The founding chairman of Atlantic Records passed away today in New York City after spending several months in a coma. He was hospitalized after falling at a Rolling Stones Concert at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan. Mr. Ertegun will be buried in a private ceremony in his native Turkey. A memorial service will be conducted in New York after the New Year.
Ahmet Ertegun was born in Istanbul, Turkey on July 31, 1923. The son of the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, Ahmet was raised and educated in Switzerland, Paris, London, and Washington, D.C. A passionate music fan and collector, Ertegun borrowed $10,000 from his dentist and founded Atlantic Records in New York City in the fall of 1947. He signed artists, produced records, wrote songs, and supervised the fledgling label.
Ahmet will best be remembered for the artists he discovered and fostered. His legacy includes a lengthy roster of artists including Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Bobby Darin, Sonny & Cher, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, The Rolling Stones, Bette Midler, Roberta Flack, Phil Collins, and many others.
In recognition of his contributions to contemporary music and culture, Ahmet was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, which he himself co-founded. He later received an honorary music doctorate from the Berklee College of Music, and was presented with a Trustees Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. In 2000, he was dubbed a "Living Legend" by the United States Library of Congress, and in June 2006, he was honored with the opening night concert at the 40th Montreux Jazz Festival. He never retired and remained active at Atlantic until his death, serving as Founding Chairman of the company he started six decades ago.
Information for this article was provided by Atlantic Records.