Trumpeter Wayne Jackson, half of famed Memphis Horns, dead at 74
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Trumpet player Wayne Jackson, who played standout horn lines on rock ‘n’ roll, soul, R&B and pop mainstays along with Memphis Horns partner and tenor saxophonist Andrew Love, has died. He was 74.
Amy Jackson said her husband died of congestive heart failure Tuesday night at a hospital with her by his side. Jackson had been hospitalized and released June 7 before taking a turn for the worse Monday night and being readmitted, she said.
“He led an incredible life, and he left an amazing music legacy,” Amy Jackson said.
Jackson and Love played on recordings by numerous top performers, including Otis Redding, Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond and U2.
Jackson and Love — the Memphis Horns — were awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in February 2012, only the second instrumental backup group in history to receive the honor at the time. According to his wife, in his acceptance speech, he said, “It’s been a dance of love between me and that trumpet.”
Love died in April 2012.
Love, who was black, and Jackson, who was white, played together on 52 No. 1 records and 83 gold and platinum records, according to Memphis-based Stax Records. Amy Jackson said her husband received his first gold record in 1961 and his last in 2005.
The duo backed up Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Otis Redding, Neil Diamond, Isaac Hayes, the Doobie Brothers, U2, Jack White, Alicia Keys and many other American pop music acts.
The Memphis Horns could sound wistful and romantic on one song, boisterous and up-tempo on another. They provided the horn tracks on dozens of well-known songs, including Redding’s “Dock of the Bay,” Franklin’s “Respect,” Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” Presley’s “Suspicious Minds,” Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man,” Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” Steve Winwood’s “Roll With It,” Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and U2’s “Angel of Harlem.”
Jackson was born in Memphis and raised across the Mississippi River in West Memphis, Arkansas.
On his website, he described the time when his mother gave him a trumpet at 11.
“I opened up the case, and it smelled like oil and brass. I loved that, so I put it together, blew, and out came a pretty noise,” he said.
Jackson said he first heard Love play at the Manhattan Club with the Willie Mitchell band.
“I knew we would be perfect together,” Jackson said after Love died. “He had a big tone and I had a big tone, and I knew that they would blend in the most natural, beautiful way.”
They were first paired together as part of the Stax Records’ Mar-Keys, which backed most of Stax’s catalog of artists. They played behind Redding, Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas and Carla Thomas, among others.
In 1969, Jackson and Love formed the Memphis Horns. Jackson later moved to Nashville and spent three years traveling with country music performer Marty Robbins, according to Jackson’s website.
In 2008, Jackson and Love were inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame. Jackson also wrote three books.
Funeral arrangements were pending.