Saturday, August 16, 2008

Jerry Wexler Dies at 91

Legendary producer Jerry Wexler, who invented the term "rhythm and blues" while helping shape the careers of stars such as Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, has died aged 91, reports said Friday.

Rolling Stone magazine reported on its website that Wexler, who ran Atlantic Records with Ahmet Ertegun from 1953 to 1975, died at his home in Florida.
During 22 years with Atlantic, Wexler worked with some of the music world's biggest names, including Charles, Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Willie Nelson, Cher, Dusty Springfield and Bob Dylan.

"Because of him, we use the term 'rhythm and blues' and we hail Ray Charles as 'Genius' and Aretha Franklin as 'Queen,'" Rolling Stone commented.

Wexler, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, was born in New York in 1917 and served in the Navy during World War II.

After serving in the military he joined Billboard Magazine as a journalist, where he famously coined the term "rhythm and blues" before joining Atlantic as a partner in 1953.

At Atlantic he presided over a golden age of music, overseeing classic recordings by the likes of soul legend Charles, the Drifters and Ruth Brown.

In the 1960s, notable collaborations included Springfield's "Dusty in Memphis" album, and later he and Ertegun signed Led Zeppelin to Atlantic.

After leaving Atlantic in 1975, Wexler joined Warner Bros Records, where he worked with Dylan on the album "Slow Train Coming."