV show:
Cry To Me – studio recording with a montage of photos of Burke from the era and, at the end of the clip, much later in his career
A Picture of You – another studio recording with featuring only a single, vintage, lonely photo of Solomon Burke – but it is great song!
Little Willie John:
Two studio recordings featuring vintage photos of John:
Need Your Love So Bad
V. Wild Card Print Book Recommendation Of The Week:
Fever: Little Willie John, A Fast Life, Mysterious Death and the Birth of Soul by Susan Whitall with a forward by Stevie Wonder
This week I’m not going to divert from the Soul Music category and go off on a different music path, instead, I’m going to recommend Little Willie John’s biography titled:
Here’s a solid description of the book provided by the Publisher – Titan Books:
Little Willie John lived for a fleeting 30 years, but his dynamic and daring sound left an indelible mark on the history of music. His deep blues, rollicking rock ‘n’ roll and swinging ballads inspired a generation of musicians, forming the basis for what we now know as soul music.
Born in Arkansas in 1937, William Edward John found his voice in the church halls, rec centers and nightclubs of Detroit, a fertile proving ground that produced the likes of Levi Stubbs and the Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. One voice rose above the rest in those formative years of the 1950s, and Little Willie John went on to have 15 hit singles in the American rhythm & blues chart, with considerable cross-over success in pop. Some of his songs might be best known by their cover versions (“Fever” by Peggy Lee, “Need Your Love So Bad” by Fleetwood Mac and “Leave My Kitten Alone” by The Beatles) but Little Willie John’s original recording of these and other songs are widely considered to be definitive, and it is this sound that is credited with ushering in a new age in American music as the 1950s turned into the 60s and rock ‘n’ roll took its place in popular culture.
The soaring heights of Little Willie John’s career are matched only by the tragic events of his death, cutting short a life so full of promise. Charged with a violent crime in the late 1960s, an abbreviated trial saw Willie convicted and incarcerated in Walla Walla Washington, where he died under mysterious circumstances in 1968.
In this, the first official biography of one of the most important figures in rhythm & blues history, author Susan Whitall, with the help of Little Willie John’s eldest son Kevin John, has interviewed some of the biggest names in the music industry and delved into the personal archive of the John family to produce an unprecedented account of the man who invented soul music.
And here’s a link to request Little Willie John bio via StarCat:
VI. General References & Artist Specific References:
All Music Guide to Soul: The Definitive Guide To R&B And Soul. (Backbeat Books. Fresno. 2003.)
The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits by Joel Whitburn (Billboard Books. New York. 2009.)
Clyde McPhatter Biography by Bruce Eder
Sixties Rock: A Listener’s Guide by Robert Santelli (Contemporary Books. Chicago. 1985.)
Recommended Artists Specific References:
Jackie Wilson Biography by Richie Unterberger
JACKIE WILSON, ROCK SINGER; RECORDS INCLUDED ‘TEARDROPS’ Published: January 23, 1984. New York Times.
Little Willie John Biography by John Floyd
Solomon Burke Biography by Richie Unterberger
Solomon Burke, Influential Soul Singer, Dies at 70 By BEN SISARIO. OCT. 11, 2010. New York Times.
Have a great day!
P.S. If you have any questions about how to download or stream free music through the Freegal Music service to a desktop or laptop computer or how to download and use the Freegal Music app let us know! Drop by the library or give us a call at: 607-936-3713
*You must have a library card at a Southern Tier Library System member library to enjoy the Freegal Music Service. Your card can be from any library in the system, and the system includes all public libraries in Steuben, Chemung, Yates, Schuyler and Allegheny Counties and including our own Southeast Steuben Count Library in Corning, New York. Library cards are free and at our library you can obtain one by visiting the Circulation Desk and presenting staff with a form of ID that features both your name and your current address.