Better late than never, indeed.
Although he passed away in 1984, soul and pop music pioneer Jackie Wilson will finally receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next month.
The “Lonely Teardrops” crooner will be honored with the 2,672nd star on Hollywood Boulevard on Sept. 4.
Motown legend Smokey Robinson and Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. — who co-wrote Wilson’s biggest hits, including “Reet Petite” and “To Be Loved” — will be on hand to help unveil the star, alongside Wilson’s goddaughter, Grammy Award winner Jody Watley. His widow, Harlene Harris Wilson, will accept in her late husband’s honor.
A native of Detroit, born Jack Leroy Wilson, he replaced Clyde McPhatter as the lead singer of the doo-wop group Billy Ward and his Dominoes, before going solo, He scored more than two dozen top 40 singles, including “Baby Workout” and his best-known hit, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” which was used by Barack Obama as a campaign song.
After suffering a massive heart attack onstage in 1975, Wilson slipped into a coma — briefly recovering in 1976 but returning to a semi-comatose state — then finally dying of complications from pneumonia in 1984 at age 49.
One of the first African-American performers to cross over, Wilson — known as “Mr. Excitement” — became a staple on television shows such as “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “American Bandstand” and “Hullaballoo.”
Posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, he became a two-time Grammy Hall of Fame inductee.
Rolling Stone magazine ranks him number 26 on its list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, saying he “remains unmatched in the category of loosened-tie, high-energy rhythm & blues vocalists.”
In 1984, King of Pop Michael Jackson dedicated his Album of the Year Grammy Award for “Thriller” to Wilson.
Van Morrison name checked Wilson in his song “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile).” He was also referenced in The Commodores 1985 classic “Nightshift.” John Mellencamp shouted him out in his hit “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.,” which was a salute to ’60s rock & roll music.