The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun

The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun

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by Robert Greenfield
     
 

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The Last Sultan is the definitive biography of a man who changed popular culture throughout the world. As the founder and head of Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegun signed and/or recorded many of the greatest musical artists of all time, among them Ruth Brown; Big Joe Turner; Ray Charles; Bobby Darin; Sonny and Cher; Eric Clapton; Buffalo Springfield; Crosby,

Overview

The Last Sultan is the definitive biography of a man who changed popular culture throughout the world. As the founder and head of Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegun signed and/or recorded many of the greatest musical artists of all time, among them Ruth Brown; Big Joe Turner; Ray Charles; Bobby Darin; Sonny and Cher; Eric Clapton; Buffalo Springfield; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Led Zeppelin; the Rolling Stones; Bette Midler; and Kid Rock. Working alongside his older brother, Nesuhi, one of the preeminent jazz producers of all time, and the legendary Jerry Wexler, who produced great soul artists like Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, and Aretha Franklin, Ertegun transformed Atlantic Records from a small independent record label into a hugely profitable multinational corporation. In successive generations, he also served as a mentor to record-business tyros like Phil Spector, David Geffen, and Lyor Cohen.

Brilliant, cultured, and irreverent, Ertegun was as renowned for his incredible sense of personal style and nonstop A-list social life as his work in the studio. Born into great privilege as the son of a high-ranking Turkish diplomat during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, Ertegun spent his life bringing the black-roots music he loved to the world.

A larger-than-life figure, always hip, Ertegun lived in the grand manner but was never happier than when he found himself in some down-and-out joint listening to music late at night. Blessed with impeccable taste and brilliant business acumen, he brought rock ’n’ roll into the mainstream while creating the music that became the sound track for the lives of multiple generations.

With supporting characters like Steve Ross, Henry Kissinger, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jann Wenner, and a host of others, The Last Sultan is the fascinating story of a man who always lived by his own rules.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. (Nov.)
Library Journal
In 2006, at 83 years old, the businessman with a passion for music who was as comfortable wheeling and dealing in French as he was joking around with Kid Rock died after falling backstage at a Rolling Stones concert. Greenfield—who has written exemplary biographies of Bill Graham and Jerry Garcia—draws on extensive interviews with Ahmet Ertegun's widow, the musicians who worked with him, and his many friends and traces Ertegun's emigration from Turkey at age two, growing love of jazz and early acquisition of around 20,000 78s, first partnership with Herb Abramson and the formation of Atlantic Records, often contentious relationship with David Geffen (founder of Asylum Records), and deep friendships with everyone from Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin to Keith Richards and Eric Clapton. VERDICT Greenfield's definitive biography gracefully sums up the life of a man who, in record mogul Jerry Wexler's words, "had eyes to make records." A must for every collection, this enchanting book captures the life and work of a seminal figure without whom the business of making records would not have had its lasting impact. [See Prepub Alert, 5/23/11.]—Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Evanston, IL
From the Publisher
"A vivid saga of the an industry in its salad days, and of the unholy but fertile union of money and music." —Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416558385
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
11/08/2011
Pages:
464
Product dimensions:
9.48(w) x 6.58(h) x 1.24(d)

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From the Publisher
"A vivid saga of the an industry in its salad days, and of the unholy but fertile union of money and music." —-Publishers Weekly

Meet the Author

An award-winning journalist, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and former associate editor of the London bureau of Rolling Stone, Robert Greenfield is the author of ten books of fiction and nonfiction, among them the classic STP: A Journey Through America With the Rolling Stones, and critically acclaimed biographies of Jerry Garcia, Timothy Leary, and Bill Graham.

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