Jackie Wilson died a terrible, slow death, dropping to
the stage floor mid-performance as a result of what
has been variously described as a heart attack or
stroke, and then surviving another eight years in a
state of living death, severely brain damaged. From
the time of his collapse, he was unable to speak or
walk, and he remained helpless in the hands of others.
Trapped in institutions labeled “care facilities” and
“nursing homes,” Jackie suffered neglect, abuse, or
both. Legal actions taken by his court-appointed
guardians cut off rehabilitative therapies whenever it
appeared he could recover.
A few who loved him, most notably Joyce Moore, then known as Joyce McRae, struggled and sacrificed to help him. These few were defeated by a coalition with the substantial financial resources needed to make use of New Jersey courts to undermine Jackie’s medical care and general well being. They established Harlean Harris as Jackie’s “wife” and ultimately his widow. They eventually barred Joyce McRae and Jackie’s real wife from even visiting him. And, of course, they took control of Jackie’s estate.
This blog. So far I have concentrated this blog mostly on positive topics related to Jackie Wilson: his journey to stardom, his relationships with other artists, the incredible recordings he left behind, and his legendary status as a live performer.
As the months have passed since I began the blog last summer, I have felt with increasing conviction that many people now want Jackie Wilson’s death discussed. I see this reflected on the blog’s “stats” page, which shows the search terms that have been employed to reach the blog.
I want to assure readers that I will continue highlighting the upbeat side of Jackie’s life story and celebrating the magnificent music he left us. However, beginning with this entry, there will also be a number of posts recounting the facts concerning Jackie Wilson’s death and posing the questions that have never been answered.
The next part of this series is Jackie Wilson’s Death: Harlean Harris.