Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wexler Left An Undeniable Mark on Music

By Allen Bacon
The Daily Bosco

I often wonder how music would have changed if it were not for certain events or certain people behind the scenes.

For instance, what would have happened if Buddy Holly had not died in a plane crash? He was innovative and was ahead of the curve for his time. Many people tried to imitate his sound. The biggest complement coming from arguably the most popular band of all time, The Beatles. I believe Buddy Holly would have come up with stuff that we can't even imagine if he had lived. He would not have ended up as a Vegas act that's for sure.

Then there is Jerry Wexler who died last week at the age of 91. He probably has had the greatest influence in Rock and Soul music in the last 50 years. The greatest music producer of all time? You can make a very strong case for that.

He started out a music journalist as an editor and reporter for Billboard magazine and quickly parlayed that into a career in producing. And if you don't think he was a major player in the music world just listen to this roster of the talent he worked with: Ray Charles, The Drifters, Ruth Brown, Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, Wilson Pickett, Dusty Springfield...Bob Dylan. Where would these people have been without Wexler? That is very hard to say. I would argue, with the possible exception of Dylan (who Wexler revived his career) they would not have made their mark without his guidance.

I think the music I loved the most that was influenced by Wexler is the wonderful music that came out of Staxx Records in Memphis in the 60's. Motown South. Motown with an edge and a lot more soul. Out of that studio in Memphis we got Wison Pickett, Aretha Franklin (who Wexler was credited for catapulting her career to a level way beyond what she was doing) and a wonderful bit of Blue-eyed soul in the Dusty Springfield in Memphis album that Wexler produced.

Wexler was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. His Musical Legacy will live on Forever.

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