Friday, August 15, 2008

Man Who Marketed Black Music to the Masses Is Dead at 91.
Jerry Wexler was the ultimate music man.

"He loved Black music, R&B music and rhythm and blues was his foundation. He had a feeling for it, he had the knack to keep it going in his heart and recognize the talent that he felt was real," Solomon Burke said after learning of his death. "Jerry Wexler didn't change the sound of America, he put the sound to the public. He open the doors and windows to the radio stations ... and made everybody listen."
Wexler earned his reputation as a music industry giant while a partner at Atlantic Records with another legendary music figure, the late Ahmet Ertegun. Atlantic provided an outlet for the groundbreaking work of African-American performers in the 1950s and '60s.

Wexler helped boost the careers of both the "King of Soul," Ray Charles, and the "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin. Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke and Percy Sledge were among the other R&B greats who benefited from Wexler's deft recording touch. Among the standards produced by Wexler: Franklin's "Respect," a dazzling, feminist reworking of an Otis Redding song; Sledge's deep ballad "When A Man Loves A Woman" and Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour," with a horn vamp inspired by Wexler's admittedly rhythmless dancing.
Jerry Wexler's son Paul said the record producer died at home of heart disease; the death was first confirmed by David Ritz, co-author of Wexler's 1993 memoir, "Rhythm and the Blues."
Aretha Franklin noted that Wexler produced her first platinum album, the classic 1972 gospel recording "Amazing Grace."

"I think the things that we produced absolutely brought soul to the forefront as evidenced by my having the cover of Time magazine," she said. "There had definitely been a musical revolution there, revolutionary change in music, and soul came into prominence."

He also produced Dusty Springfield's classic "Dusty in Memphis," which would become a benchmark of "blue-eyed" soul, as well as key recordings for the Memphis-based soul label Stax Records; Wexler created a partnership where Atlantic distributed Stax records and eventually took control of their master recordings.

Jerry Wexler was the son of Polish immigrants and a music buff since his teens, Wexler, a New York City native, landed a job writing for Billboard magazine in the late 1940s after serving in World War II and studying journalism at Kansas State University. He coined the term "rhythm and blues" for the magazine's Black music charts; previously, they were listed under "race records." The album covers were plain brown wrappers so that no Black artist's picture would appear on the record cover. Race Music was considered vulgar and was believed to be capable of perverting white youths. Elvis Presley took the music and the lyrics to mainstream white audiences. He was the bridge that allowed Black music to reach white audiences. His performing of Black R&B songs opened the door for Black artists to reach mainstream audiences.



Blogger ichbinalj said...

Aretha Franklin is the greatest singer in Rock n' Roll era, acccording to a new Rolling Stone magazine poll.

She's already the Queen of Soul, but now Aretha Franklin has been named the greatest singer of the rock era in a poll conducted by Rolling Stone magazine.

Franklin, 66, came in ahead of Ray Charles at No. 2, Elvis Presley at No. 3, Sam Cooke at No. 4 and John Lennon at No. 5, according to the magazine's survey of 179 musicians, producers, Rolling Stone editors, and other music-industry insiders.

The 100-strong list will be published on Friday 14 November 2008, when Rolling Stone hits the newsstands with four different covers. (11/11/2008 Reuters)

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