From email@example.com@21:1/5 to All on Tue Jun 21 21:35:22 2016
Trumpeter Wayne Jackson was part of the famed Memphis Horns, a member of the influential R&B group the Mar-Keys, and a key cog in the Stax Records machine throughout the 1960s.
Jackson died Tuesday night from congestive heart failure at Methodist University Hospital. He was 74.
His wife of 25 years, Amy Jackson, confirmed the news to The Commercial Appeal.
Along with saxophonist Andrew Love, Jackson made his early reputation as part of the house unit at Stax. He and Love later struck out on their own, billing themselves as the Memphis Horns, working with local institutions like Hi Records and American
Studios, and eventually becoming the most in-demand horn section in the world.
The pair was essential in providing parts for hit records by Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, James Taylor, and U2, among many others. The duo would be recognized with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in early 2012. Love died later that year at the age of
In a statement posted to Jackson's Facebook page, Amy Jackson said of her husband, "He was a beautiful soul who touched the world with his trumpet. As we mourn his passing, we also celebrate his incredible musical legacy, which he leaves us with. God
gave him a gift, and he used it to the fullest… He loved his family, his friends and his fans the world over."
"For all the decades he played, he never lost the joy in the music," said Robert Gordon, author of the Stax Records history "Respect Yourself." "You could always hear his delight, and I think that's part of what made all those songs he played on into the
hits they became."
Born in Memphis in November 1941, Jackson's path to music started in the clubs of West Memphis, where he was raised, then at the University of Stax, as it were, where he became part of the foundation of the iconic soul label, and a member of the hit-
making instrumental group the Mar-Keys.
In 1965, Mar-Keys/Stax saxophonist Packy Axton left the label fold, forcing Jackson to find a new horn section partner. "We didn't have a tenor (sax) player, and they weren't just hanging around, you had to know where to go get one," recalled Jackson in
a 2012 interview. "Somebody told me there was a real good young saxophone player at the Manhattan Club. I went out there and I saw Andrew; he knocked me out."
The next day, the two men played together for the first time, cutting a Rufus Thomas record. "It was like magic," said Jackson. "It was fate."
It did almost seemed destined that the two men would find each other. They were born just days apart; each had their first horns purchased for them by their mothers; and music was the clear path from the start. On the surface the two seemed a study in
contrasts: Jackson, a short, white spitfire on trumpet; Andrew Love a lanky, laid-back African-American on sax. But the music they made together yielded a beautiful union. "His individual tone and mine blended in a certain way that was unique," said
Jackson. "We realized it from the start."
Jackson and Love soon became musical partners, friends, and eventually grew to be like brothers. "You got to remember too, that was way back yonder, so it wasn't the usual thing for a black guy and white guy to be hanging out, running together like that,"
said Jackson. "But we did. We were sorta welded at the hip. We loved each other, and loved the way we sounded."
"There were ingredients at Stax that made it a magical place and those ingredients encompassed several individuals, black and white," said Stax songwriter and producer David Porter. "Color was never a part of any of the great things that were done at
Stax. The universal love we had for each other was way beyond any superficial differences like that. And Wayne was a symbol of that. Not only was he a great player, he was a great person. He had so much love in him."
Although Stax wanted Jackson and Love to stay exclusive to the label, in 1969 they incorporated as The Memphis Horns, and went freelance. For the next 30 years they would become the pre-eminent set of horns in popular music.
They were among a group of players whose brass sounds would help define classic records including Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds," Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" and Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man." In
total they played on 80 gold and platinum albums and 52 No. 1 records during the course of their career.
Later they hit the road, touring with Rod Stewart, Stephen Stills, the Doobie Brothers, Jimmy Buffett, Joe Cocker and Robert Cray, among others. As the '80s and '90s rolled on, they continued to color hits for the likes of Willie Nelson and Steve Winwood.
Even after Jackson decided to relocate to Nashville in 1996, they remained in demand — recording with Sting, Bonnie Raitt and Marc Knopfler — helping bring the soul out of everyone with whom they worked. "That's what people were hiring us for,"
Jackson would say. "And they all got a little Memphis on them." Jackson and Love continued to play and perform together until 2004, when Love was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and was forced to retire from music.
In 2010, Jackson and his wife returned to Memphis. During the final decade of his life, Jackson was a regular presence at the Stax Museum, giving tours and working with the students of the Stax Music Academy and other school bands in the city. He also
wrote a three-volume memoir of his life in music called "In My Wildest Dreams."