Ahmet Ertegun Eulogy To My Brother Nesuhi
From Jon Hammond N.Y., NY: I was honored to be invited to be with friends, family and Atlantic Records WEA and so many Musicians on this day in 1989 in Lincoln Center. I arrived with Bernard Purdie long-time Atlantic recording artist and we sat together amongst the Musicians, in concert were Modern Jazz Quartet, Roberta Flack, Phil Collins, Manhattan Transfer, Ron Carter, Sylvia Simms and at end after Ahmet’s eulogy George Wein played a piano blues with Claude Nobbs on harmonica. Cocktail reception followed, it was somber but warm and joyful at the same time. Now Ahmet has passed RIP, he was always nice to me so I pass this on in their memory.
*Ahmet Ertegun was “one of the most significant figures in the modern recording industry” who “co-founded Atlantic Records in 1947 with partner Herb Abramson. Atlantic was at the forefront of great independent labels that sprang up in the late Forties, challenging the primacy of the major labels of the time (RCA, Columbia and Decca) by discovering, developing and nurturing new talent. Under the guiding hand of Ertegun – the son of a career diplomat and a lifelong jazz and blues aficionado – Atlantic became the nation’s premier rhythm & blues label in a few short years. The label’s artist roster in the Fifties reads like an honor roll of R&B talent: Ruth Brown, Big Joe Turner, Ray Charles, LaVern Baker, the Drifters, the Coasters, the Clovers, and many more. During this period, Ertegun produced or coproduced the vast majority of records released on Atlantic. He even wrote songs for Atlantic artists in the early days using the pseudonym “Nugetre” (Ertegun spelled backwards). Though he was less directly involved as a producer, Ertegun continued at the helm of Atlantic in the Sixties and Seventies as the company conquered the realms of soul and rock, from Aretha Franklin to Led Zeppelin, with phenomenal success. Ertegun serves as chairman of Atlantic Records to this day. At the tenth annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Dinner in 1995, it was announced that the museum’s main exhibition hall would be named after Ertegun.” (quote from Museum)
Nesuhi Ertegun “spent most of his lifetime working at Atlantic Records and associated labels. He joined Atlantic in 1956, nine years after its founding by his brother Ahmet and Herb Abramson. Nesuhi initially developed Atlantic’s album department and built up the label’s extensive catalog of jazz long-players. The list of jazz artists he produced at Atlantic over the years reads like a who’s who: John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, the Modern Jazz Quartet and more. Nesuhi also became involved with the label’s rhythm & blues and rock and roll roster as well, producing several hit records for Ray Charles, the Drifters, Bobby Darin and Roberta Flack. The son of a Turkish diplomat, Nesuhi acquired his taste for black music while growing up in Washington D.C., where he and Ahmet would frequent the Howard Theater and scour the community for records by their favorite musicians. In 1944, he moved to Los Angeles to run the Jazzman Record Shop. While there he created his own label, Crescent Records (later Jazzman), on which he recorded the likes of Kid Ory and Jelly Roll Morton. Nesuhi also served as editor of Record Changer magazine and taught the first accredited course in jazz offered in the U.S., at UCLA. In addition to founding the jazz division at Atlantic, Nesuhi later went on to spearhead the label’s international operations, expanding the business and opening up new markets overseas. After the merger of the Warner Brothers, Elektra and Atlantic labels in 1971, he headed WEA International. He later oversaw the special projects division of Warner Communications and launched East/West, a Atlantic-distributed label, in 1988.” (quote from Museum)