The legendary Jackie Wilson, collapsed of a heart attack while performing on stage for Dick Clark’s ‘Good Ol’ Rock and Roll Revue’ at the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, N.J on September 29, 1975. He quickly lapsed into a coma and was in a virtual vegetative state until his death on Jan. 21, 1984.
Wilson was singing his hit, “Lonely Teardrops,” when he suffered the massive heart attack. When he collapsed on stage, audience members initially thought it was part of the singer’s act.
Dick Clark saw that something was terribly wrong and told the musicians to kill the music. Cornell Gunter, the lead singer of the group, Coasters, was backstage and saw that Wilson wasn’t breathing. Gunter was able to revive him and Wilson was rushed to a nearby hospital. Medical personnel worked for a half-hour to stabilize him. However, the lack of oxygen to Wilson’s brain caused him to slip into a coma.
Wilson briefly emerged from his coma in early 1976, and was even able to take a few steps. Unfortunately, he slipped back into a semi-comatose state and he ultimately died from complications due to pneumonia on Jan. 21, 1984, at 49.
Many have said that Wilson was broke allegedly because his manager, Nat Tarnopol, jacked millions of dollars from him.
Now here’s the thing that most people never knew happened with Dick Clark: During Wilson’s comatose state, Clark found out that Jackie was broke. So after receiving word of that, Clark REFUSED to sit by and watch Wilson’s health be compromised because of financial deficiencies, so he committed himself to paying Jackie’s medical bills all the way up to the very day that Jackie died, which was 8 years and 4 months after his heart attack. Incredible!
Who would’ve thought that this unlikely match up would have ended up happening? At that time, Dick Clark was just known as the dude on American Bandstand, but he was obviously a real stand up guy for doing what he did. There’s no telling what would have happened to Jackie Wilson soon after his heart attack, had Clark not have stepped up.