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ahmet ertegun

Ahmet Ertegun

b. 31st July 1923, Istanbul, Turkey.

d. 15th December 2006, New York, U.S.A.

Ahmet Ertegun was the son of the Turkish Ambassador to Washington, U.S.A.

He moved to New York when his father died in 1944.

He was a philosophy graduate and was drawn towards a musical career via his love of jazz and blues.

With friend and colleague Herb Abramson, he founded two labels, Quality and Jubilee before instigating Atlantic Records in 1947.

His older brother, also a co-founder, Nesuhi Ertegun, died on 15th April 1989.

Early releases featured recordings by jazz artists Errol Garner and Tiny Grimes, however Ertegun adopted a more R & B based sound.

The label enjoyed its first hit with Granville 'Stick' McGhee's 'Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee', which Ertegun produced.

He continued to fufill that role when Jerry Wexler arrived at Atlantic.

The pair were responsible for early releases on Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters, including 'Money Honey' and 'Such A Night'.

Ahmet was also a proficiant songwriter, penning 'Chains Of Love' & Sweet Sixteen', the first two hits for 1949 signing Big Joe Turner.

During the 50's Atlantic signed Ray Charles and Bobby Darin.

Ertegun and Wexler produced Ray Charles together, while Ahmet took sole charge for Darin, notably on his first hit, 'Splish Splash'.

The label was quick to recognise the long-player format and Ertegun passed responsibility for transferring 78's to the new medium, onto his older brother, Neshui.

The Coasters and the Drifters helped Atlantic endure throughout the Fifties.

Ahmet ErtegunAhmet Ertegun

By 1965 he assisted producer / songwriter Bert Berns in establishing the Bang label.

Although Jerry Wexler is credited with shaping Atlantic's mid-60's policies, in particular its arrangements with Stax and Fame, Ahmet signed white 'southern-styled' acts Dr. John, Delaney And Bonnie and Jessie Davis to the label.

Ahmet was by now broadening the musical appeal of Atlantic, embracing several rock based artists along with the Soulful stalwarts that comprised the base of the label.

Ertegun brought Sonny And Cher to the company, who scored a huge international hit with 'I Got You Babe', which became one of the best selling singles of 1965.

That same year he launched the (Young) Rascals, who accumulated 17 U.S. Top 20 hits until leaving for Columbia in 1969.

Meanwhile, another Ahmet acquisition, Vanilla Fudge, found success with their re-arrangements of popular songs, notably 'You Keep Me Hanging On'.

He introduced Neil Young and Stephen Stills to the public via Buffalo Springfield, who attained a sizeable hit with 'For What It's Worth' and won critical acclaim for three subsequent albums.

When the band went their seperate ways, David Crosby and secured a release for the Hollies' Graham Nash.

A resultant 'supergroup', Crosby, Stills And Nash, became one of the era's leading attractions.

Another Ertegun signing, Iron Butterfly, did not receive the same critical acclaim, but 'In A Gadda Da Vida' was, for a period, the biggest-selling album in history.

Ertegun's vision soon became focussed upon U.K. acts.

A licensing agreement with Polydor ensured Atlantic had first option on its British roster.

He took the Bee Gees and Cream under his wing, as well as the solo careers of the latter's ex-members following their split.

Eric Clapton proved an important recruit.

Ertegun then signed Led Zeppelin directly to U.S. Atlantic.

He then acquired the rights to the soundtrack of the up-and-coming Woodstock Festival, and in 1970, Ahmet persuaded the Rolling Stones that Atlantic was the natural home for their own record label.

Things seemed to be going well, however, in 1967 Ertegun and Wexler allowed Warner Brothers to purchase Atlantic stock in return for an executive position in the new label WEA, with the acquisition of Elektra.

Although Ertegun had remained at his label's helm, he pursued other interests and a passion for soccer led to his becoming a director of the New York Cosmos, to which he attracted such soccer superstars such as Pele and Franz Beckenbauer.

Ahmet Ertegun

After a long illness, Ahmet Ertegun died in New York. He was 83.

'He was in a coma and expired today with his family at his bedside,' said Dr. Howard A. Riina, Ertegun's neurosurgeon at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Although he was slowed by triple-bypass surgery in 2001, he still went into his office on a daily basis.

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