On this day in music history: August 7, 1965 -…

On this day in music history: August 7, 1965 – “In The Midnight Hour” by Wilson Pickett hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart, also peaking at #21 on the Hot 100 on September 4, 1965. Written by Wilson Pickett and Steve Cropper, it is the first chart topping single for legendary soul singer from Pratville, AL. Having begun his recording career in 1959 as a member of The Falcons along future star Eddie Floyd (“Knock On Wood”) and songwriter Sir Mack Rice (“Mustang Sally”, “Respect Yourself”), Pickett begins recording as solo act shortly after the group have a hit with “I Found A Love”. Bouncing around to various labels including Correc-Tone and Cub Records, Pickett finally scores a big R&B hit with “It’s Too Late” (#7 R&B,#49 Pop) for Double L Records in 1963. Atlantic Records becomes interested in the singer, and buy him out of this contract with Double L in early 1964. Label exec Jerry Wexler initially has Wilson work with producer Bert Berns (“Twist And Shout”). But when the results don’t produce any hits, Wexler comes up with the idea of taking Pickett down to Memphis to work with the musicians at Stax Records.  Working with the core rhythm section of Booker T. & The MG’s members Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn and Al Jackson, the singer quickly develops a rapport with the musicians. Pickett and Cropper write “In The Midnight Hour” while hanging out at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. The track is recorded at Stax Studios on May 12, 1965. During the session, Wexler suggest the songs signature back beat to the band, showing them what he’s looking for by doing the then popular dance “the jerk”. After the musicians stop laughing at Wexler’s attempt at demonstrating the dance, they’ll realize he’s on to something, and begin playing the song with the emphasis on the two and the four. Released as a single in June of 1965, “In The Midnight Hour” is an instant smash. Widely recognized as an R&B classic, the song has been covered by many different artists, across numerous musical genres. “In The Midnight Hour” has been recorded by The Chambers Brothers, Johnny Rivers, James Taylor, Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, The Rascals, The Righteous Brothers, Mary Wells, The Jam, Razzy Bailey, Cross Country, and Samantha Sang to name a few. Wilson Pickett’s original version of “In The Midnight Hour” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.