Joel Emmanuel Hägglund Joe Hill

Joel Emmanuel Hägglund Joe Hill

Joe Hill was born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund in Gävle, Sweden on October 7, 1879 and immigrated to the United States in 1902.

Joe Hill
Joe Hill

Industrial Workers of the World

Like many immigrants, he found work where he could and found the bias that most immigrants faced by those already living in the U.S. He decided that if workers organized, they would get better treatment and around 1906 he joined the Industrial Workers of the World.

Joel Emmanuel Hägglund Joe Hill
IWW label

Joe Hill became active in the IWW, or Wobblies as they were nicknamed, speaking and writing on workers organizing. He also wrote songs, one of the most famous being “Rebel Girl.”

Joel Emmanuel Hägglund Joe Hill
“Rebel Girl” sheet music cover

January 10, 1914

On January 10, 1914, grocer John G. Morrison, 47, and his son Arling, 17, were murdered in their Salt Lake City store

Despite evidence suggesting another man was responsible police arrested Joe Hill, a labor activist and member of the Industrial Workers of the World. After finding him guilty the State executed Hill on November 19, 1915.

Accused of murder

Hill was tried for the deaths of the Morrisons. 12 other men had been arrested in connection with the crime before Hill and four other men in Salt Lake City had been treated for bullet wounds on the night of the murders. But Hill was an activist and another in the long line of activists that the Establishment found easier to successfully prosecute even with a lack of evidence.

Joe Hill was found guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad. on November 19, 1915 [legend has it that he yelled “Fire!”].  Joe Hill wrote his will in verse:

My will is easy to decide,

For there is nothing to divide,

My kin don’t need to fuss and moan-

“Moss does not cling to a rolling stone.”

My body? Ah, If I could choose,

I would to ashes it reduce,

And let the merry breezes blow

My dust to where some flowers grow.

Perhaps some fading flower then

Would come to life and bloom again.

This is my last and final will,

Good luck to all of you, Joe Hill.

His cremated remains were sent to the IWW headquarters in Chicago He had requested that friends spread his ashes in every state except Utah. He didn’t want to be caught dead there.

Joel Emmanuel Hägglund Joe Hill
Joe Hill after execution
Joel Emmanuel Hägglund Joe Hill

Lead sentence

The NYT article‘s lead sentence was: Joseph Hillstrom, alias Joe Hill, poet laureate of the I. W. W., received about such a funeral today as he would have desired, according to his friends.

In 1925 Alfred Hayes wrote the Joe Hill poem and in 1936 Earl Robinson (1910 – 1991) wrote the song “Joe Hill” in 1936. Joan Baez has sung the song throughout her career, most notably at the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Festival [at the time of the concert, Baez’s husband, David Harris, was in prison for draft evasion].

Joel Emmanuel Hägglund Joe Hill


Salt Lake City Tribute article

Music Producer Jerry Wexler

Music Producer Jerry Wexler

Remembering Jerry Wexler
January 10, 1917 – August 15, 2008

Music Producer Jerry Wexler

Music Producer Jerry Wexler


Jerry Wexler is another of those names we saw on record labels and album covers. Not the musician; not the writer; but a common  presence.

Jerry was born in the Bronx on January 10, 1917. He briefly attended  the City College of New York, then enrolled at Kansas State University  before again dropping out of college.

He joined the army and following his military service, he finished his degree in Journalism at Kansas State.

Music Producer Jerry Wexler

Billboard magazine

Wexler got his start in music as a journalist for Billboard magazine. He is credited with coining the term “Rhythm and Blues” for music  previously labeled “Race Records.”

Music Producer Jerry Wexler
Atlantic Records

Wexler joined Atlantic Records as a partner in 1953 and quickly became Ahmet Ertegun’s close friend.  With Ertegun, he helped forge Atlantic’s success, producing artists like Ruth Brown, Ray Charles, and The Drifters.

For the first time in American music history, the average white kid could easily hear music previously isolated to the fringe or covered by an average white band.

Jerry Wexler also produced LaVern Baker, Big Joe Turner, Solomon Burke, Dr. John, Wilson Pickett, and Aretha Franklin. He helped Aretha Franklin adjust her unsuccessful sound at Columbia Records and sent her to  Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins, Jimmy Johnson, and David Hood’s  Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama. The collaboration brought fame and financial success to both.

To Warner Bros. Records

Wexler left Atlantic Records in 1975 to work for Warner Bros. Records. He signed Dire Straits, Etta James, and the B-52s among others before leaving to work on a freelance basis.

It was as a freelance producer that Wexler recorded Bob Dylan’s Slow Train Coming album at Muscle Shoals. The single, “Gotta Serve Somebody” from that album won a Grammy award in 1980.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Among his thankful words, he said, ““We were making rhythm and blues music–black music by black musicians for black adult buyers perpetrated by white Jewish and Turkish entrepreneurs.”

More bass

He famously said, when asked what he would like inscribed on his tombstone, “Two words: ‘More bass.'”

Jerry Wexler died at his home in Sarasota, Florida, on August 15, 2008.

His tombstone has his name, the years of his birth and death, and the words: HE CHANGED THE WORLD.

Jerry Wexler

Below is a 2002 Interview by John Sutton-Smith with Wexler.

Atlantic Records site

The Telegraph obit

Music Producer Jerry Wexler