Ahmet Ertegun (record executive, producer and songwriter; born July 31, 1923, died December 14, 2006)
One of the most significant figures in the modern recording industry, Ahmet Ertegun co-founded Atlantic Records in 1947 with partner Herb Abramson. Atlantic was at the forefront of great independent labels that sprang up in the late Forties, challenging the primacy of the major labels of the time (RCA, Columbia and Decca) by discovering, developing and nurturing new talent. Under the guiding hand of Ertegun – the son of a career diplomat and a lifelong jazz and blues aficionado – Atlantic became the nation’s premier rhythm & blues label in a few short years. The label’s artist roster in the Fifties reads like an honor roll of R&B talent: Ruth Brown, Big Joe Turner, Ray Charles, LaVern Baker, the Drifters, the Coasters, the Clovers, and many more. During this period, Ertegun produced or coproduced the vast majority of records released on Atlantic. He even wrote songs for Atlantic artists in the early days using the pseudonym “Nugetre” (Ertegun spelled backwards).
Although he was less directly involved as a producer, Ertegun continued at the helm of Atlantic in the Sixties and Seventies as the company conquered the realms of soul and rock, from Aretha Franklin to Led Zeppelin, with phenomenal success. Ertegun served as chairman of Atlantic Records until his death at age 83 on Deecmber 14, 2006. At the tenth annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Dinner in 1995, it was announced that the museum’s main exhibition hall would be named after Ertegun.