Friday, August 15, 2008

Jerry Wexler, 1917 - 2008

Legendary record producer Jerry Wexler passed away early this morning at the age of 91, in a hospice in Sarasota, Florida.

Wexler had coined the term 'rhythm and blues' in the late 1940's when he was a music journalist for Billboard magazine.

He joined the staff of Atlantic Records in 1953, and in the process of signing and producing several of that labels artists he became a prime shaper of the path the American music industry would follow.

During the 1960's he played an integral role in bringing the Atlantic and Stax labels to the forefront of soul music, and was likewise a key figure in propagating the Muscle Shoals sound.

Among many other significant working relationships with musician, he was responsible for 'rescuing' Aretha Franklin from Columbia Records and turning her sound around, and along with Atlantic founder Ahmet Ertegun signed Led Zeppelin to Atlantic in 1968.

There's plenty of good information and anecdotes about Jerry Wexler available online.

Here's a list of a few links to investigate:

- An obituary, from SF Gate.

- Going back to 2000, a great bio/article by
Alex Halberstadt,
from the 'Brilliant Careers' archives of Salon.Com.

- The Jerry Wexler entry at All Music.Com

- 'Behind The Sound' another nice article at There.Com includes a Real Player link to ten minutes of audio from a 1990's interview with Wexler, in which he discusses the presence of hip-hop in Pop Culture, the origins of Rock & Roll and more.

- Filmed a few years ago, Wexler in video clips on YouTube, discusses working with Bob Dylan.

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