July 6: Jackie Wilson recorded (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher in 1967
“(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” was recorded on July 6, 1967 at Columbia’s studios inChicago. Produced by Carl Davis, the session – arranged by Sonny Sanders – featured bassist James Jamerson, drummer Richard “Pistol” Allen, guitarist Robert White, and keyboardist Johnny Griffith; these four musicians were all members of the Motown Recordshouse band The Funk Brothers who often moonlighted on sessions for Davis to augment the meager wages paid by Motown. According to Carl Davis, the Funk Brothers “used to come over on the weekends from Detroit. They’d load up in the van and come over to Chicago, and I would pay ‘em double scale, and I’d pay ‘em in cash.” Similarly two of Motown’s house session singers The Andantes, Jackie Hicks and Marlene Barrow, along with Pat Lewis (who was filling in for Andante Louvain Demps), performed on the session for “Higher and Higher”.
I first became aware of this gem of a song when it was re-released in 1987, accompanied with a new video.
Jackie Wilson – Higher and Higher (official 1987 video):
Davis brought the track to New York City for Wilson to add his vocal; Davis recalls Wilson originally sang the song “like a soul ballad. I said that’s totally wrong. You have to jump and go with the percussion…if he didn’t want to sing it that way, I would put my voice on the record and sell millions”. After hearing Davis’ advisement Wilson cut the lead vocal for “…Higher and Higher” in a single take.
Released in August 1967, “Higher and Higher” reached #1 R&B and in November peaked on the Pop charts at #6.
In the UK Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” would be a hit in 1969 (#11), 1975 (#25),and 1987 (#15).
Columbia Records released a Higher and Higher album in November 1967: its chart peak was #163 (#28 R&B).
The track was ranked #246 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.
Higher and Higher (TV performance, I’m guessing the 70’s sometimes…with Lonely Teardrop) :