Found Performance: Land of 1000 Dances by Wilson Pickett

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“Land of 1000 Dances” or “Land Of A Thousand Dances” was written by Chris Kenner in 1962. The first hit version was by Cannibal & the Headhunters in ’65. The single reached #30 on the Billboard Hot 100. The first time I heard the song was listening to KPUG-Bellingham in the mid-sixties. It was the latest hit by Wilson Pickett.

The late Wilson Pickett recorded his cover of “1000 Dances” at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. “Wicked Pickett” was backed by the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and the Memphis Horns. That single, released in 1966, became Pickett’s biggest hit. It went all the way to #1 on the Billboard Rhythm & Blues (soul) chart, and it peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. It rose to #22 on charts in the UK. In 1989, prolific rock ‘n’ roll music critic Dave Marsh put Pickett’s version of “Land Of 1000 Dances” at #152 on his list of The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made.

This video captured Pickett during a high octane live concert before his obviously awe struck and captivated fans. “Wicked” sure knew how to belt out a soul song. He put the “S” in screamer. Pickett will go down in the history books for his many memorable radio hits: “The Midnight Hour,” “Mustang Sally,” “634-5789,” “Funky Broadway,” “I Found a Love,” his take on “Hey Jude,” and several others.

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Author: Steven Smith

Presently editor and historical writer with Puget Sound Media in Seattle. Former radio broadcaster and radio station owner, 1970-1999. Journalism and speech communications degrees. I enjoy researching articles and online reporting that allows me to meld together words, audio and video. P.S. I appreciate and encourage reader comments and opinions.

30 thoughts on “Found Performance: Land of 1000 Dances by Wilson Pickett

  1. Wilson Pickett!…His album cover, with him wearing that purple “poofy ” shirt, was so definitive of his powerful, even sexy visage…and I preferred him over James Brown….My hero, Jimi Hendrix, can be seen in an old photo from 1966, backing Wilson onstage, at a semi-private “record debut” hosted by Atlantic Records…I think Percy Sledge was being promoted at that gathering…Wow…soul music was so hot during this time frame…even the Beatles listened to it…and I can remember, that on one of their many recordings, George makes the remark, “Pick it, Wilson!” before taking a solo…Chris Kenner wrote this?…I know he himself had a couple of hits around that time…Thanks for this interesting post!

  2. Great concert footage, Steve. I always liked Wilson’s choice of material. I remember Chris Kenner’s 1963 original version of a “1000 Dances” as a (the) hit … even though it only reached #77 nationally, but they played the heck out of it on radio where I was at the time. It was the follow up to Kenner’s 1961 (#2 national hit) “I Like It Like That”.
    For those who are interested here’s a link to the songwriters version:

    https://youtu.be/QDxfCywWgaE

    I find it interesting that this song made the national charts three different times, by three different recording artists over a period of 3 years.

    1. Jay…I checked it out. Pretty sure I never heard that version. But you were in radio several years before me, so I am not surprised you know it. It is missing the nah, nah, nah isn’t it?

    1. 634-5789 was the number she gave Wilson Pickett, but her real number was Beachwood 4-5789. It has happened to many of us guys. I tried to call a girl at 555-1212, and then I got wise.

      1. I used to call this chick at COlumbia 8900 all the time but she’d barely gave me the time of day. She was a real nit-picker too – every time Buffalo Bob hollered, “Say kids, what time is it?”, she’d say in her sultry manner, “It’s Howdy Doody time and ten seconds, Bozo! You’re late again!”

        Then there’d be a bunch of beeps from a squeeze horn, a coded message – “The name’s Clarabelle. Bozo’s over on Channel 9!”

            1. I mowed the lawns before I got rich in radio. I initially did lawns as a chick magnet, but they still wouldn’t give me their phone numbers unless I had my Toro whirlybird along.

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