Jack Leroy Wilson Jr. (June 9, 1934 – January 21, 1984) was an American soul singer and performer. A tenor with a four-octave range, Wilson was a prominent figure in the transition of rhythm and blues into soul. Wilson was considered a master showman and one of the most dynamic singers and performers in pop, R&B, and rock and roll history, earning the nickname “Mr. Excitement”.
Wilson gained initial fame as a member of the R&B vocal group Billy Ward and His Dominoes. He went solo in 1957 and scored over 50 chart singles spanning the genres of R&B, pop, soul, doo-wop and easy listening, including 16 R&B Top 10 hits, in which six R&B of the repertoire ranked as number ones. On the Billboard Hot 100, Wilson scored 14 top 20 pop hits, six of which reached the top 10.
Wilson was posthumously inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He is also inducted into the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. Two of Wilson’s recordings were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. He was honored with the Rhythm and Blues Foundation‘s Legacy Tribute Award in 2003. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Jackie Wilson No. 69 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and number 26 as one of the greatest singers of all time.
Jack Leroy Wilson Jr. was born on June 9, 1934, in Highland Park, Michigan, as the third and only surviving child of singer-songwriter Jack Leroy Wilson, Sr. (1903–1983) and Eliza Mae Wilson (1900–1975). Eliza Mae was born on the Billups-Whitfield Place in Lowndes County, Mississippi. Eliza Mae’s parents were Tom and Virginia Ransom. Wilson often visited his family in Columbusand was greatly influenced by the choir at Billups Chapel. Growing up in the suburban Detroit enclave of Highland Park, Wilson joined a gang called the Shakers and often got himself in trouble. Wilson’s alcoholic father was frequently absent and usually unemployed. In 1943, his parents separated shortly after Jackie’s ninth birthday.