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Andrew Love: Saxophonist extraordinaire, Stax legend, ‘a positive spirit’

  • Written by Tri-State Defender Newsroom

Packed venues and multiple expressions of appreciation were not unfamiliar to saxophonist extraordinaire Andrew Maurice Love. They were accent marks in a storied musical career.

Special to The New Tri-State Defender

Packed venues and multiple expressions of appreciation were not unfamiliar to saxophonist extraordinaire Andrew Maurice Love. They were accent marks in a storied musical career.

Courtesy photos

This week, Mr. Love once again is the object of such expressions and the reason so many will visit Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church at 555 Vance Avenue. The Stax Records and Memphis Horns saxophonist died on the evening of April 12 at his home in Memphis. His death was associated with complications from Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 70.

On Friday (April 20) at 6 p.m., a memorial service for Mr. Love will get underway at Mt. Nebo, with visitation beforehand, beginning at 3 p.m. At 11 a.m. on Saturday, funeral services will be held at the church, with burial in Memorial Park Cemetery.

Mr. Love is best known for his work at Stax Records and later with trumpeter Wayne Jackson as The Memphis Horns. The two were awarded the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award in February. They were only the second instrumental sidemen group in history to garner the honor, after Motown’s the Funk Brothers.

“Stax Records may never have enjoyed the success it achieved without Andrew and Wayne because it was their horn lines that helped create what has become known as the Memphis Sound,” said Stax Museum spokesman Tim Sampson.

“He was a kind, talented man who lived a fascinating and very important life and made a difference in the world in many ways,” said Sampson. “Our thoughts are with his wife Willie and his entire family, as well as with Wayne and Amy Jackson and Andrew’s millions of fans.”

Jackson and Love met at Stax Records in 1962. Jackson had grown up across the river in West Memphis and had been playing all over the country with the Mar-Keys, Stax Records’ first house band that gave the label its first million-selling record, “Last Night.” Love had grown up playing in his father’s church band in Memphis, and was already working regularly at Willie Mitchell’s Hi Records. The pairing of Jackson and Love as part of the Stax house Mar-Key Horns started not only a love affair between the sounds of their brass, but it also began friendship closer than most brothers ever experience. (They were born just three days apart in Memphis).

From the beginning, Jackson and Love played on almost every Stax record that included horns, which was almost every Stax record. They helped build the mom-and-pop label into the multimillion-dollar company it became by adding their unique sound, which was very important because Stax usually used horns instead of backup singers.

Hand in hand with house band Booker T. & the MGs, Jackson and Love backed the likes of Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Isaac Hayes, and almost every other artist who walked through the doors. They were an integral part of the band that traveled on the famed 1967 Stax/Volt European Tour and helped back Otis Redding with Booker T. & the MGs at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival, the first rock and roll festival ever held.

When the company began to expand in 1969, the two incorporated as The Memphis Horns and went out on their own. And when they did, the musical world became their oyster. They became what many critics have described as the greatest horn section in music history.

The list of artists with whom they performed and recorded reads like the most prestigious list of who’s who in the music business: Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewart, The Doobie Brothers, Stephen Stills, Joe Cocker, Bonnie Raitt, Sting, Peter Gabriel, U2, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Billy Joel, Steve Winwood, Robert Cray, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, James Taylor, and dozens of others who called on the men with the magic horns to add a little Memphis soul to a wide variety of projects that helped shape rock-and-roll as we know it. To date, the two have performed on 52 Number One records, 116 Top Ten records, 83 Gold & Platinum records and 15 Grammy winners.

“Andrew Love lived and continues to live in those of us who worked with him and knew him as a positive spirit,” said former Stax Records owner Al Bell. “Andrew Love was one of the architects of the Memphis music sound. For it was and is the uniquely passionate and melodic Memphis horned lines and sounds that make Memphis music unique.

“It became even sweeter for us at Stax when the Memphis horns through Andrew and others became the part of building the Stax sound,” said Bell. “Despite his long illness, that free positive spirit that was in him remained constant. He continued to uplift and attract all of us to him throughout the time he endured illness. That spirit is what you hear in his music. We will always remember Andrew Love, his artistic works will never let us forget him.”

Booker T. Jones of Booker T. & the MGs said, “Something like a quiet big brother to me at Porter Junior High, Booker T. Washington High, and Stax, Andrew’s death marks the true end of a tenor sax dynasty. I will miss his smile.”

Mr. Love retired in 2000.

He was preceded in death by one sister, Francis Green and one brother, Eugene Love. He leaves his loving wife, Willie Love; two sons, Vincent Thompson and Andre’ Love; two daughters, Terry Lawrence (Gregory) and Angela Love Parker; eight grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, host of nieces, nephews, one sister-in-law, five brothers-in-law, cousins and friends.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or Methodist Hospice Foundation.

Joe Ford Funeral Home has charge.


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