What'd I Say

The Atlantic Story
Ahmet Ertegun
ISBN 9781566490481 (hardcover)
Published in June 2001
MSRP $75.00
"The legendary Turk who founded Atlantic Records with a $10,000 loan from his dentist remains its co-chairman and co-C.E.O. today: as the company heads into a star-studded 50th-anniversary celebration this year, (Ertegun's) fabled charm is as potent as ever. Through it all, Ertegun has remained the ultimate industry icon."
- Leslie Bennetts, Vanity Fair
"(Ertegun) is the greatest record executive alive today the template by which everything else is measured."
- David Geffen
"With a roster including Ray Charles, the Drifters, and Aretha Franklin, Atlantic Records pretty much was rhythm and blues in the '50s and '60s. And label founder Ertegun was Atlantic Records. This lavish tome tells the hugely influential record company's story in 1,000 evocative photographs, augmented by the oral-history-style reminiscence of Ertegun and musicians he discovered or helped make stars. Atlantic did well in other genres besides R & B, recording some of jazz legends John Coltrane's and Charles Mingus' best work and the influential rock supergroups Cream and Led Zeppelin. By the '70s, though, its glory years were over, and the likes of Foreigner, ABBA, and, more recently, Hootie and the Blowfish became the label's mainstays. So the book resembles those CD boxed sets tracing the trajectory of a career: just as the first two or three discs get repeated play, whereas the last gets filed after a cursory scan, the second half of this volume pales before the glories that precede it. It records a remarkable half century of music, nevertheless."
- Gordon Flagg, Booklist
Ahmet Ertegun, founder & CEO of Altantic Records with:
Greil Marcus, former editor of Rolling Stone and Creem
Lenny Kaye, respected musician, producer and writer
Robert Christgau, Senior editor and chief music critic of the Village Voice
David Fricke, senior editor of Rolling Stone
Barney Hoskyns, author
Nat Hentoff, contributor to the Wall Street Journal and freelance journalist
Will Friedwauld, leading authority on jazz and pop music
Robert Gordon, author and producer
Vincent Aletti, art editor and photo critic for The Village Voice

Ertegun created Atlantic Records in 1948, building it into the single most important record label of the post-war era. By the early 1950s he had signed John Coltrane, Charlie Mingus, and Ray Charles. By 1960 Atlantic dominated the world music scene, having signed just about everyone who was anyone in the newly enfranchised pop scene; the company would reign over the rock scene for another three decades.
Never before has Ahmet Ertegun talked comprehensively about his life in music or about the bands he signed and nurtured. Contributors include: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Robert Plant, Pete Townsend, Eric Clapton, Phil Spector, Jack Bruce, Jewel, Tori Amos, Cher, Booker T., Rufus Thomas, Steven Stills, Graham Nash, Neil Young, Yes, Greg Allman, Genesis, Phil Collins, Blues Brothers, Stevie Nicks and many, many more.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the creation of Atlantic Records, featuring over 1,000 color and black and white photographs many never before seen I Say? is the official behind-the-scenes story of the meteoric rise of Rock and Roll by the people who made the history.

Founded in 1947 by Ertegun, the son of a Turkish diplomat, Atlantic Records is one of the most successful and respected major record companies. Early hits by black artists such as Ray Charles and Clyde McPhatter established the label as an incubator of R&B. (In fact, it was Ertegun's partner, Jerry Wexler, who coined the phrase rhythm & blues). As the 1970s dawned, the label famous for its black artists filled its roster with quintessential white bands like Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Led Zeppelin. In this oral history, Ertegun's anecdotes are liberally supplemented by comments from scores of associates and Atlantic artists. Some of the most respected names in music journalism, including Robert Christgau and Greil Marcus, have also contributed eight essays covering different time periods and aspects of Atlantic. More than 1200 color and black-and-white photographs make this a fun book to leaf through. Big, glossy, and entertaining, "What'd I Say" is a coffee-table tribute to a rare species: a record company that respects its artists and treats them fairly. For a more comprehensive biography of Ertegun, see Dorothy Wade and Justine Picardie's Music Man (LJ 3/15/90). Lloyd Jansen, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
- Library Journal