In the Midnight Hour
"In the Midnight Hour" is a song originally performed by Wilson Pickett in 1965 and released on the 1965 album of the same name, also appearing on the 1966 album The Exciting Wilson Pickett. It was composed by Pickett and Steve Cropper at the historic Lorraine Motel in Memphis where Martin Luther King, Jr. would later be murdered in April 1968. Pickett's first hit on Atlantic Records, it reached #1 on the R&B charts and peaked at #21 on the pop charts.
The song has become a 1960s soul standard, and placed at #134 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time, Wilson Pickett's first of two entries on the list (the other being "Mustang Sally" at #434). It is also one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, Pickett's only such entry. The song is currently ranked as the 89th greatest song of all time, as well as the seventh best song of 1965, by Acclaimed Music.
The track has been covered by many artists, including Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, The Doors and Van Morrison's Them band at the Whisky a Go Go (1966), Johnny Rivers who also recorded it live at the Whisky a Go Go in 1966, the Grateful Dead (who often played it as a closer to their sets in 1966 and 1967), Jefferson Airplane used to play a hard rocking version featuring Marty Balin on lead vocals, Chris Farlowe, The Mirettes, The Rascals, Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, the Chocolate Watch Band, Razzy Bailey, Roxy Music, Jackie Wilson, The Jam, Johnny Thunders, The Chambers Brothers, Roger Troutman, The Toasters, Buddy Guy, The Rock Bottom Remainders, The Commitments, Cross Country, Echo & the Bunnymen, Samantha Sang, George Faith, B. B. King, Johnny Rivers and The Silvertones.
In early 1967, just a few months after Pickett's version was a hit, the song became a local #1 hit in the Detroit area for local garage rock band The Wanted (unrelated to the currently popular British-Irish pop band The Wanted). The record was picked up for national release by A&M Records but failed to dent the Billboard Hot 100.
Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian recorded a cover of "In the Midnight Hour" with Steve Cropper, the original co-songwriter of this song. Cropper played guitar on and produced the Sebastian version on The Memphis Album. Sebastian and Cropper toured together in Australia in 2008 and there is a DVD/CD The Memphis Tour on which "In the Midnight Hour" is tracklisted.
In popular culture 
The song plays during a mind-movie flashback (titled “Viet Cong Lookout”) of an experience at a bar during the Vietnam War that the character Johnny Marinville (Tom Skerritt) has in Stephen King’s film Desperation.
The song is sampled in the Super NES game EarthBound, as one of the songs played by the in-universe band Runaway Five, with the lyrics changed to 'Midnight Cosworth' due to the game's Midnight Blue Ford Sierra Cosworth.
The song is used in the sequel Fright Night Part II as well as its trailer.
The song is also played in the 2010 movie Megamind.
- Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 51 - The Soul Reformation: Phase three, soul music at the summit. [Part 7] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 461.
- "Acclaimed Music Top 3000 songs". 27 May 2009.
- The Whiskey a Go Go 1971
- Undercover Music article Retrieved 30 May 2009
- Sun Herald News article Retrieved 30 May 2009
"I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" by The Four Tops
|Billboard Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles number-one single
(by Wilson Pickett)
August 7, 1965
"Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" Part 1 by James Brown