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The Last Sultan: the Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun [Hardcover]

Robert Greenfield
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 18.57 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Nov 2011
"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.

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The Last Sultan: the Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun + Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Spotlight Entertainment (1 Nov 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416558381
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416558385
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.5 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 222,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Mesmerizing, entertaining, informative. . . . There are a great many delicious stories in this page-turning work. . . . A vivid portrait of Ertegun but also a colorful panorama of the indie record-business during and after its rough-and-tumble years, when bootleggers sold as many singles as the real labels, gangsters were always angling to squeeze in on the action, and payola was just part of the cost of doing business." --Tom Nolan, "San Francisco Chronicle "

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Baby that was rock'n roll 20 Feb 2012
By Ourania
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"The Last Sultan" is a wonderful book for anyone who loves rock'n roll and is eager to learn about the people and the times that created this musical and cultural revolution. Ahmet Ertegun, the son of a Turkish diplomat, was at the center of this phenomenon.....the stories are both facinating and illuminating....a great book about a great guy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very inspirational and insightful 24 Nov 2012
This was a very pleasant and informative peace of reading. The book is about the life of Ahmet Ertegun, the Turkish American music producer who is behind major artists like Led Zeppelin, Sonny & Cher, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Rolling Stones, Kid Rock etc.

It gives you a lot information about the life of Ahmet Ertegun (the founding partner of Atlantic Records) but also about the music industry in general and its running.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who is interested in popular culture, its behind the scenes events and how the industry has developed over the years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Sultan (Paperback) 26 Feb 2013
The Last Sultan is a very well written book about a man who really wrote the book on how to run a record company.
Ahmet Ertegun was a very powerful man who was very inspirational in helping create rock and roll and nuture many fine musicians into superstars.
He was a man who believed in his company Atlantic, he worked and ran it for many years while everyone left he continued to work and keep his beloved Atlantic Records growing and recording some great music.

This book was very enjoyable, educational and fun to read. I highly recomend it to anyone who loves music history and a good story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a great business man! 29 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What a great inside view into the Rock'n'Roll Business.
Incredible what some guys have experienced.
It's only Rock and Roll but he liked it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  39 reviews
39 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsively Readable 11 Nov 2011
By sbdangerfield - Published on
As a professor of music at an ivy league institution, a huge fan of early R+B and soul music and a total Stones freak, I pre-ordered 'The Last Sultan', was up all night reading it and am currently considering making it required reading for my course on popular music.

I have followed Greenfield's writing since his STP: Stones Touring Party book, and fell in love with his oral biography of the great rock promoter Bill Graham from reading 'Bill Graham Presents', which I consider to be the Bible of what used to be known as the music biz. I also enjoyed his bios of Jerry Garcia and Timothy Leary and of course Exile on Main Street: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones.

I've always appreciated Greenfield's writing because he tells it like it is, and isn't some fanboy poseur impressed by fame or stardom. At the same time, he isn't a muckraker. I'm about 3/4 through 'The Last Sultan' and I think its his most readable book to date, and pleases much like the great pop music which Ahmet Ertegun himself produced.

The stories in this book are utterly priceless. My favorites include a scene in which a large woman wearing a muumu happily greets Ahmet at some social function only to have him respond, 'sorry, but I don't think we've met', to which she responds, 'Well, I'm your ex-wife'. In another scene, an extremely hungover Kid Rock (whom Ahmet refers to as his 'young elvis') comes over to Ahmet's house for lunch and complains that he hasn't slept and is having girl trouble, to which Ahmet responds 'You want a Baby Ruth, man? That'll make you feel better', at which point a butler brings out a silver platter of Baby Ruths and Butterfingers.

On a more serious note, the amazing history of Ahmet's father, a Turkish diplomat to the United States, and Ahmet's childhood with his brother Nesuhi (a jazz fanatic who ran his own label and recorded and produced everyone from Ornette Coleman to Sonny Rollins and even designed their album covers) is extremely interesting and noteworthy.

Of all the people Greenfield has written about, Ahmet Ertegun is the most fascinating and unbelievable personality of all, trumping even Bill Graham IMHO. To be able to have lunch with Henry Kissinger and then 'do coke with the bass player' in the same day is hardly understandable. As Kid Rock notes, Ahmet had more energy and partied harder at 75 years old than people half his age. But more importantly than the sex and drugs was the music. Ahmet was one of the few 'record men' who actually wrote songs and produced them in the studio. (Ray Charles' 'Mess Around' comes to mind) In another great scene, a young Andy Johns (who recorded 'Exile') is mixing a Stones song in the studio when 'some old guy walks in and says Hey, kid, you should turn up the bass and add some bottom to the guitars', and as Jonhs says, 'I did, and the thing gelled'. Asking Keith Richards 'who was that?', Keith responds, 'that's Ahmet Ertegun and he's been producing hits since before you were born'.

Anyhow, I've written too much, but as someone who loves and teaches the history of this music for a living, all I can say is, this book ROCKS.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An amazing life, a so-so book 26 May 2012
By L. A. Wayte - Published on
The life of Ahmet Ertegun was truly an amazing one, and this alone makes this book worth reading. But this is not biography at its best. The author often gets caught up in a "this happened, then this happened" sort of chronological storytelling that tends to get stilted. The author too often loses sight of the bigger picture and historical context during some chapters (particularly towards the end of the book), when he lapses into recounting a series of details and events of questionable relevance. Still, if the history of popular music in America holds any interest for you, this is worth reading, and it's not too much of a time investment at 350 pages. But if you're looking for scintillating biographical writing, you may be frustrated by the lack of a compelling narrative arch to the book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read... one question... 6 April 2012
By ERHAN CORAL - Published on
This book is a great read especially for those who are into music, and specifically into the golden age... Ahmet had lived a life sufficient to make a genuine Sultan jealous ... I certainly recommend this book, however one thing puzzles me though... despite many artists, colleagues, friends who are rightly mentioned on the book who touched Ahmet along the way, there was no single reference to another legendary Turkish music producer Arif Mardin, although the worked together at Atlantic before Mardin moved to EMI. I wonder if it was some sort of sign of a heartbreak between the two or a simple neglect...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Easy to put down...... 24 Sep 2013
By doug kochen - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Looks like a lot of it was re-written from other books on the same topic.

Not a lot of NEW and interesting stuff about the recording part of Atlantic Records.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Story 26 Dec 2012
By Gerardo Martinez Casas - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
but there has to be more. Of course there is more, but where is it? Good overview of the music industry and it's doings... Worth the read. Also, you can read the interview in The New Yorker in Profiles: Eclectic, Reminiscent, Amused, Fickle, Perverse by George W. S. Trow. After you read it and you want "more", get the book, otherwise, good ridance and do get Keith Richards Life.
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