In the Midnight Hour: The Life & Soul of Wilson Pickett

Tony Fletcher. Oxford Univ, $27.95 (328p) ISBN 978-0-19-025294-6
Drawing on interviews with brilliant soul singer Wilson Pickett’s friends and family, as well as several of the studio musicians who worked with him, Fletcher (All Hopped Up and Ready to Go) paints a colorful portrait of Pickett’s life and music. He vividly narrates the singer’s life: poverty in Birmingham, Ala.; moving to Detroit, where his father had relocated for work; Pickett’s early fascination with gospel music; his rise to success with the Stax and Fame studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala.; his decline after he moved to RCA; and the dissolution of his marriage after he assaulted his wife, Dovie. Fletcher creates rich scenes of Pickett’s recording life, especially his work with Stax guitarist Steve Cropper and lyricist Don Covay, as well as his close relationship with Fame founder Rick Hall. Fletcher recreates the night when Pickett recorded “Mustang Sally” at Fame. Keyboardist Spooner Oldham recalls of the take that “everyone knew that was the one, the magic one, and we could never improve upon it.” But the tape had rattled off the spool, and Hall and engineer Tom Dowd had to spend the night meticulously splicing it back together. Fletcher’s vibrant book brings Pickett and his music to glorious life. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 08/22/2016
Release date: 01/01/2017
Ebook - 978-0-19-025296-0
Hardcover - 978-0-19-025295-3
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