Wilson was born in Meridian, Mississippi. He showed little interest in education but performed in school plays, sang in talent shows and won first prize in a local art contest.
After a two-year military stint, Wilson settled in Los Angeles, touring the local nightclub circuit before joining the R&B vocal group the Jewels; from there he landed with the Rollers, followed by a stint with the instrumental combo the Souls. In 1966, Wilson signed with manager Marc Gordon, who quickly sought his client an acappella audition for Johnny Rivers.
With 1979's "Count the Days" recorded in Philadelphia for Roadshow Records, Wilson scored his final chart hit and he spent the next two decades touring clubs and lounges. In 1999, Al was honoured by the California State Assembly in the First Class of Freedom Fighters for Musical Arts. In 2001, he re-recorded his hits for the album Spice of Life.