The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun by Robert Greenfield.pdf (USD-0.00)The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun by Robert Greenfield.epub (USD-0.00)The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun by Robert Greenfield.doc (USD-0.00)The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun by Robert Greenfield.txt (USD-0.00)The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun by Robert Greenfield.mobi (USD-0.00)
The subject of this biography, the son of the Turkish ambassador to the United States, co-founded Atlantic Records in 1948, and still worked at the company (which had become a division of Time Warner) when he died in 2007. Probably no one consistently wielded more power and influence in the music industry over these six decades than did Ahmet Ertegun. He had a gift for discovering and nurturing new talent, and he took a very active role both in recording and marketing his label’s acts. Above all
The book is best read as an impressionistic history of rock and roll from the early 1950s through the mid 1970s. It’s far less successful as a biography: I never felt that I really got to know the subject. Ertegun is absent from the narrative for long stretches, and the author never really attempts to get into his head.
But the book has three larger problems.
First, Ertegun doesn’t come across as a very sympathetic character. He was tainted by some of the record industry’s biggest scandals: the bribery of disc jockeys and radio station executives in the 1950s (the so-called payola scandals), and the failure to pay full royalties to many of rock’s early acts and songwriters. He was a great negotiator but also a master manipulator of people. He was an epic party animal and contributed greatly to the decadence of the popular music industry.
Second, the book is uneven in its focus. The first half has more on the acts and how they made their music (the chapters on Ray Charles, Sonny & Cher, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones are full of interesting anecdotes), while the second half has more on corporate intrigue and backstabbing among music executives (Etrtegun had an especially fiery relationship with David Geffen).
The biggest problem for me is that the book is poorly written. The author relies way too much on direct quotes from secondary sources, such that the book often reads as if it were not so much written as copied and pasted. It’s not always clear who’s being quoted, and too often there are quotes within quotes (within quotes), and in many places I got lost and had no idea whose account or opinion I was reading. The heavy reliance on secondary material also meant the narrative lacked a consistent stylistic voice.
Those with an interest in the fascinating history of Atlantic Records may wish to seek out the documentary film Atlantic Records: The House That Ahmet Built, rather than slog through the ultimately unsatisfying pages of this book.
In the music world there are a handful of seminal figures, Marshall Chess of Chess records, Sam Phillips of Sun Studios, and then there was Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records who far beyond anyone else shaped our musical experience.
Ertegun explored and searched for new music from his childhood forays into Harlem in the 40s until well into the 70s. Discovering Jazz in the after-hours parties of Washington, DC Ertegun continued to look for cutting edge sounds with his brother. This turned into a p