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15th August
written by Matt The Cat

Jerry Wexler

1917 – 2008

Jerry Wexler was one of those rocks in our business. It was like he was always there and now at age 91, the great record man, producer, journalist Jerry Wexler has left this Earth. In the 1940s he was an accomplished music journalist for Billboard Magazine, coining the phrase “rhythm and blues” to describe black recordings. Up to this point, Billboard referred to its black records chart as “race records” or even worse, “sepia records”. Jerry found a phrase that was not only more musically descriptive, but also far less insulting and divisive.

Ahmet Ertegun, the co-founder of Atlantic Records brought Jerry Wexler in to replace his departing partner, Herb Abramson in the early 1950s. Under Wexler and Ertegun, the label continued to thrive as Ray Charles hit his creative peak and R&B; slowly turned into soul music. During the mid-1960s, Ertegun began to focus more on signing the rock n’ roll acts (Cream, The Young Rascals, Led Zeppelin) while Jerry stayed true to his R&B;/Soul roots. He produced some of the greatest soul records of all time for the likes of Aretha Franklin and worked closely with the musicians of Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL and Stax in Memphis.

He published one of the greatest books on the music biz in “Rhythm & The Blues: A Life In American Music”. Jerry Wexler was a true American music pioneer and should always be remembered for his great contribution to the art form we love so much. I bet Ray Charles is filling Jerry in on all that’s gone on as they jam in that place where all the great spirits go. Jerry Wexler, R.I.P.

-Matt The Cat

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