Al Wilson, (Allen LaMar Wilson) an American soul singer, is widely recognised for his million-selling hit “Show and Tell,” which topped the charts at No 1. He also gained popularity for his Northern soul anthem “The Snake.” Wilson was born on June 19, 1939, in Meridian, Mississippi, where he attended Kate Griffin Elementary School. He participated in school plays, sang in talent shows, and won first prize in a local art contest, but had little interest in education.

Wilson started his career at the age of twelve by leading his own spiritual quartet and singing in the church choir. He also performed covers of country and western hits. After relocating to San Bernardino, California, with his family during his high school years, he worked three jobs as a mail carrier, janitor, and office clerk while teaching himself to play the drums. Wilson spent four years touring with Johnny Harris and the Statesmen after graduating from high school. He then joined the US Navy and sang with an enlisted men’s chorus, during which time he developed his stand-up comedy routine.

Wilson settled in Los Angeles after his two-year military stint, where he toured the local nightclub circuit before joining the R&B vocal group, the Jewels. From there, he landed with the Rollers and then with the instrumental combo, the Souls. In 1966, Wilson signed with manager Marc Gordon, who helped him secure an a cappella audition for Johnny Rivers. Wilson was signed to the Soul City imprint, and Rivers produced the sessions that yielded the 1968 US R&B hit single “The Snake” (U.S. Pop No 27), which became popular on the Northern Soul circuit in the United Kingdom. It also provided Wilson with his only UK Singles Chart hit, reaching No 41 in 1975.

In 1969, Wilson charted with his cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Lodi” (U.S. No 67), and Rivers’ own “Poor Side Of Town” (U.S. No 75). Wilson disappeared from the music industry until 1973 when he released his major hit, “Show And Tell,” written and produced by Jerry Fuller, the man behind the run of hit singles by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap in the late 1960s. The song topped the Hot 100 and reached No 10 in the Billboard R&B chart. The resulting album’s success was matched by the single, which sold over one million copies and earned a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in December 1973.

“The La La Peace Song,” released in 1974, was another success, although O. C. Smith recorded and released a version simultaneously, which affected sales of Wilson’s version. Two years later in 1976, Wilson recorded “I’ve Got a Feeling, We’ll Be Seeing Each Other Again” for Playboy Records, produced by his manager, Marc Gordon. Although it reached No3 on the R&B chart, Wilson was unable to leave Playboy Records due to his recording contract. The label folded two years later. With 1979’s “Count the Days” recorded in Philadelphia for Roadshow Records, Wilson scored his final chart hit and spent the next two decades touring clubs and lounges. In 2001, he re-recorded his hits for the album Spice of Life.

Unfortunately, in March 2007, many of Wilson’s original master tapes were lost in a fire that swept through his home garage, which he had converted into a recording studio.

Wilson’s recording of “The Snake” was featured in a Lambrini advert in the UK, as well as in a Pennsylvania Rally by President Donald Trump.