Music Man: Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic Records, and the Triumph of Rock'n'roll

Dorothy Wade, Author, Justine Picardie, With
Dorothy Wade, Author, Justine Picardie, With W. W. Norton & Company $19.95 (303p) ISBN 978-0-393-02635-1
Reviewed on: 03/01/1990
Release date: 03/01/1990
Picardie and Wade ( Heroin: Chasing the Dragon ) here recount the career of Ahmet Ertegun, rock 'n' roll mogul and co-founder of Atlantic Records. They show that in an industry not noted for gentility, heavily influenced by drugs and associated with organized crime, Ertegun is among a handful of people who have remained essentially decent. From an early age, he had a passion for rhythm and blues, frequenting Harlem nightclubs and poring through old recordings in Washington, D.C., record stores. This type of music formed the basis of Atlantic's early success through the songs of such artists as Ray Charles, Aretha Frankin and Ben E. King. Atlantic's direction changed in the mid-'60s with the signing of major white performers: Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and, eventually, the Rolling Stones. Ertegun's courtship of Mick Jagger not only makes for entertaining reading, but also demonstrates his persistence and shrewdness. The true entrepreneurial phase of Atlantic's history ended with the sale of the company to Warner/Seven Arts, according to the authors, who laud Ertegun, head of the Atlantic division of Warner, for his remarkable survival skills in a very tough business. The book will appeal primarily to insiders; those not familiar with the industry will find it of only passing interest. Photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)
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