Andrew Love, the tenor saxophonist who made his mark on hundreds of recordings as half of the Memphis Horns, died on Thursday at the age of 70, the Los Angeles Times reports. His wife, Willie, says that he died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, which he had been suffering from for more than ten years.
Along with his partner, trumpet player Wayne Jackson, Love helped bring the “Memphis Sound” to recordings by a huge range of artists including Aretha Franklin, Wilson Picket, Elvis Presley, Isaac Hayes, U2, and Neil Young. The Memphis Horns’ melancholy wail signals the opening bars of Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” and they added the brassy punch to Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man.”
Over the course of their partnership, Love and Jackson played on 30 Grammy-winning songs, 52 Number One hits, and 113 Top Ten singles. In February, the Memphis Horns became only the second group of backing musicians ever to win a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys. (The first was Motown’s Funk Brothers.)
Love was born in Memphis in 1941, the son of a church organist and a Baptist minister. He grew up playing saxophone in the gospel band at his father’s church and, after attending college in Oklahoma, starting working as a session musician back in Memphis. He met Jackson at Stax Records in the mid-1960s, and the two worked together until 2004, when Love retired.
“Stax Records would not have become what it became without them,” Stax co-owner Al Bell told the Los Angeles Times on Friday. “I love saxophone players, and I have many saxophone players I admire and hold in high esteem. But I have never heard a saxophone player who affects and penetrates me like Andrew Love. It was the spirit in him, and you could feel it in the music. He could arouse your deepest emotions, but he would do it gently, softly. It was like he was making love to your soul.”
Love’s funeral will be held on April 21st at the Mt. Nebo Baptist Church, where his father was a minister.