NEW YORK, 14 December 2006â€” Ahmet Ertegun, Founding Chairman of Atlantic Records, passed away today in New York
City at the age of 83. He had been hospitalized
with a head injury since 29 October, when he fell backstage at
a Rolling Stones concert at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan.
Dr. Howard A. Riina, Mr. Ertegun's neurosurgeon at New York
Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center, 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."
Mr. Ertegun will be buried in a private ceremony in his
Turkey. A memorial service will be conducted in New York
"Ahmet never stopped working, because for
him, it was never work, it was life",
said Atlantic President Julie Greenwald in a statement to the press."He
changed the music and he changed the music business, and he is the
inspiration to an entire new generation of music people who will strive to
follow in his amazing footsteps. Equally at home in New Orleans juke
joints and foreign embassies, Ahmet was a human being of rare character,
style, and humility. He was the real deal, and the world will be a
far lesser place without him."
Born in Istanbul on 31 July 1923, Ahmet Ertegun moved to the United
States at the age of 12 when his father, renowned Turkish diplomat Mehmet
Munir Ertegun, became the Turkish ambassador to the United States.
Preparing for a potential diplomatic career, he majored in classical
philosophy at St. Johnâ€™s College and started his graduate work at
A passionate jazz fan and collector of African-American music, Ertegun borrowed $10,000 from his
dentist and founded Atlantic Records in New York City in the fall of
1947. He signed artists, produced records, wrote songs, and
supervised the fledgling label. As he said, "We started Atlantic
simply because we wanted to sign a few artists whose music we liked, and
make the kind of records that we would want to buy."
Under Ahmetâ€™s direction, Atlantic evolved from a groundbreaking,
independent R&B and jazz label into one of the worldâ€™s preeminent
music companies. The artists Ahmet discovered and the music he pioneered
led a revolution in R&B, soul, and rock music that reshaped the modern
cultural landscape â€“ forming a legacy that includes such seminal artists
as Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, LaVern Baker, The Clovers, The
Drifters, John Coltrane, Ben E. King, Bobby Darin, Sonny & Cher,
Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Solomon Burke, Wilson Pickett, Led
Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, The Rolling
Stones, Bette Midler, Roberta Flack, Phil Collins, and many others.
Ahmet was founder and Chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In recognition of his pioneering contributions to contemporary music and
culture, he was himself elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987, and the
Museumâ€™s main exhibition hall in Cleveland bears his name. In 1991
Ahmet received an honorary doctorate in music from the Berklee College of
Music in Boston, and in 1993 he was presented with a Trustees Award from
the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. In 2000, he
was honored as a "Living Legend" by the United States Library of Congress,
on the occasion of the Libraryâ€™s Bicentennial. In June 2006, he was
honored with the opening night concert at the 40th Montreux Jazz
Festival. Ertegun was also a member of the Board of Directors of
Jazz at Lincoln Center. He was also an avid collector of modern art and an
avid soccer fan. He never retired and remained active at Atlantic until
his death, serving as Founding Chairman of the company he started six