Ahmet Ertegün
Ahmet Ertegün, 1940
Ahmet Ertegün
Ahmet Ertegün, 1962
Ahmet Ertegün
Ahmet Ertegün, May 14, 1988
Ahmet Ertegün
Ahmet Ertegün, May 8, 2006

Record Label Executive

Atlantic founder Ahmet Ertegün was introduced to Jazz and R&B at a young age, and together with his brother Nesuhi, eventually amassed a collection of some 20,000 Jazz and Blues recordings. Ertegün formed a partnership with Herb Abramson of National Records and, with $10,000 borrowed from his dentist, launched Atlantic Records in 1947.

As Atlantic grew from literally a one-room operation into one of the most successful music companies in the world, the label released recordings that have had profound effects on the course of modern music.

Ahmet Ertegün, co-chair and co-CEO of the Atlantic Group, holds the distinction of being the longest-standing record label founder still at the helm of his company.

Atlantic released its first singles in 1948, and scored its first hit in 1949 with Stick McGhee's "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee." Then came artists like Professor Longhair, Big Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, and Ray Charles-and the label was a fully established success.

In 1955 Ahmet's brother Nesuhi joined Atlantic and made a series of records by the likes of Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and Charles Mingus.

By the mid-1950s, producer Jerry Wexler had joined Atlantic as Ertegün's partner, and with the help of The Coasters, LaVern Baker, and Clyde McPhatter And The Drifters, the predominantly R&B label helped usher in Rock 'n Roll.

The Coasters were one of the first Black vocal groups to cross over to the largely white Rock 'n Roll audiences, and in 1958, Bobby Darin's "Splish Splash" established Atlantic's place in the Pop market. In the 1960s, with the popularization of Black music, Atlantic went back to its roots with Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, and Aretha Franklin. But Atlantic didn't ignore the world of white Rock 'n Roll either, signing Cream; Led Zeppelin; Crosby, Stills and Nash; and The Rolling Stones.

Sold in 1967 to Warner Communications, Atlantic continued its concentration on Rock 'n Roll. Today, Atlantic is still helping us define and express ourselves with the music of artists such as Tori Amos, Collective Soul, Hootie And The Blowfish, Lil' Kim, and Jewel.

A long-standing member, Atlantic has positively influenced NARM since the early '60s. The Ertegün brothers, Ahmet and Nesuhi, were jointly recognized with the NARM Presidential Award in 1973.

"When I first started the label, I thought we'd make records for two or three years and that would be it," Ertegün said. "We never imagined we would be able to make a real living out of doing what we loved so much."

This is from an interview he did in Performance magazine.

"What were your impressions on signing Led Zeppelin to Atlantic Records?"

"We were very, very hot on the group from the beginning because we both knew the excellence of the playing of Both Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. We were very happily surprised with the other musicians because they were equally great. Robert Plant is certainly one of the outstanding singers in the history of rock 'n' roll. He's a scholar of rock 'n' roll and blues music. He probably knows it better than anyone I know - the whole library of rock and roll music."

"What do you remember about first seeing Zeppelin perform?"

"We had already signed them. They were the most dynamic band I had ever seen. They had a presence on stage like no other. They were very different from The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles or Cream - the big British groups that preceded them. They had a mystique, an aura all to themselves. They didn't do interviews. They didn't want any singles released from their albums. They weren't interested in television. Plus there were their antics on the road, some of which, but not all, were exaggerated. They look back at those days with sentimentality, nostalgia for a different time and period when crazy things were going on. The late 60s and 70s were very different times, the time of revolution, of revolutionary ideas. Young people revolted against traditional establishment values. They were in the forefront of that, always on the cutting edge.

The music they made had sorrow, pathos, happiness and a great deal of love."

"How would you characterise Jimmy Page and Robert Plant as people?"

"They are dissimilar - two totally different people - each a personality upon themselves. They have their own characteristics, sensitivities, opinions and way of life.

Robert is more outgoing, outspoken and has a dynamic personality. He's very charming. He has a really flamboyant personality on and off stage. He's thoughtful and sensitive.

Jimmy Page is quieter with more of an artistic temperament. He is deeply thoughtful, has a sweet personality, is very friendly and has a great musical inspiration, which is reflected in his character. He has the soul of an artist, sometimes unpredictable.

They both love to have a good time- their one common trait - and I have a great time with them both.

One night in Barbados we went to a nightclub with a whole group of friends. Later, some people dropped out, and there were just a few of us, including Jimmy. We went to a nightclub for locals, not tourists, that had a little reggae band. I asked Jimmy if he felt like sitting in and he said that he would love to. We went over to this band, and this was at the very height of Led Zeppelin's popularity, and I said that this was Jimmy Page. They sort of nodded and said, "So what?" I said, "You know Led Zeppelin?" They didn't know who Led Zeppelin were. Jimmy said, "Can I borrow your guitar and play a little bit?" The guy said "No man! I don't lend my guitar to nobody man!" We finally got them to let Jimmy play a little bit, and, of course, they were astounded. They never heard anybody play guitar like he did. Nobody in the world plays like Jimmy does."

"Do you have a favourite Led Zeppelin concert?"

"Oh God! My favourite Led Zeppelin concert was a rehearsal to which they weren't allowing anybody in the theatre (Hammersmith Odeon) in London. One day, their manager called and said: "The boys have agreed to let you and your friends (I was going out and having dinner with some friends) come and listen to the rehearsal." That was a great thing. My friends were beside themselves. They couldn't believe they were actually going to see Led Zeppelin. There was nobody else there except the crew. They said we could come up and sit on the stage. They put me right in front of the blasting speakers. I had jet lag. I stayed up the night before and hadn't slept. I had several drinks before dinner before going there. Right in the middle of the third song, I fell asleep. I dozed off and apparently was snoring a little bit. Robert put the microphone right in front of my nose and that's when I woke up."

"What are your memories of Peter Grant?"

"That's a book. One of his artists said to me "He must be the cleanest person in the world because whenever anyone called, they would say 'Oh, Mr Grant is in the bathroom. He'll call you when he gets out."

We all loved him. He redefined the meaning of management. He gave Led Zeppelin their mystique, their aura, what they believed in. He was a wonderful man, but toward the end of Led Zeppelin, he became a bit difficult. He was the best manager around."

From Narm.com - Thanks to Knebby

On October 29, 2006, Ertegün attended a Rolling Stones benefit concert in New York City, when he tripped and fell, hitting his head on the concrete floor. He was rushed to the hospital and slipped into a coma and eventually died on December 14, 2006. He was buried 4 days later, next to his brother, father and great-grandfather in Sultantepe, Üsküdar, Istanbul.

A memorial service was held in New York City on April 17, 2007, and performers included Wynton Marsalis, Eric Clapton and Dr John, Stevie Nicks and Phil Collins. Another service was held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California on Jul 31, 2007.

On December 10, 2007, the Ahmet Ertegün Tribute Concert was held to raise money for the Ahmet Ertegün Education Fund, which pays for university scholarships in the United States, England and Turkey. It was held at the O2 Arena in London, England and included performances by Paolo Nutini, Mick Jones of Foreigner, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings and Led Zeppelin.


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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

January 09, 1944 - James Patrick Page was born in Heston, Middlesex
January 03, 1946 - John Baldwin was born in Sidcup, Kent
January 02, 1946 - Led Zeppelin Tour Manager Richard Cole was born in Kensal Rise, London, England
January 05, 1967 - Jimmy Page begins recording Little Games with The Yardbirds at De Lane Lea Studios in London.
January 17, 1969 - Led Zeppelin released in the US
January xx, 1970 - Led Zeppelin now play without support acts in order to perform longer sets
January 09, 1970 - Royal Albert Hall gig filmed and recorded for documentary that is eventually scraped. (But was recalled for 2003’s DVD)
January xx, 1971 - Recording continues at Headley Grange
January xx, 1972 - Page has a studio built into his home
January 02, 1973 - Plant’s car breaks down and Bonham and he barely make the Sheffield City Hall gig
January 22, 1973 - Led Zeppelin record a live gig at Southampton University
January xx, 1974 - Recording Physical Graffiti at Headley Grange
January xx, 1974 - The band resigns with Atlantic and forms their own label
January 03, 1975 - Jimmy breaks a finger at Victoria Station just a week before the European warm up shows
January 17, 1975 - The band rehearses in Minneapolis for the upcoming US tour. Bootleg "Johnny Kidd And The Pirates" evolves out of this rehearsal
January xx, 1976 - Jimmy contemplates the release of The Song Remains The Same film but, continues work on the soundtrack
January 01, 1976 - In Paris, Robert takes his first unaided steps since his car accident
January xx, 1977 - Rehearsals for US tour take place at Manticore Studios in Fulham
January 24, 1977 - Bonham and Plant watch The Damned perform at the Roxy in London
January xx, 1978 - Media still claims Led Zeppelin have broke up
January 21, 1979 - Robert Plant is now proud father to son Logan Romero
January xx, 1980 - Zeppelin donate Candy Store Rock to a benefit album to benefit children
January 31, 1995 - Jimmy Page escaped being knifed when a fan rushed the stage at a Page and Plant gig at Auburn Hills, Michigan. The fan was stopped by two security guards, who he knifed instead. After his arrest, he told police that he wanted to kill Jimmy Page because of the Satanic music he was playing.
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