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AHMET ERTEGUN

MIDEM 1998 MAN OF THE YEAR


In 1948, he created ATLANTIC RECORDS, with very few resources; his objective was to produce a good record which would be played on the radio. ATLANTIC RECORDS released its first singles in 1948 and enjoyed its first hit in 1949 with Stick McGhee's "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee". Artists such as Professor Longhair, The Clovers, Big Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, Ray Charles, Clyde McPhaller and The Drifters were to follow as stars on the ATLANTIC label. In the early-Fifties, Jerry Wexler and Nesuhi Ertegun teamed up with Ahmet and, together, they built ATLANTIC RECORDS into the leading Rhythm & Blues label. Ahmet did not limit himself to directing the company, but was involved in producing, recording and writing numerous songs, including "Don't Play that Song", "Chains of Love", "Sweet Sixteen" and "Mess Around". His brother, Nesuhi, took the reins of the label's jazz activities and made a series of historic recordings by artists such as The Modern Jazz Quartet, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Charlie Mingus and Herbie Mann. "Nesuhi was a great man and my greatest influence", Ahmet declared, when his brother died in 1989.

In the mid-Fifties, the music industry underwent a great deal of change; ATLANTIC RECORDS not only kept pace, but often led the way and was instrumental in introducing white Rock & Roll audiences to black vocal music. In the Sixties, when other labels were adopting a more Pop-orientated sound, ATLANTIC RECORDS reversed the trend and returned music to its roots, recording such soul greats as Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, Sam & Dave, King Curtis and, above all, Aretha Franklin produced by Jerry Wexler and Arif Mardin. ATLANTIC RECORDS' groundbreaking developments in rock were just as astounding, with stars such as Cream, Buffalo Springfield, LedZeppelin, The Bee Gees, Yes, King Crimson and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young all recording for ATLANTIC RECORDS.

In 1967, Ahmet sold the company to WARNER-SEVEN ARTS (today TIME WARNER), but remained as CEO and maintained artistic control of the label. In 1971, he signed The Rolling Stones, thus creating an association that was to last 14 years. Mick Jagger, a close friend of Ahmet, continues to record for ATLANTIC RECORDS as a solo artist. During the Seventies and Eighties, ATLANTIC RECORDS continued toconcentrate on two main veins of music, Rock & Roll and Soul, signing artists such as Roberta Flack, The Allman Brothers, ABBA, AC/DC, Foreigner, Chic, The Blues Brothers, Genesis, INXS, Pete Townshend and Phil Collins. More recently, ATLANTIC RECORDS has produced the artists: Tori Amos, Jewel (who has remained at the top of the US album charts for over 90 weeks), Brandy, Hootie and The Blowfish, Matchbox 20, Aaliyah, Sugar Ray, The Corrs, Stone Temple Pilots, Jody Watley, Donna Lewis,Everything But The Girl and Collective Soul, proving that ATLANTIC RECORDS is alive and kicking and, indeed, a force to be reckoned with. More>>>

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Texas Music Magazine   Vol. 10  No. 1  January 2001

 

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