September 25, 1975

On this day in 1975 Jackie Wilson was performing as part of Dick Clark’s Good Ole Rock ‘N Roll Revue in New Jersey, and while singing “My heart is crying” from his signature song, “Lonely Teardrops” Wilson had a heart attack on stage, fell and hit his head. Paramedics saved his life, but because of the time lapse while trying to revive Wilson, he ended up in a coma. Although he recovered slightly, Wilson never walked nor spoke again and he spent the rest of his life in a semi-comatose state. he died on January 21, 1984.

Wilson’s coma and death were not the only problems he faced in his troubled life. He fought drug addiction, and his womanizing led to an angry lover shooting him in 1961. During the height of his career, he had to play to segregated audiences in the South, and at one point New Orleans police arrested and beat him after they disapproved of one performance. In 1967, he was arrested on morals charges in South Carolina for being in a motel room with a white woman. In 1970, his 16-year-old son was killed by a neighbor during an argument. He had a thief for a manager his entire career, Wilson was left penniless and with tax debts.

In the end, Wilson was buried in an unmarked grave in Detroit.

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