Wayne Jackson, Memphis Horns Trumpeter, Dies at 74
By William Grimes
Andrew Love, left, and Wayne Jackson in 1965. Gilles Petard/Redferns
Wayne Jackson, a trumpet player who, with the tenor saxophonist Andrew Love, helped define the soul sound of Stax Records and, playing with Mr. Love as the Memphis Horns, provided backup on a long list of classic R&B and pop records, died on Tuesday in Memphis. He was 74.
The cause was congestive heart failure, his wife, Amy Jackson, said.
Mr. Jackson had his first gold record when he was still in high school, performing on the instrumental “Last Night” with the Mar-Keys. Released in 1961, it rose to No. 3 on the pop charts and was included on the first album issued by Stax, a label that helped create the Memphis sound in soul music.
As part of the house band at Stax, with Booker T. and the M.G.’s, the Mar-Keys played on records by Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd, Sam and Dave, Albert King, and Carla and Rufus Thomas.
At American Sound Studio in Memphis and FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., Mr. Jackson and Mr. Love performed with artists including Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and Percy Sledge.
After incorporating themselves in 1969 as the Memphis Horns, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Love became roving ambassadors of the Memphis sound, in constant demand by artists as varied as Elvis Presley, Al Green, Rod Stewart, Steve Winwood, Bonnie Raitt, U2 and Willie Nelson. At the 2012 Grammy Awards, when the Memphis Horns were presented with a lifetime achievement award, Neil Portnow, the president of the Recording Academy, called them “the breath of soul.”
Wayne Lamar Jackson was born on Nov. 24, 1941, in Memphis and grew up across the Mississippi River in West Memphis, Ark. He got his first trumpet when he was 11. “I opened up the case, and it smelled like oil and brass,” he wrote on his website. “I loved that, so I put it together, blew, and out came a pretty noise.”
In high school he began playing with the Royal Spades, an early version of the Mar-Keys, whose members included Steve Cropper, later the guitarist for Booker T. and the M.G.’s., and Charles Axton, known as Packy, a tenor saxophonist whose mother and uncle founded Stax.
When Mr. Axton left Stax in 1964, Mr. Jackson went to a local club to hear Mr. Love, who was playing with Willie Mitchell’s band.
“I knew we would be perfect together,” Mr. Jackson said in a statement released after Mr. Love died in 2012. “He had a big tone and I had a big tone, and I knew that they would blend in the most natural, beautiful way.”
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The two men played on nearly every record released by Stax. At American Sound Studio, operated by the producer Chips Moman, who died on June 13, they lent their one-two punch to Presley’s hits “In the Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds,” Dusty Springfield’s “Dusty in Memphis” album and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” Working with Mr. Mitchell at Hi Records, they played on the Al Green hits “Tired of Being Alone” and “Let’s Stay Together.”
The Memphis Horns toured and recorded with the Doobie Brothers, Robert Cray, Jimmy Buffett and Joe Cocker and recorded several of its own albums, including “The Memphis Horns” (1970) and “Flame Out” (1992).
Mr. Jackson’s first marriage ended in divorce. In addition to his wife, he is survived by a brother, Bruce; a sister, Sara Leaptrot; and four children, Carla Lee, Duane Jackson, Jennifer Jackson and Brittany Harris.
“Me and that trumpet had it all,” Mr. Jackson told American Blues Scene magazine in 2014. “That was my ticket. I punched that ticket and I rode that bus.”