Jerry Wexler, legendary head of Atlantic Records (with partner Ahmet Ertegun) from 1953 to 1975, has died at age 91 but he leaves behind a nearly unmatched legacy of R&B, pop, and rock music. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recognized his achievements when they inducted him in 1987 as one of the first non-performers.
Just to kick this tribute off — he’s also the guy who coined the term “Rhythm and Blues” when, as a staff writer for Billboard magazine, he wanted to replace “Race Music” as the header on the black music charts. His early collaborations with Ray Charles, Joe Turner, and The Coasters (among others) built a new foundation for American music. All of this music collaboration in the 50s and early 60s may have been a warm-up, however, for perhaps his greatest contribution to the music world — luring an un-empowered Aretha Franklin away from Columbia and introducing America to the “Queen of Soul” with “Respect” and a string of powerhouse hits from 1967 on.