Soul And / Or Related Artists
jerry wexler

Jerry Wexler

b. Gerald Wexler, 10th January 1917, New York City, New York State, U.S.A.

d. 15th August 2008, Sarasota, Florida, U.S.A.

Gerald Wexler was born in New York City on the 10th of January 1917, and grew up in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.

His father, Harry, was a Polish immigrant who spent his entire working life as a window cleaner.

His mother, Elsa, wanted him to be a writer.

In 1936, Elsa Wexler enrolled Jerry at Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science (known today as Kansas State University) in Manhattan, Kansas.

Jerry Wexler graduated from school at the age of 15, and completed a degree in journalism following his spell in the U.S. Army.

Jerry Wexler

He left college after two years, joined the Army, served stateside during World War II, then returned to Kansas State and finished his degree.

By 1949 he was back in New York, married and working as a young reporter for Billboard, but left, having refused to compile a dossier on the Weavers during the height of the McCarthy era.

In 1950, while he was still at Billboard, he encountered the young singer Patti Page and hummed for her a 1947 song he liked, 'The Tennessee Waltz'.

Her subsequent recording of it sold three million copies in eight months.

In 1952, Jerry was invited to run the publishing arm of Atlantic Records, but waited, only joining the company as a partner and shareholder the following year when an opportunity in record promotion arose.

He entered production with LaVern Baker's 'Soul On Fire', which he co-wrote with Ahmet Ertegun and Jesse Stone.

Weeks later he produced the Drifters' single 'Money Honey', one of the biggest R & B hits of 1953, and was instrumental in insisting on the high quality that marked Atlantic's subsequent releases, notably those of Ray Charles.

This was reinforced by Herb Abramson and Ahmet Ertegun.

Jerry Wexler

A few years later he was a partner at Atlantic, presiding over the 1954 recording session of Ray Charles’s hit, 'I’ve Got a Woman.'

He said later that the best thing he had done for Ray Charles was to let him do as he pleased.

The following decade he produced several hits for Solomon Burke and became a pivotal figure in the company's distribution and recording agreement with Stax Records.

The arrangement breathed new life into Atlantic, giving it access to southern soul artists and musicians.

Jerry brought Aretha Franklin to the label, and their collaborations, including 'I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)' and 'Respect', resulted in some of the era's finest recordings, which in turn won him industry awards as best producer in 1967 and 1968.

In the late 1960s and ’70s, he made 14 Atlantic albums with Ms. Franklin.

He also brought Otis Redding and Dusty Springfield, among others, to record at Stax’s studio, which was in an old movie palace in McElmore Avenue in Memphis.

Jerry was, later, responsible for signing a British band called Led Zeppelin and eventually produced records by Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana, Dire Straits and George Michael.

He retained an interest in 'roots' music through work with Delaney And Bonnie, Dr. John and Jesse Davis.

Jerry Wexler

However, Wexler gradually distanced his commitment to Atlantic following its absorption into the WEA Records group, and resigned in 1975.

He undertook ,'outside' production, notably with Bob Dylan ('Slow Pain Coming') and Dire Straits ('Communique'), and remained one of the most respected professionals of post-war music.

Jerry Wexler died on Friday the 15th of August 2008 at his home in Sarasota, Florida. He was 91.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said his son, Paul.

Jerry Wexler’s first two marriages ended in divorce.

In addition to his son, who lives in High Bridge, New Jersey, he is survived by his wife, Jean Arnold, and a daughter, Lisa Wexler of Kingston, New York. Another daughter, Anita, passed away from A.I.D.S. in 1989.

Jerry Wexler

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