Today in 1941, the birthday of Wilson Pickett, a legend of soul and R&B music… and one who had an engineer save one of his future hit songs from a very hungry tape machine.

Pickett was born in Alabama.

He moved to Detroit as a teenager, where he started singing and performing with gospel groups.

In the mid 1950s, he started singing with a secular group called the Falcons, before landing a solo recording contract in the 60s with Atlantic Records.

One of the top executives there, Jerry Wexler, wanted to showcase the power and enthusiasm in Pickett’s voice.

He and scheduled a session for the singer at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

The studio itself would become an icon as the home of the “Muscle Shoals sound.”

It’s where so many legendary soul and R&B performers – Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter and more – put some of their best loved songs on tape.

But at one of Pickett’s sessions, one of the tape machines almost ruined one of the singer’s best performances.

Pickett and the Muscle Shoals studio band had recorded a ferocious version of the Mack Rice song “Mustang Sally.”

They’d only done a few takes, but sometimes musicians just know when a take of a song is going to be the take.

So they all went upstairs to the control room to listen back to what they’d just recorded.

But as they rewound the tape, somehow a piece of the machine came off and the machine started cutting the reel into little bits.

Pickett was convinced the tape was ruined, and surely in an alternate universe “Mustang Sally” turned into the singer’s own personal “Revolution 9.”

But in this reality, engineer Tom Dowd gathered up all the bits of tape and told the musicians to take a break for a half hour.

When they returned, he had somehow taped all the fragments back together in the right order.

The recording of “Mustang Sally” was so good, nothing was going to stop it.

Today in 1970, the birthday of Queen Latifah, who’s not only known for her music but for her acting.

Her movie contracts typically include a clause that says Latifah’s character can’t die.

As she put it, if they kill her off, she can’t be in the sequel!

That’s why she’s the queen.

“Mustang Sally” at 45 (Interview) – Sir Mack Rice and Spooner Oldham Tell The Story (Rock Cellar)

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson & 9 Other Actors With Bizarre Contract Clauses (ScreenRant)

Ride on over to our Patreon page and back our show

Image via Wikicommons