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The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun
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The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  413 ratings  ·  53 reviews
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 &am ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published November 8th 2011 by Simon Schuster
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3.98  · 
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 ·  413 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Very disappointing. It seemed like it was written in indecision - to be a biography of Ahmet Ertegun or a history of Atlantic Records? It falls short in both departments. Obviously its impossible to tell the story of one without the other, but this book just couldn't pull it off in an engaging way. Too bad.
Deniz Bankal
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
great subject, not so great writing. nonetheless it's fun to read (if you're into music history)
Mattias Stahre
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone even slightly interested in the history of popular music should read this book. From the segregated days of 'race music' in the 1940s to rap rock, it is full of interesting stories about the numerous artists, songwriters, producers and executives that at some point during their careers have crossed paths with Ertegun, whose highly remarkable life obviously is the main subject. The book offers a well-researched insight into the crazy world of the music industry, while also covering a varie ...more
Gregarious cline
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ahmet Ertegun is my official role model for 2015. FASCIfuckingNATING history and amazing in-depth look into the birth and death of this indie music label.
Bob Crosby
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Living in New York in the early 70's, I met and had some interactions with Ahmet, Tom Dowd and others at Atlantic, so this was especially poignant and interesting to me, learning about the "behind the scenes" part of Atlantic, although I was aware of some of them as I was in and out of Atlantic frequently at the time. This was a great account of a man who was truly one of the last titans of the music industry, a real prince of a guy who was a real class act. He met with a sad and tragic end to a ...more
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A must read for fans of music & the music industry. Ahmet was a force from the 40's to the 2000's as the founder of Atlantic Records, signing everyone from Ray Charles to the Stones and many, many others. Many great stories here; Greenfield did significant research and interviews and filled in the blanks for me on a lot of the details of what when down in the studios, clubs, dressing rooms and Atlantic offices.
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
An interesting biography was wasted by the author. Ertegun was one of the most influential and legendary people in the music business. However, the writer mostly focused on the business part of his life, and wrote a little about the music-side. Ertegun deserves much better biography.
Barry Hammond
Aug 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Ahmet Ertegun’s life mirrored rock ‘n’ roll itself: it started with jazz and blues, grew through doo-wop and teenage songs, exploded again with the “English Invasion” and hippie culture, eventually expanded until it became the dominant cultural force in the world, then shattered, along with the companies which created it, into the million disparate forms that still echo through all the media today.

Ertegun was the head of Atlantic Records, a company which started as a small, independent record la
Peter Geyer
The history of rock'n'roll, or rock music (different categories) has always been of personal interest, notwithstanding the uneven quality of writing and insight encountered when you find something you think will be worth reading. Ahmet Ertegun is of personal interest because I listened to a lot of songs, singles and albums, from his company, Atlantic Records, when I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s.

Robert Greenfield is a familiar name in the business of writing about this kind of thing, alt
Aug 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Good overview of the extraordinary life of Ahmet Eretegun, one of the founders of Atlantic records. It’s most interesting when discussing the early days at Atlantic (borrowing money from his dentist to start the company) and the period of time when jazz and blues gave birth to rock-n-roll. If you are curious about the recordings that bridge jazz/blues to rock this book is insightful. I thoroughly enjoyed the accounts of the dysfunctional relationships within Buffalo Springfield and Cream and the ...more
Kimberly Ann
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it

This man was utterly amazing.... Born in Istanbul, in 1923, to a man of status who later became Turkish Consulate of Switzerland, France, and the U.S., Ahmet gave up the wealth & privilege in order to pursue his dream of making Jazz recordings of lesser known (but no less brilliant) jazz musicians & singers.

The book also describes how Ahmet jointly founded Atlantic Records the company over which he long presided and his affinities and extensive knowledge of jazz and blues; however what
Joanne  Clarke Gunter
I really enjoyed reading this book. Ahmet Ertegun was all you ever thought he was and so much more. I knew he was a brilliant and brash music mentor and legend, discovering/signing the likes of Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, Sonny and Cher, Eric Clapton, CSN&Y, and many others, but I didn't know all that much about his life and over-the-top personality. He was a cultured man with a love of the finer things in life, but was never happier than when he was listening to music, especially that of musi ...more
M.M. Mayle
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In THE LAST SULTAN, the legendary Ahmet Ertegun is precisely drawn as both diplomatic and devious, courtly and crude, at home in drawing rooms as well as roadhouses, and possessed of the particular brand of savvy that helped create Rock 'n' Roll and a preponderance of its stars.

Robert Greenfield, an award-winning journalist and biographer, has all the right credentials for bringing Ertegun back to life on the page. With THE LAST SULTAN, Greenfield also supplies a lasting impression of the music
Bill Glover
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ahmet was the center of so much culture. This guy was a Hugh Hefner style hero. First he made the kind of records I'd kill for with jazz/soul/blues greats, then he almost invented the rock'n roll lifestyle.
There's a bit at the end about how he got the most out of life; that much is clear. Makes you want to make more happen for you, all while ignoring what your high school health teacher told you about taking risks...

Also Edgar Bronfman (former CEO of Warner Music) makes an appearance at the end.
Jan 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Interesting read for music fans and business-minded people. The story of Ahmet Ertegun, son of a Turkish Diplomat to the US whom, whithout any formal training other than the love of good music,gets his dentist to front him money to start a record label which would later go on to sign some of the biggest artists in music history. Ahmet founded Atlantic Records and signed Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, Crosby Stills, and a ton of other hugely successful groups. He was well-loved wi ...more
Jan 23, 2013 rated it liked it
I had been looking forward to reading this book since i got it (took me awhile to get to it). I really enjoyed the first part of the book, telling of Ahmet's history and family, and the beginnings of Atlantic Records. Eventually, though, the book got bogged down in telling anecdotes of Ahmet's exploits, and how funny he was, or how high or drunk or whatever. For about the last half of the book, I couldn't wait to finish it. I don't know if I'd recommend this book, except for the history part. I ...more
Scott Hersey
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I always thought Ahmet Ertegun, the founder and leader of Atlantic Records was larger-than-life. This well-researched bio confirms it. He was quite a character, mixing it up with Ruth Brown, Ray Charles, the Stones (in their Exile heyday) and CSN. He also discovered Kid Rock, but I guess I can forgive that. Filled with insider gossip and never-before-confirmed rumors, this is an especially fun read for anyone who already has some familiarity with the music business.
Dave Tucker
Jan 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Agree with Tim's review below, it fell between two stools, or maybe three e.g. trying to be academic and popular at the same time. Not sure author is really a music lover, a bit dry on the actual music. Anyway, you have to read about Ertegun if you appreciate the extraordinary music he helped bring to the world from 1950-1980 - New Orleans jazz, southern gospel/soul, psychedelia, heavy metal. And the Stones! His achievement was greater than the man himself, I felt by the end. Pity.
Jan 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
An easy-to-read bio of one of the most important impresarios of the pop music business. In the end I felt it had something lacking, though I'm not sure what exactly. It does describe many aspects of Ertegun's long and intersting career, but somehoe, you felt that it was the events that were described, rather than the person.
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful read from start to finish. Ahmet Ertegun led a very interesting and unusual life. Author Robert Greenfield skilfully weaves together all the different components. I learned a lot about him that I didn't know before and the photos included are excellent. Ahmet Ertegun got to work at something he loved for his entire life. Not too many people can make the same claim.
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a book for people interested in popular culture, music and the industry behind it. Where it's been, who runs it, where it's going. These are some things you learn while reading about the fascinating man, Ahmet Ertegun, who became such an important force in the history of the second half of the 20th century.
Robert Rust
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed the depth of insight into one of the most important men of the Modern recording industry and how many artists he fostered and help create some of the great talents of the last half of the 20th Cent.. I learned about his great love of Jazz especially his early years as the son of the 1st Turkish Ambassador in D.C.
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A whirlwind trip through the life of Ahmet Ertegun, who made himself rich and famous by producing some of the key bands during the beginning of what came to be known as 'Rock and Roll' music. Robert Greenfield did an excellent job of providing behind the scenes action of what went on, from his early life to his final resting in December of 2006.
Marji Philips
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am not sure whether I loved this book because Ertegun was such a fascinating character or because it was well written. I suspect the former. At any rate, I thought the book provided good insight into the evolution of the record industry, from blues to rock. And boy was it just fun if you're into the blues and rock n' roll.
Glenn Robinson
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Extremely enjoyable. Mr. Ertegun had the Midas touch for music. Wonderful wealth of a career that could have had him go into the Turkish Diplomatic corps, but instead went into the music business. He touched the careers of everyone from Duke Ellington, Ruth Brown, Ray Charles, The Stones to Kid Rock. Pretty clear that he did well as a diplomat!
Oct 31, 2011 rated it liked it
I was hoping for a more exhaustive portraiture a la Bill Graham but unfortunately this book has a lot more in common with Greenfield's far less masterful Exile on Main Street. I really wanted this to be a more comprehensive biography, Ahmet Ertegun is easily one of the most interesting characters in the history of popular music.
Elaine Kozak
May 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Ertegun is an interesting subject operating in a fascinating time in the history of modern music, but Greenfield's writing style, particularly the excessive use of participial phrases, makes the prose turgid and lumbering and very heavy going.
Feb 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Ahmet was the man in rock and roll longer than anybody else. The music he had a hand in is staggering. His tale going from the Turkish ambassador's son to the world's greatest hipster could not have been made up
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A former Associate Editor of the London bureau of Rolling Stone magazine, Robert Greenfield is the critically acclaimed author of several classic rock books, among them S.T.P.: A Journey Through America with the Rolling Stones, as well as the definitive biographies of Timothy Leary and Ahmet Ertegun. With Bill Graham, he is the co-author of Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out, which ...more