Friday, August 15, 2008

Jerry Wexler

Coming less than a week after the sudden death of Isaac Hayes, Jerry Wexler's demise, at age 91, all but draws the curtain on the great rise of soul music in the 1960s. Along with sound engineer Tom Dowd, Wexler was the architect of so much terrific music from the South.

Of course, Wexler was much more, too. His career – often in concert with the Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun – spanned several decades, and saw him bringing out the best in artists that included Clyde McPhatter, Joe Turner, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Duane Allman, Dr. John, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Esther Phillips and Etta James. More recently, his work included sessions with Bob Dylan and Carlos Santana. And, oh yeah, he signed a little British band called Led Zeppelin.

If you haven't read Rhythm and the Blues: A Life in American Music – co-written by Wexler and David Ritz – it's a must. A compelling look at the rise of Atlantic Records and the life of a guy who was a unique visionary in the music business.

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