Saturday, August 16, 2008

Mr Rhythm and Blues

If anyone deserved the title Mr Rhythm and Blues it was Jerry Wexler, who has died aged 91. Not only did he coin the phrase while a music journalist with Billboard magazine but he played a key role in its development as a partner at Atlantic Records. This white Jewish New Yorker record collector and music enthusiast produced records by dozens of great R and B acts, from Ruth Brown, Ray Charles, Chuck Willis, The Drifters, Clyde McPhatter, The Clovers and LaVern Baker in the 1950s, through to Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, Dr John and Doug Sahm in the 1960s. as well as rock acts such as Led Zeppelin, Cream and Duane Allman.
Along with Ahmet Ertegun he made Atlantic the premier R and B label until its sale to Warner in 1967 and also helped to put Stax and Muscle Shoals on the map. Later he produced film tracks and albums with artists such as Etta James, Dire Straits and Bob Dylan. Truly one of the greats of 20th century music, Jerry Wexler's name will forever be associated with some of the classic recordings of the era. Here's Jerry's obituary in the Daily Telegraph
Another name from the past who has died is Lita Rosa, aged 82. A big star in the early 50s, she was one of the first big music names to come out of Liverpool. Her biggest hit was How Much Was That Doggie In The Window, which was a cover of the original by Patti Page. Says it all about the British music scene in the 1950s. Pop Britannia on BBC2 showed just how derivative and sterile the UK pop scene was throughout the 50s.


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