Friday, November 13, 2009

Giving Jerry Wexler his due

On this day in 1968, Led Zeppelin was playing the odd show here and there in England as an unsigned band. They'd recorded an album but weren't yet ready to release it, not until they could acquire a suitable record contract.

Peter Grant ended up getting them signed to Atlantic Records, where they ended up working so closely with label cofounder Ahmet Ertegun that the only times Led Zeppelin publicly reunited in the past 24 years were to pay tribute to Atlantic Records and to Ertegun.

But Ahmet wasn't the one who signed Led Zeppelin. That feat actually goes to his partner at Atlantic, Jerry Wexler. As the band's confidant Phil Carson recalled in an exclusive interview for the U.S. radio show "Get the Led Out" conducted earlier this year:
"Jerry signed the band. Later, they changed the name to Led Zeppelin. Jerry never got involved in the production of the group or really had anything to do with them after that. He handed them over to Ahmet Ertegun because he knew that Ahmet was the guy who could move it to the next level. Of course, Ahmet was Jerry's partner and really his boss at that time, and it was the right thing to do, to put this fantastic band to the right level at the company."
Wexler passed away in August 2008, one year and eight months after Ertegun died. Now, they are presumably together at the big record label in the sky.

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