BBC to broadcast "The Life & Times of Wilson Pickett"

Roger Daltrey, lead singer of The Who, tells the story of soul legend Wilson Pickett featuring  the first radio interview with his brother Max and his ex-partner Dovie Hall and fellow soul stars like Bobby Womack and Eddie Floyd amongst others who experienced the exceptional singing talent first hand. but also the wild side which earned him the nickname ‘The Wicked Pickett’. Pickett died in 2006, aged 64 but he left a legacy of classic hits like “Mustang Sally”, “The Land of 1,000 Dances”, and “In The Midnight Hour”.

Roger Daltrey, lead singer of The Who, tells the story of soul legend Wilson Pickett featuring  the first radio interview with his brother Max and his ex-partner Dovie Hall and fellow soul stars like Bobby Womack and Eddie Floyd amongst others who experienced the exceptional singing talent first hand. but also the wild side which earned him the nickname ‘The Wicked Pickett’. Pickett died in 2006, aged 64 but he left a legacy of classic hits like “Mustang Sally”, “The Land of 1,000 Dances”, and “In The Midnight Hour”. Despite the success, Roger and guests will describe the other side of the story with tales of failed relationships, fist fights and guns, drug and alcohol abuse, various brushes with the law resulting in a jail sentence.    

BBC Radio 2
Tx: 12th March 2012  (22:03-23:00)
Presenter: Roger Daltrey

Wilson Pickett was always determined to be a singing star and from an early age his brother Max describes how Wilson would always be getting into fights, alongside singing Gospel in church. After a move to Detroit, singer with the vocal group The Falcons, Willie Schofield tells the story of how he heard the young Wilson Pickett singing in the street, and how he then convinced the rest of The Falcons to let him join, giving the band a new sound and new success with Wilson’s own song “I Found The Love”, released in 1962.

Wilson then moved on to his solo career leaving the Falcons behind, and after a shaky start, the key people like guitarist and songwriter Steve Cropper relive the time Wilson Pickett turned up in their studio in Memphis to record what to become his signature song “In The Midnight Hour”. Max Pickett talks of the pride the family felt when they heard his brother’s record on the radio.

Producer Rick Hall from Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama explains how the classic “Mustang Sally” recording nearly ended in disaster after the tape spool spun off the reel and they had to meticulously edit all the tiny pieces of tape back together.

Wilson and brother max explain the story of the film “The Commitments” and how Wilson wasn’t actually in the film, “they lied like chickens” says Wilson, but how he later performed with the band.

Roger Daltrey is a fan of Pickett and we’ll hear how Wilson had a problem with the British R&B acts like the Rolling Stones and in particular Tom Jones, who had undoubtedly been influenced by Wilson and the soul singers of the time and seem them come over to America and steal his thunder.

We’ll also hear about the time Pickett threatened to shoot The Isley Brothers, how he got out a record deal by pointing a gun in the boss’s head and how he was partially blinded by a metal bar in the eye after a fight. Bobby Womack expresses his guilt for first introducing Wilson to cocaine, which along with alcohol saw him becoming more and more dependent on, as the hits dried up.

And one of his biggest hits was “Hey Jude” by the Beatles, and we’ll hear the background to the misunderstanding that caused one of the biggest mispronounced lyrics in recording history. Ringo of The Beatles also asked Wilson about what was actually “Soul” music?

Wilson’s last album “It’s Harder Now” saw the return of the old Pickett magic, and producer  Jon Tiven describes his method of recording the softer side of Wilson Pickett. A secretive man, the listeners get a glimpse of the man behind the public persona as he recovers from drugs and drink and puts his wild years behind him, and how even those close to him didn’t know he was dying. Little Richard spoke fondly of his friend at Wilson’s funeral, and those who loved him and were influenced by him sum up the “Wicked One’s” legacy.

Produced by Simon Hodge and Nick Low
A Demus Production for BBC Radio 2

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