Jerry Wexler
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NEW YORK (AP) _ Legendary record producer Jerry Wexler, who helped shape R&B music with influential recordings of Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and other greats, and later made key recordings with the likes of Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, has died, says his co-author, David Ritz. He was 91.

Ritz, co-author of Wexler's 1993 memoir, "Rhythm and the Blues," said he died at his Sarasota, Fla., home at about 3:45 a.m. Friday. He had been ill for a couple of years with congenital heart disease.

Wexler earned his reputation as a music industry giant while a partner at Atlantic Records. Atlantic provided an outlet for the groundbreaking work of African-American performers in the 1950s and '60s. Later, it was a home to rock icons like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. He later helped Dylan win his first Grammy by producing his 1979 "Slow Train Coming" album.

Under Ertegun and Wexler, Atlantic provided an outlet for the groundbreaking work of Af rican-American performers in the 1950s and '60s. Later, it provided a home to rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, Foreigner and Yes.

Wexler helped boost the careers of both the "King of Soul," Charles, and the "Queen of Soul," Franklin. Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke and Percy Sledge were among the other R&B greats who benefited from Wexler's deft recording touch. He also produced Dusty Springfield's classic "Dusty in Memphis," considered a masterpiece of "blue-eyed" soul.

Among the standards produced by Wexler: Franklin's "Respect," a dazzling, feminist reworking of an Otis Redding song; Sledge's deep ballad "When A Man Loves A Woman" and Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour," with a horn vamp inspired by Wexler's admittedly rhythmless dancing.

Wexler was named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

"No one really knew how to make a record when I started," he said in a profile on the rock hall's Web site. "You simply went into the studio, turned on th e mike and said, 'Play."

In the studio, Wexler was a hands-on producer. Once, during a session with Charles, the tambourine player was off the beat. Wexler, in his award-winning autobiography, recalled grabbing the instrument and playing it himself.

"Who's that?" asked Charles.

"Me," Wexler told the blind singer.

"You got it, baby!" Charles said.

The son of Polish immigrants and a music buff since his teens, Wexler landed a job writing for Billboard magazine in the late 1940s after serving in World War II and studying journalism in college. There he coined the term "rhythm and blues" for the magazine's black music charts; previously, they were listed under "race records."

While working at Billboard, Wexler befriended Ertegun - a life-altering friendship for both. Ertegun and a partner had started Atlantic, then a small R&B label in New York. In 1953, when Ertegun's partner left for a two-year military hitch, Wexler stepped in as the lab e l's co-director.

He never left.

"In the early sessions, I just sat there watching (Ertegun) while I was cowering in fright," Wexler told The Associated Press in 2001. "But as time went on, we proved to be a very successful team. ... We went on the road together, we hung out together."

He recalled that Ertegun "wrote many of the songs in the early days, and he drew upon his knowledge of jazz and the blues, because songs always have to have a source. ... This is not to say that there is not great originality."

While Ertegun enjoyed the more bohemian aspects of the music business, Wexler was a working partner. At Atlantic, he collaborated with a virtual who's who of soul: Charles, Pickett, Sledge, Redding, Franklin, Sam and Dave.

Wexler produced 16 albums and numerous hit singles for Franklin, who switched to Atlantic in the mid-1960s and rediscovered her gospel roots after several unhappy years singing show tunes for Columbia. "When it came to the studio, you could say the two of us were joined at the hip," he once said.

Franklin, in a 1980 interview with Rolling Stone, said their collaborations were "among my favorite sessions. I feel the things we did together were dynamite."

In 1967, Wexler and Ertegun sold Atlantic to Warner Bros. for $17.5 million. Although they stayed on to run the company, the pair began moving in different directions.

Wexler began working with a collection of Southern musicians in the 1970s, including guitar genius Duane Allman, Dr. John, and Delaney & Bonnie. He also produced albums for Willie Nelson.

In the 1980s, Wexler worked with Dire Straits, Carlos Santana and George Michael. In April 1988, Atlantic marked its 40th anniversary with an 11-hour concert at Madison Square Garden, with the stage shared by performers from Crosby, Stills & Nash to the Bee Gees to Ben E. King.

Wexler was the quintessential Jewish street kid who found a home in black music. H e was born in 1917 in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, just north of Harlem. He didn't take to school, preferring to hang out at places like Artie's Pool Room on 181st Street.

In his teens, he began haunting Harlem's jazz clubs and record stores, developing a life-long passion for jazz and blues.

When his mother tried to refocus his energies by sending him to Kansas State University in 1936, Wexler instead began taking the 100-mile drive to Kansas City, Mo., to see performers like Count Basie and Joe Turner. His poor grades put him back in New York within two years.

Days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Wexler was drafted into the Army. He spent the war stationed in Texas and Florida, then returned to college to earn a degree in journalism in 1947.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press
Published in Star-Gazette on Aug. 15, 2008.
Memories & Condolences
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54 entries
November 18, 2019
God is a God of all Comfort and he will Comfort the family's...My condolence...
February 21, 2017
Nazarene Mckinney
December 30, 2016
Valenda Newell
February 20, 2016
Jerry not a day goes by I don't think of you and Anita and I hope you two are somehow together. I miss you both.
Tom Moulton
August 8, 2015
Dear JerrySitting here on a quiet Sunday . what I call my R&B music listening day and heard over 50 of the songs that had that Jerry Wexler Atlantic Recording sound. Baby you were the best out there. This music always make you feel so good. I wish that you were still here making great music. I know you need your rest , but i cannot take too much of this 2015 music. I like to believe that in heaven there are computers and you could read this later on tonight. Love you Baby. Best song for me "Day dreaming with aretha Franklin.
Ingrid Gardner
January 22, 2014
I can only imagine the music you are producing in heaven.
Richard Isaacs
November 21, 2012
Tonya Shepherd
April 2, 2010
For Jerry...


Do not weep for me when I no longer dwell among the wonders of the earth; for my larger self is free, and my soul rejoices on the other side of pain...on the other side of darkness.

Do not weep for me, for I am a ray of sunshine that touches your skin, a tropical breeze upon your face, the hush of joy within your heart and the innocence of babes in mothers arms.

I am the hope in a darkened night. And, in your hour of need, I will be there to comfort you. I will share your tears, your joys, your fears, your disappointments and your triumphs.

Do not weep for me, for I am cradled
in the arms of God. I walk with the angels, and hear the music beyond the stars.

Do not weep for me, for I am within you;
I am peace, love, I am a soft wind that caresses the flowers. I am the calm that follows a raging storm. I am an autumns leaf that floats among the garden of God, and I am pure white snow that softly falls upon your hand.

Do not weep for me, for I shall never die, as long as you remember me...
with a smile and a sigh.

© Joe Fazio
~ /Joe Fazio,
Beverly Hills, California
September 22, 2008
I agree its time to let go
September 22, 2008
ok time to let go
karen swakoski
September 19, 2008
Rest in peace.
Chuck Rainey
August 26, 2008
Rest in Peace
Barbara Saunders
August 23, 2008
Jerry Wexler was one of the greatest producers on the planet! I have a file of Atlantic singles...everyone from the Drifters and the Coasters to Lavern Baker and Esther Phillips to Aretha and the Spinners...and his dynamic mark was on every one of those, I'll miss "Wex" immensely...he certainly was one of a kind!
Zach Scott
August 22, 2008
What an icon! Half of my records are on the Atlantic label. Jerry Wexler was "the man" in the recording industry and will be sorely missed. God bless him and his survivors.

Leta Ensey
Leta Ensey Productions Int'l, Inc.
Leta Ensey
August 21, 2008
Newton Collier
August 20, 2008
Jerry will be starting a heavenly record label with Ahmet Ertegun,Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin. We can still enjoy the Atlantic label.
Graham Simmen
August 20, 2008
God blessed your family with a very beautful spirit and such touching music he produced from the great decades of the 60's and 70's music. I remember some of the best times of my childhood listening to Aretha, Ray Charles and countless others he produced they don't make great songs like those anymore may God Bless this family now and alway's !
Cassharon Parent
August 19, 2008
The journey is complete, but the legacy continues. May you rest in peace. Condolonces to the family.
Emory Wright
August 19, 2008
Thanks to you, my high school dance days were the BOMB! You gave my generation Aretha and introduced us to the Great Mr. Charles, what a vision you had. A man before his musical time. Thank you for persuing your dream and connecting Rythym and Blues to main stream America. Thank God for allowing you to have had the wonderful longevity of a blessed life.
August 19, 2008
Thanks for taking the risks to have the music heard!
Greg Soboleski
August 19, 2008
When u run ito John "R" tell him I said "Hi"
with that said, Jerry Wexler is truly a "Soul" Brother!!
His efect on r and b Music will be felt for eternity!!
james Conner
August 19, 2008
Paul and Lisa,
I have followed your Dad's career and your family since we left Great Neck in 1961. I still have Anita's friendship bracelet. I am sorry anoub Jerry's passing away. He offered so much to you all and to the music world. I hope you all remember the great memories. I hope you are both doing well.

Melissa Speir-Yanover
Doris Soeir
11 Myrtle Drive
Great Neck
Melissa Yanover
August 19, 2008
Thanks for your gift to the world and for making it possible for great artist to make a contribution to society. Your love of music and mankind will never be forgotten.
Eunice Williams
August 19, 2008
Our sympathies are offered to the Wexler family. May you find comfort in your precious memories.
(Rev 21:3,4)
Daniels Family
August 19, 2008
Some people idolize pop stars. I idolized Jerry Wexler, Ahmet Ertegun and Tom Dowd.

Jerry Wexler was a great businessman and a "mensch."

He may have passed on, but his great music lives on.
Philip DeYoung
August 18, 2008
Thanks for the great music!
Oran Hamilton
August 18, 2008
Jerry, Thanks for the memories & all the great music. Your music will go on & keep you alive in the hits & in our hearts. Go with God my friend.
Delores Cain
August 18, 2008
August 18, 2008
To a man who certainly affected my taste in music, I will certainly miss you and I should say the Kaddish in your memory. My condolences go to the Wexler family and to music lovers all over the world.
Gary Flinn
August 18, 2008
A true legend. I first heard of Mr. Wexler for his work on Aretha's albums,mainly "Live at Fillmore West" and most of her other albums.Thank you Mr. Wexler for a great body of work with Aretha, the late Ray Charles and others. May your legacy continue and thank you ofr your generous time with us. R.I.P. Mr Jerry Wexler.
Gina Albert
August 17, 2008
Thank you for all the wonderful music. God Bless the Wexler Family and all the music lovers who enjoyed all Mr. Wexler did for our listening pleasure.
Sheryl R. Davis
August 17, 2008


August 17, 2008
May God hold Jerry in His memory. You produced some wonderful musical people. May your family have peace in their lives and comfort from the Bible.
J Mikell
August 17, 2008
In memory,
ToThe Family of Mr.Jerry Wexler.
He only takes the best,God saw he were getting tired,and a cure was not to be,he put his arms around him and whispered"come with me"with tearful eyes,he watched him suffer and saw him fade away.although we loved him dearly,God could not make him stay,a golden heart stopped beating,a determined spirit was at rest,God broke our hearts to prove to us( He only takes the best)We will grieve for him in silence and try not to let it show.Love Welton&Jera~P.O.Box15724,76119
Mr&Mrs.Welton Brown&Family
August 17, 2008
Rest in peace.
Henryk Zaleski
August 17, 2008
August 17, 2008
What a wonderful life in music he had and how blessed we are that he shared that music with us!
August 17, 2008
August 17, 2008
August 16, 2008
Thank you to a true visionary. From your mind to God's ear to my soul.
Music Lover
August 16, 2008
To the family of Jerry,
May the comfort and tender mercies of our heavenly Father be with you all in memory of Jerry. Our heartfelt sympathy is with you.
August 16, 2008
Jesus Loves Me!!!!
Thomas Widgeon
August 15, 2008
I met mr. W at waylons studio n 1974 with willie kinky freidman larry gatlin and waylon I loved atlantic records artists since I was a teen in the fifties a true music man
kent mcneel
August 15, 2008
I learned about Mr.Wexler in the movie "Ray". Thank you for giving the opportunity to so many talented entertainers as we know today. RIP. God bless.
Peni Hollis
August 15, 2008
We appreciate all the lovly music! R.I.P
August 15, 2008
Mainline Florida, OK!!!
Thanks, Jerry, for educating America about its own music. Also, thanks for bringing Cream to the U.S. and turning us Northerners on to Southern rock.

Paul and Lisa: he'll be making music again with Ahmet, Tommy, and Felix, and, of course, Ray. If you listen on the wind, you'll hear "It's a hit!"
Hal Wood
August 15, 2008
I am saddened by the loss of this great man. While in High School I met him at my job at ASCAP. He was always very close to anybobys reach.
I'm glad I met him. Denise Black
I'm very down.
Denise Black
August 15, 2008
Thanks Jerry, for southern rock, blues, soul. Only on this soil, could all come together, hit our innerts, make us move. Great-Job!
marshel ansley
August 15, 2008
Thanks for the music Jerry, it lives on.
Cordell Hall
August 15, 2008
August 15, 2008
Thanks for all the great music
lk m
August 15, 2008
with love
August 15, 2008
What a wonderful life story of a gentleman who made the music industry. May you rest in peace...and our condolences to the Family. God Bless
Lisa Navarro
August 15, 2008
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well-lived.
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