Al Wilson (singer)

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Al Wilson
Background information
Birth nameAllen LaMar Wilson
Born(1939-06-19)June 19, 1939
Meridian, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedApril 21, 2008(2008-04-21) (aged 68)
Fontana, California, U.S.
GenresR&B, soul
Years active1966–2008
LabelsRocky Road, Playboy, RCA, Wilsong

Allen LaMar Wilson (June 19, 1939 – April 21, 2008)[1] was an American soul singer known for the million-selling #1 hit, "Show and Tell". He is also remembered for his Northern soul anthem, "The Snake".


Wilson was born in Meridian, Mississippi.[1] He showed little interest in education but performed in school plays, sang in talent shows and won first prize in a local art contest.

He began his career at the age of twelve leading his own spiritual quartet and singing in the church choir, and performing covers of country and western hits. While he was in high school, Wilson and his family relocated to San Bernardino, California,[2] where he worked three jobs as a mail carrier, a janitor, and an office clerk, in addition to teaching himself to play drums. After graduation he spent four years touring with Johnny Harris and the Statesmen, before joining the U.S. Navy, and singing with an enlisted men's chorus.[1] He also developed his stand-up comedy routine in case he didn't succeed as a singer.

After a two-year military stint, Wilson settled in Los Angeles, touring the local nightclub circuit before joining the R&B vocal group the Jewels; from there he landed with the Rollers, followed by a stint with the instrumental combo the Souls. In 1966, Wilson signed with manager Marc Gordon, who quickly sought his client an a cappella audition for Johnny Rivers. Wilson was signed to the Soul City imprint and Rivers produced the sessions that yielded the 1968 U.S. R&B hit single "The Snake" (U.S. Pop #27), which became popular on the Northern Soul circuit in the United Kingdom. It also provided Wilson with his only UK Singles Chart hit, reaching #41 in 1975. The minor hit "Do What You Gotta Do" appeared that same year. In 1969, Wilson charted with his cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Lodi" (U.S. #67), and Rivers' own "Poor Side Of Town" (U.S. #75).

Wilson disappeared from the music industry until 1973, when he released his major hit, "Show And Tell", written and produced by Jerry Fuller, the man behind the run of hit singles by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap in the late 1960s. Topping the Hot 100, the song on the Rocky Road label, owned by his manager, Marc Gordon, also reached #10 in the Billboard R&B chart. The resulting album's success was matched by the single, which sold well over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in December 1973.[3]

"The La La Peace Song", released in 1974, was another success, although O. C. Smith recorded and released a version simultaneously, causing sales of Wilson's version to suffer as a result. Two years later in 1976, Wilson recorded "I've Got a Feeling, We'll Be Seeing Each Other Again" for Playboy Records, produced by his manager, Marc Gordon. Although it reached #3 on the R&B chart, Wilson tried to leave Playboy Records but was unable to get a release from his recording contract. Two years later, the label folded. With 1979's "Count the Days" recorded in Philadelphia for Roadshow Records, Wilson scored his final chart hit and he spent the next two decades touring clubs and lounges. In 2001, he re-recorded his hits for the album Spice of Life.

In March 2007, many of his original master tapes were lost to a fire that swept through his home garage which he had converted into a recording studio.[4][5]

Wilson's recording of "The Snake" was featured in a Lambrini advert in the UK,[6] as well as in a Pennsylvania Rally by President Donald Trump.[7]


Wilson died on April 21, 2008, of kidney failure, in Fontana, California, at the age of 68.[1] He was buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Riverside, California.


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions[8] Record label
1968 Searching for the Dolphins Soul City
1973 Weighing In Rocky Road
Show and Tell 70 9
1974 La La Peace Song 171 35
1976 I've Got a Feeling 185 43 Playboy
1979 Count the Days Roadshow
"—" denotes the album failed to chart

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions Record label
2001 Spice of Life Classic World
2004 Show & Tell: The Best of Al Wilson Fuel 2000
"—" denotes the album failed to chart


Year Single Chart positions[9]
UK[10] AUS[11]
1967 "Who Could Be Lovin' You"
"Do What You Gotta Do" 39 38
1968 "The Snake" 27 32
1969 "Poor Side of Town" 75
"I Stand Accused"
"Lodi" 67
1970 "Mississippi Woman"
"Bachelor Man"
1971 "I Hear You Knocking"
"Falling (In Love with You)"
1972 "Heavy Church"
"Born on the Bayou"
1973 "Show and Tell" 1 10 3 59[A] 57
1974 "Touch and Go" 57 23 43
"La La Peace Song" 30 19
"I Won't Last a Day Without You"/"Let Me Be the One" (medley) 70 18 39
1975 "The Snake" 41
1976 "I've Got a Feeling (We'll Be Seeing Each Other Again)" 29 3 38
"Baby I Want Your Body" 28
"You Did It for Me"
1979 "Count the Days" 84
"—" denotes the single failed to chart


  1. ^ Chart position is from the official UK "Breakers List".


  1. ^ a b c d "The Dead Rock Stars Club 2008 January to June". Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  2. ^ Dahl, B. "Liner Notes" Show & Tell: the best of Al Wilson, Fuel 2000 Records, 2004
  3. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 339. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  4. ^ "'Show and Tell' soul singer Al Wilson, of San Bernardino, dies at 68". April 21, 2008. Archived from the original on July 7, 2009.
  5. ^ Tribute to Al Wilson. Accessed 24 April 2008. Archived May 28, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Lambrini – Just Wanna Dance". 31 October 2007. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Donald Trump reads sinister poem about snake biting its host - and dedicates it to anti-immigration police". 30 April 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-04-30. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Al Wilson US albums chart history". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-02-23.
  9. ^ "Al Wilson US singles chart history". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-02-23.
  10. ^ "Al Wilson Official Charts Company". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2011-02-23.
  11. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 340. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.

External links[edit]