December 14, 2006
Ahmet Ertegun, Founder of Atlantic Records, Dies
LOS ANGELES, Dec 14 (Reuters) – Ahmet Ertegun, a Turkish immigrant whose obsession with America’s black music inspired him to launch Atlantic Records and the careers of acts ranging from Ray Charles to Aretha Franklin, died in New York on Thursday, the record label said. He was 83.
Atlantic, a unit of Warner Music Group Corp. (NYSE:WMG) , said his death came after he suffered brain injuries in a fall in October at a Rolling Stones concert.
Ertegun, a tireless socialite and dealmaker who kept his ears open for the latest new sounds up to the very end, had been in a coma at Weill Cornell Medical Center since the fall.
Dr. Howard A Riina, Ertegun’s neurosurgeon said, “Mr. Ertegun suffered a severe brain injury after he fell in October. He was in a coma and passed away today with his family at his bedside.”
His 60-year career was unrivaled in both its longevity and depth. Along the way, the bald, goateed bon vivant became something of a superstar himself: he cut a dashing figure in the world’s finest ballrooms and seediest nightclubs.
One night, he would hobnob with high-powered friends like Henry Kissinger and David Geffen in his aristocratic accent. The next, he would relate unprintable anecdotes to impressionable young rock stars he was trying to sign to the label, outdrinking them in the process.
Atlantic’s roster reads like a primer on popular culture: Professor Longhair, Big Joe Turner, the Drifters, Led Zeppelin, Otis Redding (who called him “omelet”), Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, Cream, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Dusty Springfield, Genesis, AC/DC, the Bee Gees, Bette Midler, the Allman Brothers Band, Eric Clapton, the Three Tenors, Hootie and the Blowfish.