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Friday, December 15, 2006

Death of a Dream

Analysis by Mark Mayhey reporting from London, UK

Ahmet Ertegun: A recording industry iconMr Ahmet Ertegun, the Turkish man that helped shape American popular music was officially pronounced dead yesterday, aged 83.

He suffered a head injury when he fell at a Rolling Stones concert at New York's Beacon Theatre in October, and died after slipping into a coma.

The son of a Turkish ambassador to the US, who, although born in Turkey, grew up in Washington DC, will be buried in his native home. A memorial service will be held in New York in the New Year, an Atlantic Records spokesman said.

The Turkish Warriors of Jazz

It was one of the curious facts in the history of modern popular music, that rhythm and blues and jazz - the sound of poor black urban America - were given a mass market by two middle-class immigrants from Turkey.

Mr Ertegun founded Atlantic Records in 1947, and his brother Nesuhi joined him later as vice-president of the company.

Along with his partner Herb Abramson, a native New Yorker, Mr Ertegun developed Atlantic into a powerhouse of rhythm and blues, jazz, soul and rock. A recording history icon, he helped make Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin stars and signed the Rolling Stones in the early 70s.

Ahmet Ertegun and Mick JaggerThe Atlantic label first made its name with rhythm and blues, but later diversified, making Franklin the Queen of Soul as well as carrying the banner of British rock with the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin and American pop with Bing Crosby, Sonny and Cher, and others.

Rolling Stones star Mick Jagger was the first of many to pay tribute to the music mogul by saying, "He was a marvellous man, very witty, a great raconteur."

"He will be fondly remembered by all who knew him...I will personally miss our warm and long friendship."

The man who called Mustafa Kemal Atatürk his "hero" remained at the helm of Atlantic Records even after the company was merged with Elektra and the Warner Music Group Corp and in 1995, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum announced that its main exhibition hall would be named after him.

The Death of a Dream

Mr Ertegun's untimely death will come as a large blow to Turkish music superstar Tarkan, who had been aiming to change popular music's landscape with his own brand of music.

The late music producer had reputedly been grooming Tarkan for an American music career ever since the mid-1990s, which had led to the disillusionment of Tarkan's American dream.

Now with Mr Ertegun dead it seems that the Turkish superstar's American Dream has been buried with him for good.

Pictures courtesy of BBC News online.

The views in this article are those of the author alone.
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