Detroit: 1959. unbound. 3 pages, 11 x 8.5 inches, Detroit, January 1959 -- an important songwriter-publishing contract assigning the song titled "You Better Know It." This contract is between songwriters Jackie Wilson, Norm Henry, and The Pearl Music Corporation, 3947 Woodward Avenue, Detroit Michigan, whereby the songwriters agree to certain percentages offered by the publisher. Within weeks of signing this contract, "You Better Know It" was recorded by Wilson on Brunswick Records and would top the charts at No. 1, staying on the Hot Billboard 100 list for a staggering 37 weeks. Our research shows that Pearl Music was actually owned by Jackie Wilson, making him one of the earliest Black performers of the Rock-n-Roll era to self write and publish and then record a No. 1 record. Note: in 1957 an unknown struggling songwriter -- car plant worker named Berry Gordy -- submitted a song to Jackie Wilson titled "Reet Petite," published by Pearl Music Corp, reaching No. 67 on the charts. Gordy's next song written for Wilson and assigned to Pearl Music was titled "Lonely Teardrops." Both had previously met in the Detroit housing projects where they grew up and had kept a cordial friendship even after Jackie had entered music. The song became a No. 1 record that summer, but royalty differences prevented Gordy from further submitting songs to his friend. This disagreement led Gordy to borrow $800.00 from his family in order to start The Tamia-Motown record labels. Forbes magazine lists Berry Gordy as the first black billionaire. This appears to be the earliest Jackie Wilson songwriting contract sold. Good signature; one horizontal fold and in very good condition.
Considered the most important singer in the transition of rhythm and blues into soul music. Nicknamed "Mr. Entertainment" by Dick Clark, Wilson had dozens of hit records from the late 1950s into the early 1970s. At the age of 39, he suffered a massive heart attack while performing on stage and though revived, due to a lack of oxygen to his brain, he remained in a comatose, vegetative state until his death.