The definitive biography of Ahmet Ertegun—founder of Atlantic Records, the man behind stars from Ray Charles to the Rolling Stones.
Brilliant, cultured, brash, and irreverent, Ahmet Ertegun was a legend in the music world. Blessed with great taste and sharp business acumen, he founded Atlantic Records and brought rock ’n’ roll into the mainstream. He quickly became as renowned for his incredible sense of style and nonstop A-list social life as for his pioneering work in the studio.
Ertegun discovered, signed, or recorded many of the greatest musical artists of all time, among them Ruth Brown; Ray Charles; Bobby Darin; Sonny and Cher; Eric Clapton; Buffalo Springfield; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Led Zeppelin; and the Rolling Stones.
Ertegun lived grandly but was never happier than when he found himself in some down-and-out joint listening to music late at night. As colorful and compelling as its subject, The Last Sultan is the fascinating story of a man who always lived by his own rules.
The eternal music-biz question what exactly do record-label executives do? is explored in this sprightly bio of the legendary Atlantic Records cofounder. Journalist Greenfield (S.T.P.: A Journey Through America with the Rolling Stones) finds Mephistophelian traits in the Turkish-American impresario a preternaturally suave, persuasive schmoozer, Ertegun commits his share of cheats, betrayals and payola but Greenfield credits him with creative midwifery of the rock 'n' roll revolution. We see Ertegun scouting R&B pioneers, spotting potential hits amid the dross, singing backup on the pathbreaking "Shake, Rattle and Roll," matchmaking super-group Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and introducing Bianca and Mick. Despite Ertegun's dapper suits, tireless partying, and groupie-squiring, make him the Dionysian soul of rock; he was still hanging out with Kid Rock even after a hip replacement. Greenfield overhypes his subject "as great a star as any artist who had ever recorded for his label" and his accounts of Ertegun's postmerger boardroom duels with Jerry Wexler, David Geffen, and others in the Warner entertainment conglomerate are, like most corporate turf battles, uninteresting. Still, he gives us a vivid saga of the an industry in its salad days, and of the unholy but fertile union of money and music. Photos.