The Last Sultan by Robert Greenfield
The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Robert Greenfield

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Robert Greenfield is an award-winning novelist, screenwriter, and playwright, and is the author of Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out; Exile on Main St.: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones; and Timothy Leary: A Biography. He lives in California.
 
Published November 8, 2011 by Simon & Schuster. 466 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Business & Economics, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Last Sultan

Kirkus Reviews

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Though Atlantic was sold to Warner-Seven Arts for $17.5 million in 1967, Ertegun stayed on with the company for nearly four more decades, serving as chairman through a period of unprecedented upheaval in the record industry until his death at 83.

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The New York Times

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His biographer ends up listing the “symptoms traditionally associated with listeria” (“fever, muscle aches and nausea or diarrhea”), with which Ertegun survived “a protracted bout.” “Just like Herb Abramson, Jerry Wexler, David Geffen and Jerry Greenberg,” Greenfield writes, in a passage that epi...

Nov 25 2011 | Read Full Review of The Last Sultan: The Life and...

The New York Times

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In the later chapters, Greenfield describes Ertegun’s move away from the black music he loved and championed, toward white bands — Cream, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones — whose affinity for black music drew them to sign with Atlantic, and, finally, toward Hootie and the Blowfish.

Nov 25 2011 | Read Full Review of The Last Sultan: The Life and...

The New York Times

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But he also points out that “what Ahmet did not know about actually running a record company was equally staggering.” Mr. Ertegun founded Atlantic in 1947 with Herb Abramson, who had a degree in dentistry but preferred the music business because, as he told his wife, “I never saw a hip f...

Nov 20 2011 | Read Full Review of The Last Sultan: The Life and...

Publishers Weekly

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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 m...

Aug 15 2011 | Read Full Review of The Last Sultan: The Life and...

The Wall Street Journal

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The night he heard Duke Ellington play live, Ahmet Ertegun started down the path that ended in his becoming one of the greatest recording executives in music history.

Nov 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Last Sultan: The Life and...

Dallas News

… I’d never heard music with that kind of strength.” Then there’s the account of Ertegun, 21 years later, at singer Big Joe Turner’s 1954 New York City Atlantic session where Turner records a “change of pace” up-tempo number backed by a combo of jazz and rhythm-and-blues musicians, as Ahmet and t...

Dec 30 2011 | Read Full Review of The Last Sultan: The Life and...

Business Week

By the time Ahmet Ertegun signed the Rolling Stones to his Atlantic Records label in April 1971, the imprint had already launched superstars including Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Led Zeppelin, and fractious hippie supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young onto the global stage.

Nov 10 2011 | Read Full Review of The Last Sultan: The Life and...

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