(Roughly) Daily

The past ain’t what it used to be…

Thanks to the folks at YearBookYourSelf, one can recall the pictorial (and sartorial) glories of bygone academic seasons…  one simply uploads a picture (as current as one wishes), follows the elementary instructions… and is then transported back to the pages of memory-books past…

As we re-gauge our nostalgia, we might recall that in was on this date in 1930 that the first Technicolor sound cartoon, Fiddlesticks (starring the already-well-known Flip The Frog) was made by Ub Iwerks (who went on to anchor Disney’s animation team… indeed, check out the mouse in the still below…).

a still from Fiddlesticks, 1930

And on a sad note (in a week that’s been bad for the icons of rhythm and blues/soul), from Billboard:

Music industry legend Jerry Wexler, who kick-started his career as a
Billboard journalist in the late 1940s and went on to cultivate the
careers of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Led Zeppelin while a
partner at Atlantic Records, has died at the age of 91 at his home in
Siesta Key, Fla.

Wexler was born on Jan. 10, 1917, into a Jewish family in the Bronx.
After graduating from the school now known as Kansas State University
and spending a stint in the Army, he was hired in 1947 at BMI, writing
continuity copy for radio stations and plugging the organization’s

Later that year a friend recommended him to Billboard, where he was
hired with a starting pay of $75 a week. At Billboard, Wexler invented
the term “rhythm & blues” to replace the name “race records,” which
was then the name of the chart tracking such music.

He stayed at Billboard until 1951, when he went to work for Big Three,
the music publishing arm of MGM Records. The following year, Atlantic
Records tried to recruit him, but Wexler said he would only join if he
was made a partner, and nothing happened. A year later, when
co-founder Herb Abramson joined the Army, Atlantic came back with
another offer and this time agreed to take him in as a partner.

Atlantic had already established itself as an up-and-coming R&B label
thanks to hits from artists like Ruth Brown, Joe Turner, Stick McGhee
and the Clovers, with the just-signed Ray Charles waiting in the
wings. If Atlantic founders Abramson and Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun led
the way into exploring rhythm and blues, it would be Wexler who
ultimately led the label deep into Southern soul.

In 1965, he signed a distribution deal for Memphis-based Satellite
Records, which was putting out songs by Carla Thomas. That label would
later become known as Stax. Before long, Stax began a golden era of
hits from Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd and
William Bell, among others.

Before long, Wexler had begun using FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals,
Ala., as a home base for sessions. “More than any other locale or
individual, Muscle Shoals changed my life — musically and every which
way,” Wexler wrote in his 1994 autobiography, “Rhythm & the Blues: A
Life in American Music.”

The first artist he brought to Muscle Shoals was Aretha Franklin,
whose 1967 debut, “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You,” redefined
soul music.

As the ’60s wore on, Wexler grew more involved with producing and much
less with running Atlantic, although he was still closely involved in
signing Led Zeppelin, the J. Geils Band and Donnie Hathaway. He left
Atlantic for good in 1975, but resurfaced two years later returned as
VP of A&R for Warner Bros. Records.

In his autobiography, Wexler says that with the help of Karen Berg,
they signed the B-52’s, Dire Straits and Gang Of Four. During the
latter half of the 1970s, Wexler produced Etta James’ “Deep in the
Night,” Bob Dylan’s Christian album, “Slow Train Coming,” Kim Carnes
“Sailin'” [with you correspondent’s old band-mate on lead], and Dire Straits
“Communique,” among others.

Later in life, Wexler was involved with “The Wiz” soundtrack, the
Dylan album “Saved” and recordings by a young George Michael, Bill
Vera, Lou Ann Barton and Kenny Drew Jr.

Written by (Roughly) Daily

August 16, 2008 at 1:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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