Record producer Jerry Wexler dies at 91

August 17th, 2008 - 1:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 17 (DPA) Jerry Wexler, the record producer who made performers such as Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin famous, died at 91, say news reports. Wexler died of congestive heart failure Friday at his home in Sarasota, Florida, the New York Times reported Saturday.

In the 1950s and 1960s, he worked largely with black artistes who were developing a new style, which later came to be known as soul music.

“He played a major role in bringing black music to the masses, and in the evolution of rhythm and blues to soul music,” the report quoted Jim Henke, vice president and chief curator for the Hall of Fame, as saying.

“Wexler was cutting records as if they were short stories,” Memphis musician and producer Jim Dickinson told the online magazine Salon in 2000. “He brought a depth of literature to a music that was basically treated as if it was primitive.”

He also produced records for Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana, Dire Straits and George Michael.

A native New Yorker, Gerald “Jerry” Wexler was born Jan 10, 1917, to Jewish immigrants Harry and Elsa Spitz Wexler. He was the eldest of two sons and grew up in Washington Heights, Manhattan.

Left to describe himself, he wrote in his 1993 autobiography “Rhythm and the Blues”, “I was simmered in a slow-cooking gumbo of New Orleans jazz, small Harlem combos, big bands, Western swing, country, jukebox race music, pop schmaltz.”

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