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Mark Anthony Neal

(b Chicago, IL, Jan 8, 1967). American R&B singer, writer, producer, and arranger. Kelly was born on the South side of Chicago. Raised, with his three siblings, by a single mother, he was encouraged to pursue a musical career by his high school music teacher and mentor, Lena McLin, who was the chair of the music department at the Kenwood Academy and the niece of the legendary gospel music composer Thomas Dorsey. In high school Kelly formed the group MGM (Musically Gifted Men), which won a $100,000 grand prize on the television talent show Big Break, hosted by Natalie Cole. The group eventually signed with Jive Records, though after creative and financial tensions, three of the members were replaced and the group renamed R. Kelly and Public Announcement. After a moderately successful debut that produced the hit singles “She’s Got That Vibe” and “Honey Love,” Kelly left the group in early ...

Article

John Rockwell

revised by Andrea F. Bohlman

(b Brooklyn, NY, May 14, 1947). American rock critic, record producer, and manager. While a history student at Brandeis University (BA 1969) he was the main critic for Crawdaddy! (1966–7) and contributed a regular full-page column to Rolling Stone (1967–9). After graduating, he made his first attempts at record production with the MC5 and Livingston Taylor. In 1970 he returned to criticism, first for the Boston Phoenix (1970–2) and then the Real Paper (1972–5). From 1971 he was recordings editor for Rolling Stone, leaving rock criticism in 1975. In 1972 he had already published a collection of his writings. Landau’s authoritative style is direct in its assessment. His knowledge of rock history and his penchant for technical explanation contributed to his tremendous influence on rock’s development. Landau’s longtime association with Bruce Springsteen began in 1974 when he notably described the artist’s “rock and roll future” in the ...

Article

Rob Bowman

(b New York, NY, Jan 10, 1917; d Sarasota, FL, Aug 15, 2008). American music journalist, producer, and record executive. After graduating with a degree in journalism from Kansas State University in 1946, Wexler got a job at the music industry trade magazine, Billboard. In a 1949 article for Billboard Wexler coined the phrase “rhythm and blues” to replace “race music” as the umbrella term for the new forms of black popular music that came to prominence immediately after World War II.

In 1953, Wexler became a partner in Atlantic Records, alongside Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun, building the label into an industry powerhouse over the next 20 years. With Nesuhi handling most of the company’s jazz releases, Ahmet and Jerry supervised/produced sessions with the cream of 1950s R&B artists including Ray Charles, Professor Longhair, Big Joe Turner, LaVern Baker, and the Drifters.

In 1960, Wexler made a deal with the Memphis-based Stax Records to distribute their recordings. Over the next eight years, this meant that Atlantic distributed records by Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, Albert King, William Bell, and Eddie Floyd, among others. In a unique arrangement, in ...