Wilson, (Jack Leroy) Jackie(1934–84) vocalist; born in Detroit, Mich. A rhythm-and-blues singer who performed with acrobatic showmanship, he began with a local gospel group, the Ever Ready Singers, after deciding against a career in boxing. In 1951, he joined Billy Ward's Dominoes, a doo-wop group, and two years later he replaced his idol, Clyde McPhatter, as the group's unbilled lead singer. He remained with the Dominoes until 1957, exerting a strong influence on Elvis Presley and other emerging rock 'n' roll stars, but still unknown to the general public. He recorded his first hit record "Reet Petite" in 1957, and until 1967, when he released his last hit, "Higher and Higher," he toured regularly and made frequent appearances on Dick Clark, Ed Sullivan, and other television shows. In 1975 he suffered severe brain damage as the result of a fall during a performance on a Dick Clark revival show in Camden, N.J., where he remained hospitalized until his death. He was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.