LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Wilson Pickett was remembered by friends and family Saturday as a singer who fell somewhere between a poet and a preacher, laying the groundwork for artists after him.
"One way or another, Wilson was going to move you with his music," the Rev. Steve Owens told about 800 people gathered to mourn the singer of such hits as "In the Midnight Hour" and "Mustang Sally."
Pickett, known for his raspy voice and passionate delivery, changed the course of music and paved the way for such artists as Diddy, Will Smith and Eminem, singer Little Richard told the crowd at Canaan Christian Church.
"He didn't just belong to us — he belonged to the world," said Pickett's brother, Maxwell.
The Alabama-born Pickett got his start singing gospel music in church. After moving to Detroit as a teen, he joined the Falcons, which scored the hit "I Found a Love" with Pickett as lead singer in 1962.
He went solo in the early 1960s and rose to stardom with hits recorded at Stax Records in Memphis, Tenn.
In 1965, he linked with soul producer Jerry Wexler at Stax Records and recorded "In the Midnight Hour." Other memorable hits include "634-5789" and "Funky Broadway."
Pickett died Jan. 19 after a heart attack in a Virginia hospital. He was 64.
Survivors include a brother and five sisters who live in Louisville. He was to be buried next to his mother.