Icon Jerry Wexler dies at 91 in Florida

August 16th, 2008 - 10:15 pm ICT by David M N James  

Jerry Wexler, a pioneering music executive whole co-founded the Atlantic Studios is dead. Wexler died at the age of 91 in Florida yesterday. Wexler was behind the creation of a Rhythm and Blues powerhouse Atlantic Records which has been his bedrock. The record studio raised popular music stars like Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. Wexler is celebrated for revolutionizing R&B music through an independent label that had few rivals in its day, spearheading Atlantic’s move into “Southern soul” music.

Apart from bringing up talent in Charles and Franklin, Wexler was behind the growth of actors like Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett and Robert Flack among other artists. Atlantic records lament that “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,” Born in New York in January 1917 to a family of Jewish immigrants Jerry worked as a window washer with his father.

He served as a naval officer during World War II. After the war, he joined a music publication renowned Billboard Magazine as a co-journalist where he incepted rhythm and blues.

Wexler’s death is a blow to the Atlantic Studios and the music industry in the United States.

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