Wilson Pickett, the impassioned, raw-voiced soul singer who brought a hard-edged, sensuous urgency to a string of rhythm-and-blues hits of the 1960s, died Thursday of a heart attack at Reston, Va., Hospital Center. He had lived in Ashburn, Va., since 1999. He was 64.
Thanks to his hits “Mustang Sally” and “In the Midnight Hour,” Wicked Pickett – not a more obvious legend like James Brown or the Four Tops – was the one who kicked off my love of R&B and funk music. Coincidentally, his offscreen presence is the “MacGuffin” of my favourite Irish movie, The Commitments, about the birth, life, and death of an R&B organized by the protagonist in an attempt to impress Pickett.