Friday, December 15, 2006

YOU ARE THE F---ING END, YOU KNOW: Sorry to say that Ahmet Ertegun died yesterday. Ertegun, a co-founder and, with Jerry Wexler, the principal creative and business force behind Atlantic Records, was part of a generation of major music executives (think Herb Alpert & Jerry Moss of A&M and Berry Gordy of Motown) who were, and had to be, both music lovers with impeccable taste and shrewd businessmen. Atlantic's forte from the earliest days was R&B, and until the early 70s, I would say, it was probably as closely associated with the best of that genre as was Motown or Stax. (Maybe somebody older than I am can confirm that.) It branched out into other pop territory in the late 1960s and 1970s, famously signing Led Zeppelin (and distributing Bad Company and Cream as well). I have fond memories of the green and red Atlantic label with the "A" and the swirly thing on my Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin II albums spinning around on my inherited turntable. It's hard for me to believe, by the way, that Ertegun didn't know that "Whole Lotta Love" ripped off Willie Dixon or that "Lemon Song" stole from Robert Johnson (to cite just two examples from Led Zeppelin II).

Atlantic released "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs"; it didn't discover the Rolling Stones but it issued their seminal 1970s albums (under the Rolling Stones Records imprint). Ertegun was chiefly responsible for all of that. Ertegun also produced records for fun, under the pseudonym "A. Nugetre," a fact I learned about the time that I bought the Honeydrippers EP. He was a titan of the music industry.

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