Jackie Wilson Part Three
I been looking forward to doing Jackie Wilson Part Three, ever since I completed Part Two. I have an album of Jackie Wilson, that not even I have heard from iTunes yet, but I will, just as soon I complete this blog called, Jackie Wilson Part Three, Let me know how you think of it.
Wilson’s personal life was laced with tragedy. In 1960 in New Orleans, he was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer when fans tried to climb on stage. He assaulted a policeman who had shoved one of the fans. Wilson had a reputation for being short-tempered. Patti LaBelle accused Wilson of sexually assaulting her at a theater in Brooklyn.
On February 15, 1961, in Manhattan, Wilson was injured in a shooting. Media reports stated the real story behind this incident is that one of his girlfriends, Juanita Jones, shot and wounded him in a jealous rage when he returned to his Manhattan apartment with another woman, fashion model Harlean Harris, an ex-girlfriend of Sam Cooke. Wilson’s management supposedly concocted a story to protect Wilson’s reputation; that Jones was an obsessed fan who had threatened to shoot herself, and that Wilson’s intervention resulted in him being shot. Wilson was shot in the stomach: The bullet resulted in the loss of a kidney, and lodged too close to his spine to be operated on. In early 1975, during an interview with author Arnold Shaw, Wilson maintained it actually was a zealous fan whom he did not know that shot him. “We also had some trouble in 1961. That was when some crazy chick took a shot at me and nearly put me away for good…” The story of the zealous fan was accepted, and no charges were brought against Jones.
A month and a half later after the shooting incident, Jackie Wilson was discharged from the hospital. At the time Wilson had declared annual earnings of $263,000, while the average salary a man earned then was just $5,000 a year. But he discovered that, despite being at the peak of success, he was broke. Around this time the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) seized Wilson’s Detroit family home. Tarnopol and his accountants were supposed to take care of such matters. Wilson made arrangements with the IRS to make restitution on the unpaid taxes; he also re-purchased the family home at auction. Nat Tarnopol had taken advantage of Wilson’s naïveté, mismanaging his money since becoming his manager. Tarnopol also had power-of-attorney over Wilson’s finances, giving him complete control over Wilson’s money. Wilson was a rather trusting soul, trusting people he should not have like Tarnopol and some of his other managers.
Tarnopol and 18 other Brunswick executives were indicted on federal charges of mail fraud and tax evasion stemming from bribery and payola scandals in 1975. Also in the indictment was the charge that Tarnopol owed at least $1 million in royalties to Wilson. In 1976 Tarnopol and the others were found guilty; an appeals court overturned their conviction 18 months later. Although the conviction was overturned, judges went into detail, outlining that Tarnopol and Brunswick Records did defraud their artists of royalties, and that they were satisfied that there was sufficient evidence for Wilson to file a lawsuit. However, a trial to sue Tarnopol for royalties never took place, as Wilson lay in a nursing home semi-comatose. Tarnopol never paid Wilson monies he had coming to him, and Wilson died owing a large sum to the IRS and Brunswick Records.
One of the highlights of the federal tax fraud trial of Tarnopol and the other Brunswick executives came when Eugene Record of the Chi-Lites testified that he had been assaulted during a contract negotiation at Brunswick’s New York office. Record stated that he asked Tarnopol for advanced money on a recording in 1972 when an associate of Tarnopol’s, whom Record identified as Johnny Roberts, asked Tarnopol “should I twist his nose off?” Before any answer came, Record said Roberts “suddenly began to twist my nose, and when I pushed his arm away he punched me in the face, knocking my glasses off.” A similar story concerns Wilson, who reportedly was hung out of Tarnopol’s office window by his feet when Wilson asked about money, according to Chuck Barksdale of The Dells.
In March 1967, Wilson and friend/drummer Jimmy Smith were arrested in South Carolina on “morals charges”; the two were entertaining two 24-year-old white women in their motel room.
Freda Hood, Wilson’s first wife, with whom he had four children, divorced him in 1965 after 14 years of marriage as she was frustrated with his notorious womanizing. Although the divorce was amicable, Freda regretted her decision. His 16-year-old son, Jackie Jr, was shot and killed on a neighbor’s porch near their Detroit home in 1970. The death of Jackie Jr. devastated Wilson. He sank into a period of depression, and for the next couple of years remained mostly a recluse. More tragedy hit when two of Wilson’s daughters died at a young age. His daughter Sandra died in 1977 at the age of 24 of an apparent heart attack; another daughter, Jacqueline Wilson, was killed in 1988 in a drug-related incident in Highland Park, Michigan.
Wilson’s second marriage was to model Harlean Harris in 1967 with whom he had three children, but they too separated, in 1970. Wilson later met and lived with Lynn Guidry, a woman who had two children with him. There was also a close friend of Jackies, Joyce McRae, who was the only one who tried to help Jackie, and she tried to on the role of Wilson’s caregiver while he was in the nursing home. He was with Guidry, who was under the impression that she was his legal wife, until his heart attack in 1975. However, as he and Harris never officially divorced, Harris took on the role of Wilson’s caregiver for the singer’s remaining nine years.
Wilson converted to Judaism as an adult.