And Yet More...

Wexler also produced Dusty Springfield's Dusty in Memphis and the hit single, Son of a Preacher Man, a benchmark of blue-eyed soul, although Springfield chose to record her vocals over backing tracks in New York, rather than live in the Stax studio. He was active behind-the-scenes, encouraging songwriter Carole King to embark on the solo career that resulted in Tapestry, although the production credit on the album went to Lou Adler rather than Jerry Wexler.

In 1974, he tried to establish a Nashville branch of the label, which resulted in two albums by Willie Nelson and not much else, and by the end of 1975, Wexler had left Atlantic and, apart from a brief spell as the East Coast A&R man for Warner Bros. went freelance for the rest of his career.

Over the next two decades he produced albums for Bob Dylan (Slow Train Coming and Saved), Cher (3614 Jackson Highway), Dire Straits (Communiqué), Etta James (Deep in the Night and The Right Time), Allen Toussaint, the Staple Singers, George Michael, Jose Feliciano, Linda Ronstadt (What’s New, a collection of Sinatraesque standards) and Carlos Santana (Havana Moon), as well as soundtracks for films by Louis Malle and Richard Pryor.

After Wexler retired shortly after his 80th birthday someone asked him what he’d like written on his tombstone.

The response? 

More bass.

And so, with his passing, we’ve lost the last of the triumvirate that gave us Atlantic Records. For a great view of the Atlantic story, may I recommend two DVDs: Atlantic Records: The House That Ahmet Built, released after Ahmet Ertegun left us, and the wonderful Tom Dowd & The Language of Music.

Twenty Essential Jerry Wexler Productions

B© Ian Hughes 2012