White and of Jewish origin, nothing however intended it to play a part of this scale in the world of the negro music. He was not a musician and did not sing the gospel with the church when he was small, but he was impassioned of Jazz and was likely to be recommended by a friend to enter as journalist to the newspaper Billboard Magazine. Asked to deal with the category Race (“racial music”), i.e. that of the black musicians (jazz, Blues, Boogie woogy…), it replaced this pejorative term in 1949 by that of Rhythm and blues .
In 1953, it was invited by Ahmet Ertegün with becoming vice-president of its recording company Atlantic Records to replace Herb Abramson called up for the military service. Although not knowing nothing there, it did of this small label one of the largest firms on the market of the rhythm & blues in a few years. It reached that point while bringing a rigor and a respect of the musicians who was generally lacking at their competitors.
Formidable discoverer of talents, it is him which engaged the prolific duet of composer-songwriters Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, the producer Phil Spector, or the guitarist Duane Allman, and made collaborate the singers Sam & Dave with Isaac Hayes or large the Aretha Franklin with the musicians of Muscle Shoals. He had the good idea to make distribute the discs of the young label Stax by Atlantic. With Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd, it also produced the discs of Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner, The Drifters, Ruth Brown, Dusty Springfield, Wilson Pickett, etc
But in 1970, it left New York to found Atlantic South with Miami, hoping that its foalta were going to follow it. It was not the case and, except an album of Derek and the Dominos, it did not leave large-thing there good. It assembled then some musical comedies, and still produced some discs for Dr. John, Dire Straits, Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana and George Michael, before being withdrawn definitively.
Jerry Wexler entered to the Rock-and-roll Hall off Famed in 1987 and wrote its memories in its book Rhythm And The Blues published in 1997.
- article of Philippe Auclair in Dictionary of the Rock'n'roll , under the direction of Michka Assayas, 2000.
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