Death of Founding Chairman of Atlantic Records Marks End Of Era
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 October 29, 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 native Turkey. A memorial service will be conducted in New York after the New Year.
One of the most important figures in the history of modern music, Ahmet Ertegun was born in Istanbul, Turkey on July 31, 1923. The son of the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, Ahmet was raised and educated in Switzerland, Paris, London, and Washington, D.C.
A passionate music fan and collector, he 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.
Under Ahmet’s direction, Atlantic evolved into one of the world’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 – 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 Museum’s main exhibition hall in Cleveland bears his name.
In 2000, he was honored as a “Living Legend” by the United States Library of Congress, on the occasion of the Library’s Bicentennial. In June 2006, he was honored with the opening night concert at the 40th Montreux Jazz Festival. He never retired and remained active at Atlantic until his death, serving as Founding Chairman of the company he started six decades ago.