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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

Beginnings

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

Beatles 1965 Rubber Soul

Beatles 1965 Rubber Soul

Beatles 1965 Rubber Soul
George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney

The Beatles released their Rubber Soul album in time for Christmas on December 6, 1965. It became the Billboard #1 album on January 8, 1966 and remained there until February 18.

Beatles 1965 Rubber Soul

1965 Turning Point

1965 was a turning point for 1960s music. Although Beatlemania had hit America in 1964 and the band had six #1 singles that year alone, the music was still not what would eventually lead to the Woodstock Music and Art Fair and other such festivals.

After their touring ended in 1966, the Beatles went into the studio and went in another direction. Why?

The simplest answer is that Dylan had gone in a different direction and the Beatles realized that they could, too. And where Dylan and the Beatles headed, many followed.

Beatles 1965 Rubber Soul

Meeting Bob

In August 1964 the Beatles played a concert in New York City and afterwards famously met Bob Dylan who didn’t realize at first he was introducing the Beatles to marijuana. He was and they reportedly enjoyed the experience. (see Bob Dylan Introduces the Beatles for more).

In 1965, Dylan had gone  “gone electric” to both the delight and dismay of his fans. His song “Maggie’s Farm” was his declaration of independence. No longer would he be pigeon-holed as a protest folk singer.

Beatles 1965 Rubber Soul

Back in the Studio

When happened in the studio when the Beatles returned there in October 1965 was “Rubber Soul.”  While  the pop sound they were known was still a part of their music,  now there was more depth, too. Boomers had lyrics to figure out.

Beatles 1965 Rubber Soul

For example, John Lennon sang on “Girl”

Was she told when she was young that pain
Would lead to pleasure?
Did she understand it when they said
That a man must break his back to earn
His day of leisure?
Will she still believe it when he’s dead?
Ah girl
Girl
Girl
Beatles 1965 Rubber Soul

More than holding hands

To the typical American Baby Boomer teenager, this was no longer simply wanting to “…hold your hand.

Beatles 1965 Rubber Soul

1966 Fork in the Road

In 1966 American pop music came upon a fork in the road and some fans remained on the well-traveled road, the road of 45s, and top ten.

Others took what was for them a path less traveled. That same year, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys produced the definitely-not-surf-music Pet Sounds. The Beatles closed 1966 with what some call Rubber Soul part two, Revolver, a continuation of their musical and lyrical experimentation.

The Mothers of Invention released Freak Out! Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests got into full swing. Light shows at concerts began. Crawdaddy, the first rock and roll magazine to write full and serious articles, appeared. Concerts at San Francisco’s Fillmore began. John Lennon got into trouble after pointing out that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. FM rock stations began.

Beatles 1965 Rubber Soul

More 1965

Jefferson Airplane released their first album. The Beatles performed their final live concert. Jimi Hendrix hit England. The Beatles began to record Sgt. Pepper’s.

That less traveled path would lead to Woodstock after a few other festival stops along the way.

For more about the album, click through >>> The Beatles site

Beatles 1965 Rubber Soul

Beatlemania Arrives Hullabaloo Arrives

Beatlemania Arrives Hullabaloo Arrives

After the Beatles and Beatlemania arrived in the US in 1964, American TV producers realized that prime time musical variety shows aimed at the Boomer youth market would be a good investment.

Shindig!

Beatlemania Arrives Hullabaloo Arrives
photo from: http://ctva.biz/Music/US/Shindig.htm

Of course, Dick Clark already had his afternoon American Bandstand.  The folk craze was fading and in September 1964, ABC TV entered with it’s Shindig! It succeeded. At least for awhile.

Beatlemania Arrives Hullabaloo Arrives

Hullabaloo

Beatlemania Arrives Hullabaloo Arrives
photo from: http://www.klru.org/program/60s-pop-flashback-hullabaloo-my-music/

On January 8, 1965,  in response to Shindig!, NBC TV premiered Hullabaloo. The first show included performances by The New Christy Minstrels, comedian Woody Allen, actress Joey Heatherton and a segment from London in which Brian Epstein introduced The Zombies and Gerry & the Pacemakers.

Here’s a retrospective on Shindig!

Beatlemania Arrives Hullabaloo Arrives

Mamas and Papas

Here’s a recording of the Mamas and Papas appearance on Hullabaloo. Is the scenery of  those several bath tubs trying to tell us something?

 

Beatlemania Arrives Hullabaloo Arrives

Joey Heatherton

And on August 29, 1966, Hullabaloo ended. While the hunk Robert Goulet may have been OK for viewers,  the far too sexy for prime time Joey Heatherton might be sending the wrong message–for some. For others, they couldn’t get enough of her message for some!

Beatlemania Arrives Hullabaloo Arrives

Ratings and opinions

But prime time TV is a difficult place for rock and roll.  Even in the mid-60s, rock’s unwashed rough image was still seen as vulgar. Ironically, exactly a year later on January 8, 1966, ABC aired Shindig!’s last show.

Beatlemania Arrives Hullabaloo Arrives

Hullabaloo Departs Monkees Arrive

What was it replaced with? On September 12, 1966, enter the Monkees.

Why such short-lived runs for a shows that seemed to have such guaranteed success? It is part of TV culture to keep shows only as long as they are very successful. Mediocre ratings are rarely tolerated, particularly if someone thinks they have a better idea.

Also those pesky Beatles were changing the rules.

  1. On the same day that Shindig! ended, the Beatles latest album, Rubber Soul, became the Billboard #1 album.
  2. Also on the same day, those same Beatles had another #1 single with We Can Work It Out.

Link with a bit more info about Hullabaloo >>> KLRU article

Beatlemania Arrives Hullabaloo Arrives