Rhythm and Blues pioneer Jerry Wexler, who helped build Atlantic Records into a music powerhouse in the 1950s and 1960s with artists like Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles, died in Florida on Friday at age 91, Atlantic Records said.

Rhythm and Blues pioneer Jerry Wexler, who helped build Atlantic Records into a music powerhouse in the 1950s and 1960s with artists like Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles, died in Florida on Friday at age 91, Atlantic Records said.

Along with Atlantic’s Ahmet Ertegun, Wexler revolutionized R&B music and built a record label that had few rivals in its day, pioneering Atlantic’s move into “Southern Soul” music.

But his influence was not limited to R&B. He helped guide the careers of many artists including rockers Led Zeppelin.

“Jerry brought a rare combination of creativity, intelligence, wit, artistic sensibility, and business savvy to the evolution of Atlantic from a small independent label into a major industry force,” Atlantic said in a statement.

Wexler was born in the Bronx, New York, in January 1917 and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war, he worked for music publication Billboard magazine as a journalist where he coined the term “Rhythm and Blues.”

A passionate jazz fan, Wexler joined Atlantic in 1953 working alongside Ertegun, who died in 2006, as Atlantic forged a partnership with the Memphis-based Stax Records — the home of Otis Redding and members of Booker T. & The MG’s. Other music stars he produced included Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave and the Drifters.

Later in his career, Wexler was instrumental in signing Led Zeppelin to Atlantic, produced albums for Bob Dylan and Carlos Santana and aided the career of the Allman Brothers by helping their manager, Phil Walden, set up Capricorn Records.

Others in the Atlantic stable whose careers were guided, in part, by Wexler included Dusty Springfield and Willie Nelson.

Wexler was a partner at Atlantic and remained an executive until 1975 when he left his post as Vice Chairman. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

(Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte, Editing by Anthony Boadle)

Original Source

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top