Another little piece of the music industry as we once knew it (read: back in the ’70s) is lost forever with the passing of Ahmet Ertegun, founder of the once great Atlantic Records, who died on December 14th, 2006. Ertegun was 83 years old. In an added note of poignancy, he had been in a coma for weeks after injuring his head in a fall at a Rolling Stones concert on October 29th.
Not only did Ertegun sign Led Zeppelin, but Ahmet Zappa, Frank’s youngest son is also named after him. A couple of years ago, when I was temping to supplement my meager income as a freelance writer, I did a few days stint at Atlantic Records working their switchboard. A few times when Ertegun’s assistant was away from her desk and I had to cover his phone, I got to pick up his extension and say “Mr. Ertegun’s office.” It actually gave me a tiny thrill to say that. Sadly, I never got to meet him even though he was just down at the end of the corridor from where I was sitting.
Speaking from Los Angeles, singer Daryl Hall (Hall & Oates) had the following to say about Ertegun’s passing:
“Ahmet Ertegun was a giant in the record business. He cared first and foremost about the ARTIST and the MUSIC – much more than the business. He believed that if the Artist was true to him or herself, good business would follow. Sadly in today’s atmosphere, this isn’t the case. But, during Ahmet’s days of influence it was! He was one of the first people to realize our potential and supported us during our beginning – the most important time. We couldn’t have done what we did without Ahmet and Arif Mardin’s support and encouragement. He changed music and created what I consider its golden age. He will be sorely missed.”