AHMET ERTEGUN R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

December 15, 2006

ahmet-4.jpg

Jerry Wexler, Neshui Ertegun, Bobby Darin, and Ahmet Ertegun

AHMET ERTEGUN  7/3/23 – 12/14/06

When I started in the music business in 1960, Ahmet Ertegun was a already a mythical figure. In 1947, he and Herb Abramson, founded Atlantic Records and soon became a threat to all the Major labels. He built a roster of African-American artists including Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, the Clovers, Ray Charles, the Drifters, and the Coasters. As the company, grew he signed white pop artists, Bobby Darin, Vanilla Fudge, The Rascals, disco artists Archie Bell and the Drells, Chic, Sister Sledge as well as rock artists J. Geils band, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

Jerry Wexler, who as a Billboard magazine writer changed the name of the genre from “Race Records” to the more respectable Rhythm and Blues, became a partner with Ahmet and his brother Neshui. Together they turned their little record company into one of the major forces of the 20th Century! When they brought, the Muscle Shoals Sound and Stax distribution deal into the equation, Memphis Soul dominated the charts. During this period the combined the talents of Atlantic artist Wilson Pickett and Stax writer and producer Steve Cropper co-wrote and produced hits, “In The Midnight Hour” and”634-5789″. Steve also co-wrote some and produced most of the recordings of another Atlantic artist, Otis Redding, including,”(Sitting’ on the) Dock of the Bay”. Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd produced classic records by Aretha Franklyn and Dusty Springfield at Stax studios in Memphis Muscle Shoals studios using their musicians and songs in each location.

I had a lot of respect for Ahmet because he not only was head of a successful record company, he was a songwriter, “Don’t Play That Song” by Ben E. King and a producer, “Mack the Knife” by my mentor, Bobby Darin. He also had the unique ability, not only to actually listen to what a person was saying…but to make you feel like you were the only person in the world, at that particular moment. I remember being introduced to him by Quincy Jones at a party for Duke Ellington. Although he was surrounded by people all night and we only talked for a few minutes, at the the end of the evening he shook my hand and said, “Nice meeting you, Artie”. Wow! I met my personal hero and was validated…all in the same night!

I saw him again when he sold Atlantic to WEA, the same company that owned Warner Brothers Music, whom I worked for. I had the pleasure of being in charge of getting cover records on Progressive Music titles, which Atlantic owned, and Ahmet was more than happy to turn me onto his favorites, which included, Ray Charles’, “I Got A Woman” and “Hallelujah, I Love Her So”, which he also happened to produce!

Quincy was overbooked to score films, and asked me to help him get someone to do the music for “Come Back, Charleston Blue”, which was the sequel to Sam Goldwyn, Juniors’ highly successful Blaxploitation film, “Cotton Comes To Harlem”. He got me the job and screen credit of musical consultant. The first composer to come to mind was Atlanic artist Donny Hathaway, who was riding high with his first album and single, “The Ghetto”. So Donny, in his Kongol Cap and me in my “Superfly” hat, “bop” into a screening of the film and had a commitment from both Sam, Jr. and Donny as soon as the lights came back on!

I also suggested to Sam that I go to Atlantic Records in New York and find two or three singles by other top artists on the label that were about to be released and include them in the film, as well as the soundtrack album. Sam loved the idea, but not as much as Ahmet and Jerry! Ahmet played me product they were about to release and took me to sessions in progress, including Aretha Franklyn, as she recorded,”Angel”. This was an obvious hit to me and one of my first choices! It made me feel good that Aretha remembered me as the co-writer of “Here’s Where I Came In” (Raleigh/ Wayne), which was recorded on her first session at Columbia! Then producer Joel Dorn, invited me to hear the new sides he was mixing with Chart Topper, Roberta Flack and newcomer Bette Midler. Now I had a few more contenders!

When the film was finished, score done and all the songs I found were inserted into the soundtrack. As the tapes were being mastered, Donny Hathaway, who was prone to severe mood swings, had a sudden change of heart and insisted that only his music be used on the soundtrack! I was disappointed, but encouraged at the same time, when Ahmet called me to tell me how much he appreciated what I tried to do…and how he was looking forward to working with me again.

Although It never happened, I’ll never forget the kindness and encouragement he gave me when I needed it most.

Until we meet again, R.I.P. Rock In Perpetuity!

Respectfully, Artie Wayne

From my forthcoming book, “I Did It For A Song”
Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne

http://artiewayne.wordpress.com

BACK TO THE R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY ARCHIVES http://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2008/08/20/rip-rock-in-perpetuity-archives/

BACK TO ARTIE WAYNE ON THE WEB http://artiewayne.wordpress.com

About these ads

6 Responses to “AHMET ERTEGUN R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!”

  1. Mark Wirtz Says:

    A rock, a monument, a master builder is no longer with us, yet will live on as a legend….

    We won’t forget.

    Mark Wirtz

  2. JERRY ROSS Says:

    AHMET WAS TRULY ADMIRED AND LOOKED UP TO BY HIS PEERS.
    IN THE MIDST OF ONE OF MY MANY EARLY RECORD/MUSIC CAREERS, I WAS THE LOCAL PROMOTION MAN FOR ATLANTIC IN PHILLY..
    GETTING PERSONAL PHONE CALLS TO ME FROM AHMET THAT THE NEW DRIFTERS/ARRANGED WITH STRINGS BY STAN APPLEBAUM WILL BE A MONSTER HIT AND THAT I SHOULD PERSONALLY DELIVER IT TO JOCKO AND GEORGIE WOODS ASAP STANDS OUT IN MY MEMORIES AS ANOTHER ATLANTIC TREND SETTER.
    I PROUDLY PROMOTED ATLANTIC WITH IT’S NEWEST RELEASES.

  3. Stephen-Craig Ariistei Says:

    I never met Ahmet, but he took an Alan O’Day Song (Everyman Wants Another Man’s Woman” – A song that I believed was a “hit” – yet no producer would agree) and recorded it with Clearance Reed , had it released as a single on Atlantic Records and it hit the singles charts ! – (produced by Ahmet & Jerry Wexler) – The fact that Jerry Wexler had called me an arrogant shit and threw me out of his office when I played him the same song two weeks earlier always seemed strange….But, this was the record biz – and I felt totally vindicated ! I remember my boss Ed Silvers telling me that Ahmet was recording “….the song that he gotten from the kid at warners bros music with two first names (Stephen-Craig) !

    A year or so later and about 8 months after Billy Joel’s “Turnstiles” album had been released, Ahmet took my phone call one afternoon while I was in NY, sitting at a table at the Tavern On The Green with Elizabeth Joel, (at that time the wife and manager of Billy Joel).

    I had decided that Billy Joel was going to be a big star and and realized that CBS records was not doing anything to break him as an artist and concluded that I should “steal” him from CBS records and in the process of moving him to a new label, Warner Bros. Music would get his music publishing. I asked for a telephone to be brought to the table, and called Atlantic Records and asked for Ahmet, like I did it every day…(boy, was Elizabeth Joel impressed…..but not half as much as I was when Ahmet actually got on the line with me)! I asked him if he would be interested in signing Billy Joel, if he were free from CBS….to which he immediately answered “Yes, where do I sign” . I asked him to repeat what he had just said, with Elizabeth’s ear up close to the phone receiver and he did…..and that started a year long process to get Billy off the label, that resulted in lighting a fire under Walter Yetnakoff and the entire CBS staff….by time “The Stranger” album was released, our “coup” had failed, but Billy was on his way to the super stardom “status” he enjoys today.

    Ahmet is truly one of the “Last of the Greats” and one of the true “fathers of our industry”…his accomplishments have not only changed music, but formed the tastes of America…from Sonny & Cher to ther Buffalo Springfield, CSN&Y, The Iron Butterfly (All Green & Stone acts), to all the R&B, Jazz and Rock acts that Artie Wayne has mentioned…his presence will be missed….From the kid with two first names, RIP !

    Stephen-Craig Aristei

  4. Ken Shane Says:

    Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to discuss a band I manage with people at Atlantic Records. Although the deal never happened, it was a thrill to contemplate being associated with the label that Ahmet Ertegun founded. He was a giant in the music business, and his taste, class, and dignity will be sorely missed as the record business continues to try to regain its footing.

  5. barry oslander Says:

    THE MOMENT I HEARD AHMET ERTEGUN HAD PASSED AWAY FOUR WORDS FLASHED THROUGH MY MIND, GENTLEMAN AND THE STORK CLUB. AND HERE IS WHY.

    A VERY LONG TIME AGO, WHEN THE RECORD BUSINESS WAS CALLED THE RECORD BIZ AND WAS GROWING FROM THE LIKES OF NEW AND EXCITING MUSIC FROM RECORD LABELS CALLED MOTOWN, STAX AND ATLANTIC, THERE WAS A RECORDING STUDIO IN NEW YORK CITY AT 237 WEST 57th STREET CALLED BELL SOUND STUDIOS. AT BELL SOUND STUDIOS A PRODUCER COULD RECORD, MIX, REMIX AND MASTER HIS OR HER PRODUCTIONS WITHOUT LEAVING THE BUILDING… A FULL SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT FOR SURE. A DREAM OF A PLACE TO MAKE DREAMS COME TRUE.

    IN THE DAY THERE WAS ALWAYS A SECOND ENGINEER AT ALL RECORDING SESSIONS. THIS PERSON WAS CALLED A BUTTON PUSHER AND FOR GOOD REASON, NOT ONLY WAS IT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THIS PERSON TO SETUP THE STUDIO FOR RECORDING, MIKES, CHAIRS, ETC, PLUS… BE THE ONE WHO PUSHED THE RECORD BUTTONS ON THE RECORDERS AND NEVER TAKE HIS EYES OFF THE METERS AS TO ASSURE THE MACHINE WAS RECORDING THE DREAM ON ALL TRACKS.

    I WAS ONE OF THE FOUR BUTTON PUSHERS AT BELL SOUND FOR ABOUT A YEAR OR SO, A STUDIO WHERE AHMET RECORDED MANY ACTS FOR HIS LABELS AND IN TURN I WAS PRIVILEGED TO SEE HIM WORK AS A PRODUCER AND WITH OTHERS ON HIS STAFF. HE NEVER CAME TO THE STUDIO, NO MATTER WHAT TIME IT WAS, NOT BEING DRESSED TO THE NINES. HE ALWAYS SPOKE TO EVERYONE THE SAME WAY, NO MATTER HOW HIGH OR LOW THE PERSON WAS ON THE POLE OF IMPORTANCE IN THE CONTROL ROOM….A SIGN OF A TRUE GENTLEMAN.

    I DO REMEMBER HE WAS LATE FOR MOST RECORDING SESSIONS I WAS WORKING AND NEVER DID HE COME IN FLUSTERED, JUST TOOK HIS PRODUCER’S SEAT AND SAID, “SO HOW FAR HAVE YOU COME, AND LET’S HEAR IT” ….SO COOL …. SUCH A GENTLEMAN.

    AT THE END OF EVERY SESSION HE THANKED ALL THAT WORKED WITH HIM ONE AT A TIME AND LEFT THE STUDIO CONTROL ROOM… BUT HE ALSO LEFT AT EVERY SESSION A BLACK BOOK OF MATCHES, AND IF I REMEMBER RIGHT, WITH WHITE WRITING AND THE WORDS “THE STORK CLUB” UNDER A WHITE FLYING STORK BIRD.

    CAN YOU IMAGINE A KID FROM A MIDDLE CLASS BRONX FAMILY SEEING AND THEN HOLDING MATCHES FROM THE STORK CLUB, IT WAS LIKE FRODO FROM LORD OF THE RINGS FINDING THE GOLD RING. IT WAS MAGIC…. AND EVEN MORE, IT WAS BRAGGING RIGHTS THAT CAME WITH THE POSSESSION OF THOSE BLACK MATCHBOOKS LEFT BY A SUPER STAR PRODUCER, A PRODUCER WHO HAD ME DREAMING MY OWN DREAMS OF BEING JUST LIKE HE WAS AND WHERE HE WAS, RUNNING A RECORD COMPANY, PRODUCING HIT RECORDS AND MOST IMPORTANT BEING NICE TO ALL PEOPLE….WHAT A GREAT WAY TO WIN RESPECT. IT IS NO WONDER HIS RECORDING ARTISTS ALL LOVED HIM AS A FRIEND.

    I LEARNED A LOT. THANKS, AHMET, FOR THE LESSIONS AND THE MATCH BOOKS. AND KEEP THOSE HITS COMING IN ROCK AND ROLL HEAVEN.

    BARRY OSLANDER

  6. Mark Petty Says:

    A Tribute in Honor of Ahmet Ertegun:
    Entertainment World Mourns Music Pioneer, Record Company Founder

    http://tinyurl.com/yfmogm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers

%d bloggers like this: