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Gerald "Jerry" Wexler Died

August 17, 2008 | People
Gerald "Jerry" Wexler died August 15, 2008. He was a music journalist turned music producer, and was regarded as one of the major record industry players behind music from the 1950s through the 1980s. During his time as an editor, reporter, and writer for Billboard Magazine, he christened black popular music with the name "rhythm and blues", the music Elvis listened to and recorded. He became a partner in Atlantic Records in 1953. There followed classic recordings with Ray Charles, the Drifters and Ruth Brown. In 1987 Wexler was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he retired from the music business in the late 1990s.
OtisBlue22 wrote on August 17, 2008
If I had my choice, Elvis would have went to Atlantic in 1955 (if he had to go anywhere). RCA, in comparison, seemed a bit too business-like.
Sean Ryan wrote on August 17, 2008
After Elvis got out of the army, he should have sacked Parker and changed his record label from RCA to Atlantic.Wexler would have loved working with Elvis and visa versa.If this would have happened, Elvis would have had the same success in the 60's as he had in the 50's as far as studio recordings are concerned.The 70's would have been much better as well.
JerryNodak wrote on August 17, 2008
If wishes were horses, then beggers would be kings.
Steve V wrote on August 18, 2008
I always said Elvis should have been an Atlantic artist from way back. RCA didnt understand this 'new' music at all. Atlantic had its hand on the pulse. Thanks Jerry for all the great artists you produced. Too bad Elvis wasnt among them.
ElvisDayByDay wrote on August 18, 2008
Steve V; perhaps RCA didn't understand the new music, they were brave enough to buy Elvis' contract for a record amount of $35,000 with an additional $5,000 on the side for Elvis. Music-wise they were brave too, "Heartbreak Hotel" was the debut single on the RCA label, a song about suicide ... That said, a change for Elvis would have been good, be it another label or another manager. The latter wasn't logical at the time, the Colonel made him a star, earned him a million bucks in his first year and kept him alive while away in Germany. A change halfway the sixties would have been a good idea.
JLpResLey wrote on August 18, 2008
Kees, I totally agree with you. In the fifties, Elvis got the right songs and the management was doing a phenomenal job. Hard to complain when you look at the hits like Don´t Be Cruel, Jailhouse Rock and All Shook Up. I can´t understand why Parker should be fired at this time. He was doing a great job while Elvis was away. In the later years, sure, he could have been fired, but not in the fities or in the early sixties
old shep wrote on August 18, 2008
In the fifties RCA had a huge stake in the Country and MOR market so it was logical with Elvis' roots and Paker's contacts that he should pursued this lucrative commercial field to further his career and follow the new trends in music. I don't think that Elvis could have made a better move than to go to RCA. In the early 1950s R&B had limited appeal for a white audience hence the plethora of cover versions of the R&B black artists of the day, and it would be doubtful if Elvis would have been allowed to sing country songs which he loved at Atlantic. But what a pity Elvis didn't go for it in the mid sixties though under Wexler's guidance as his producer. Perhaps then we wouldn't have had to endure the likes of Old Macdonald and Confidence
Sean Ryan wrote on August 18, 2008
JLpResLey, Parker didnt have anything to do with picking songs like Heartbreak Hotel,Dont Be Cruel,Jailhouse Rock etc for Elvis to record.I also disagree that Parker made Elvis a star, it was obvious Elvis was gonna make it big with or without Parker.Im not saying Parker didnt contribute anything to Elvis' success in the 50's cause he obviously did but Parker gets too much credit IMO.Parker should have got the boot in the early 60's when he cancelled the '62 US tour.
JLpResLey wrote on August 18, 2008
Sean Ryan - I see your point. I also think that parker gets to much credit. But if you don´t give him the credit for the early hits, then he shouldn´t be blamed for the bad soundtracks etc. Parker did not make elvis a star. Sure, he made the deals for the televisions shows in 1956. That became his breakthrough, but Elvis made that breakthrough. It was his performance, not his appearance in this shows. I am thankful for the change in style after the army. The ballads and the slower songs. I think Parker influenced him, because that was the kind of singer he wanted to manage. He really wasn´t comfortable with the rebel that was Elvis Presley
sitdown68 wrote on August 18, 2008
SeanRyan: Wow, first time that I learn that there was a tour scheduled for 1962. Would you pleas update me on this intresting topic? Thanks a lot!
Sean Ryan wrote on August 18, 2008
Sitdown68, From what i know there was a 12 city US tour planned for '62 but i think the reason it didnt go ahead was cause RCA wanted a 25 city tour cause they wanted to record it.This was the reason why Elvis only did 2 films in '62.Im sure others may have better details about it but a tour was planned for that year.
Steve V wrote on August 18, 2008
In Peter Guralnick's book, Careless Love, he talks about it on page 136. Can you imagine an Elvis in his prime touring in 1962 with maybe an Ed Sullivan appearance thrown in for promotion? Of course the Colonel didnt see the advantage money wise in any of this. Shame.
marty wrote on August 18, 2008
It should be noted that Elvis was actualy never really 'produced' when he went to RCA. Chet Atkins who was in charge didn't really understand (or maybe even appreciate) Rock 'n' Roll and did not contribute much to Elvis sessions. It was left to Elvis to decide what songs to record and most important HOW to record them. As an almost unknown artist in 1956, would he able to have this liberty at Atlantic? I am not really sure... Probably he made the best choice to move to RCA. As to when Elvis should have fired Parker, well it is easy to make a decision today, after the fact. For me Elvis should have fired Parker in the mid 70's. He came close but... Still he had such a remarkable career that we shouldn't really complain. Lets enjoy was we have. What would have happened if Sam Phillips had sent Elvis back home in 1954?
dressingroomrehearsa wrote on August 19, 2008
too bad there was no tour in 1962. professionally recorded this would have been a real gem. concerning the setlist from hawaii and memphis. it wasn't to be.
benny scott wrote on August 20, 2008
Marty: how right you are !!!. Fully agree . Always El.