Al Jolson Home Page|On Stage|Memorializers|Jackie Wilson
Jackie Wilson
Click to hear Jackie Wilson's
version of "Sonny Boy"
Jackie Wilson was a product of Detroit, being born there on June 9, 1934, and attending Highland Park H.S. Although first headed to the boxing ring, his mother turned him towards other goals, ultimately a singing career. At 18, he was tapped by Billy Ward to replace his recently departed lead singer of Billy Ward and The Dominoes. At this time Ward realized Jackie's range, vocal gymnastics, and showmanship -- not to mention the ability to simply belt out a song -- were such that no one could match Jackie Wilson. At 23 (1957) Jackie left Ward's tutelage, went solo and signed with the Brunswick label. His career witnessed momentum when he began performing songs co-written by fellow Detroiter Berry Gordy, later the founder of Motown. These included "Reet Petite", "To Be Loved" and "Lonely Teardrops." Brunswick was never able to settle on a particular musical style for Wilson. He often crossed between R&B and pop. Jackie favored the latter where he could use his truly astonishing range to good effect. Under the orchestral arrangements of Brunswick's Dick Jacobs, Jackie's recordings were frequently backed by an abundance of brass and string instrumentation. Jackie Wilson was still appearing on the charts -- albeit low on the lists -- when at 41 he suffered a stroke and collapsed onstage in Cherry Hill, NJ, on September 29, 1975. On this night he was performing in a Dick Clark's Traveling Oldies Revue. Ironically, at the time he was singing his signature song, "Lonely Teardrops." He lingered on for another eight-and-a-half years, supposedly totally comatose. Like many things in Jackie's life, this fact too is disputed. Some claim he was not in a coma, but rather alert, totally paralyzed and unable to react to any stimuli. Jackie Wilson died on January 21, 1984, in Mount Holly, NJ, at Burlington County Memorial Hospital. The official cause of death was listed as pneumonia. He further suffered the indignity of being buried in an unmarked grave in Detroit. This sad state of affairs was later corrected in 1987. Jackie was survived by his wife Harlean, sons Anthony, John and Thor and daughters Jacqueline, Denise, and LaShawn. Daughter Denise was subsequently killed in a drive-by shooting in 1987. In 1987 Jackie Wilson was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

In 1961, he released an album entitled "You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet," containing a dozen songs from the repetaoir of Al Jolson. On the original album sleeve, he wrote the following note:
To my way of thinking, the greatest entertainer of this or any other era is the late Al Jolson. Even as a child, I can remember the thrill I always experienced whenever I heard him sing. I guess I have just about every recording he's ever made, and I rarely missed listening to him on radio. It's truly unfortunate that television couldn't have benefitted by his talents. Regrettably, I've never had the privilege of seeing him perform in person. But even to this day, I am still one of his most avid fans.
During the three years I've been making records, I've had the ambition to do an album of songs which, to me, represent the great Jolson heritage. I never thought that this ambition would take shape this soon, but thanks to my manager, Nat Tarnopol, without whose faith and foresight I might never be writing this now, my dream has finally become a reality.
With the assistance of conductor-arranger Dick Jacobs, we set about selecting the songs to be recorded. The problem wasn't so much the choice of only twelve songs, but rather which of the many hundreds of songs that are so closely identified with Jolson should be included. Once this decision was made, the rest was comparatively easy, the result is YOU AIN'T HEARD NOTHIN' YET!
In no way is this album am attempt to imitate Jolson's style, nor is it an attempt to duplicate his incomparable way with a song. This is simply my humble tribute to the one man I admire most in this business. With the sincere hope that my contribution will in some way help keep the heritage of Al Jolson alive thorough the great songs he left behind, let me here and now extend my deep appreciation to all those involved in making this album a proud moment for me. I hope you like it!
Gratefully,
Jackie Wilson
Jackie Wilson - You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet To the left, you can see the cover of the original 1961 version of Wilson's LP. To the right, a re-release, entitled "Nowstalgia," from about ten years later. On it, he included Toot, Toot, Tootsie; Sonny Boy; California, Here I Come; Keep Smiling At Trouble; You Made Me Love You; My Yiddishe Momme; Swanee; April Showers; Anniversary Song; Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody; For Me And My Gal; and In Our House. Clicking either album image will take you to Amazon.com, where you can purchase a CD re-issue of the album. But, if you are really curious, you can click the link below to here Jackie Wilson sing
My Yiddishe Momme
Wilson's album re-release

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This listing and material Copyright © 1995-2009 Marc I. Leavey, M.D. Baltimore, Maryland
Updated 19 Oct 02
Updated 06 Apr 08
Updated 13 Dec 09