Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Last Sultan

The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun by Robert Greenburg  431 pp.

As books about the recording industry go, this one is just okay and a bit of a slog. Ahmet Ertegun was raised in luxury as the son of a Turkish Ambassador to various countries including the U.S. Ahmet and his brother, Nesuhi, became fans of jazz while in their teens. Soon the two young men became experts in the field and owners of a tremendous collection of jazz records. Eventually they both went into the record business in order to support and promote the talented African-American musicians who were being ignored by agents, promoters, and record manufacturers. Eventually Neshuhi set out on his own with a small record label but later rejoined with his brother after  Ahmet created Atlantic Records with co-founder Herb Abramson. Atlantic became a giant in the industry eventually signing many big names in jazz, blues, and rock including Ben E. King, Percy Sledge, Ruth Brown, LaVern BakerBobby Darin, Ray Charles, and later, The Rolling Stones,  Led Zeppelin, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, and many more. This book details shady deals, and double crosses, Ertegun's love-hate relationships with both industry collaborators and competitors, and Ertegun's wild life of partying. While he's not a man to be admired for his personal life, his contribution to the music industry cannot be understated.  

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