Friday, December 15, 2006

Music Legend Ahmet Ertegun Dies, Aged 83

Music Legend Ahmet Ertegun Dies, Aged 83

Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, has died in New York after suffering head injuries from a fall at a Rolling Stones show on October 29.

Ertegun, considered to be the best in the music business, had been in a coma since the fall.

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."

Born on July 31, 1923 in Istanbul, Turkey, Ertegun founded Atlantic Records in 1949 with his brother Nesuhi as an independent label. Producer Jerry Wexler joined in the 60s and developed the label into the world's premiere R&B label with artists like Ray Charles, Joe Turner, Ruth Brown and The Drifters.

It was around this time that Ahmet was also dabbling in songwriting and wrote the hits 'Chains of Love' and 'Sweet Sixteen' under the pseudonym A. Nugetre. His best known song under that name was 'Mess Around', one of the first major hits for Ray Charles.

Ertegun had the best ears in the business and in the late 60s, the sound of Led Zeppelin grabbed him. He signed Led Zeppelin to Atlantic and sent the label in a new rock direction.

Next came Crosby, Stills & Nash followed by the jewel in his crown, The Rolling Stones. Ertegun personally negotiated the Stones deal with Mick Jagger.

It is ironic but somewhat fitting that Ertegun's life has ended at an event that signaled one of his greatest achievements. The Rolling Stones show on October 29 was for President Bill Clinton's 60th birthday. The show was held at the Beacon Theatre on Broadway.
Ahmet died with his family by his side. He will be buried in a private ceremony in his native Turkey. A memorial service will be conducted in New York after the New Year.

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