In thinking about the impact of our AOM Gerald Levert, I wanted to dedicate a little space to something that I don’t think gets a lot of attention when you think of his legacy. We know the hits: The early work with LeVert, the solo work, the side projects, LSG… but today I wanted to focus on Gerald’s overall musical impact and how he was at the center of a very interesting occurrence at a record label that was seminal in the history of Black Music from the Rock Era forward.
Founded in 1947 by Ahmet Ertegun, Herb Abramson and Miriam Abramson, Atlantic had its first hit in 1949 with Stick McGhee’s “Drinking Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee” which sold 400,000 copies and hit #3 on the newly christened Billboard R&B charts (christened by a writer at Billboard at the time who at first thought he should rename the “Race Record” chart “Cat Music” instead of Rhythm Blues. That writer was none other than Jerry Wexler who would shortly become an important figure in the development of Atlantic into a powerhouse of R&B.) From that first success came other discoveries in the 1950′s Ruth Brown, Ray Charles groups like the Clovers and on and on. (more…)