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Atlantic Recording Corporation (simply known as Atlantic Records) is an American
record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Brands are used in business, marketing, and adv ...
founded in October 1947 by
Ahmet Ertegun Ahmet Ertegun (, Turkish spelling: Ahmet Ertegün (); – December 14, 2006) was a Turkish-American businessman, songwriter and philanthropist. Ertegun was the co-founder and president of Atlantic Records. He discovered and championed many lead ...
and
Herb Abramson Herbert C. Abramson (November 16, 1916 – November 9, 1999) was an American record company executive, record producer, and co-founder of Atlantic Records Atlantic Recording Corporation (simply known as Atlantic Records) is an American recor ...
. Over its first 20 years of operation, Atlantic earned a reputation as one of the most important American labels, specializing in
jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre ...
,
R&B Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African-American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African ...
, and
soul In many religious, philosophical, and myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually non-humans, such as ...

soul
by
Aretha Franklin Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942August 16, 2018) was an American singer, songwriter, actress, pianist, and civil rights activist. Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel Gospel originally meant the Christian message ("the gos ...

Aretha Franklin
,
Ray Charles Ray Charles Robinson Sr. (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer. Among friends and fellow musicians he preferred being called "Brother Ray". He was often referred to as "the Genius". Charl ...

Ray Charles
,
Wilson Pickett Wilson Pickett (March 18, 1941 – January 19, 2006) was an American singer and songwriter. A major figure in the development of American soul music, Pickett recorded over 50 songs which made the US charts, many of which crossed over to the . ...

Wilson Pickett
,
Sam and Dave Sam, SAM or variants may refer to: Places * SAM, IATA airport code for Salamo Airport Salamo Airport is an airfield serving Salamo, in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea. Airlines and destinations The airfield can be reached by chartered ...
,
Ruth Brown Ruth Alston Brown (; January 12, 1928 – November 17, 2006) was an American singer-songwriter and actress, sometimes known as the " Queen of R&B". She was noted for bringing a pop music Pop is a genre of popular music that originated in its ...

Ruth Brown
and
Otis Redding Otis Ray Redding Jr. (September 9, 1941 – December 10, 1967) was an American singer and songwriter. He is considered one of the greatest singers in the history of American popular music and a seminal artist in soul music and rhythm and blues. N ...

Otis Redding
. Its position was greatly improved by its distribution deal with
StaxStreaming API for XML (StAX) is an application programming interface (API) to read and write XML documents, originating from the Java (programming language), Java programming language community. Traditionally, XML APIs are either: * DOM based - the ...

Stax
. In 1967, Atlantic became a wholly owned subsidiary of
Warner Bros.-Seven Arts Warner Bros.-Seven Arts, Inc. was an American entertainment company active from 1967 until 1969. History Seven Arts Productions Combined With Warner Bros. Pictures for $32 million in November 1966. The merger between the two companies was comp ...
, now the
Warner Music Group Warner Music Group Corp. (commonly abbreviated as WMG and simply referred to as Warner Music) is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Mult ...
, and expanded into
rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, chemical composition and the way in w ...
and
pop music Pop is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form during the mid-1950s in the United States and the United Kingdom. The terms ''popular music'' and ''pop music'' are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all ...
with releases by
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Crosby, Stills & Nash (CSN) is a folk rock Folk rock is a hybrid music genre combining elements of folk music and rock music, which arose in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom in the mid-1960s. In the U.S., folk rock emerged ...
,
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin were an English Rock music, rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones (musician), John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. With a ...
and
Yes Yes or YES may refer to: * An affirmative particle in the English language; see yes and no Education * YES Prep Public Schools, Houston, Texas, US * YES (Your Extraordinary Saturday), a learning program from the Minnesota Institute for Talented ...
. In 2004, Atlantic and its sister label Elektra were merged into
Atlantic Records Group Atlantic Records Group is an umbrella label owned by Warner Music Group Warner Music Group Corp. (WMG) is an American Multinational corporation, multinational entertainment and record label Conglomerate (company), conglomerate headquartered in ...
.
Craig Kallman Craig Kallman is an American businessman and former DJ. He is currently the chairman and CEO of the Atlantic Records Group. His career in music began in the 1980s as a DJ in Manhattan. He is the founder of the independent label Big Beat Recor ...
is the chairman of Atlantic. Ahmet Ertegun served as founding chairman until his death on December 14, 2006, at age 83.


History


Founding and early history

In 1944, brothers Nesuhi and Ahmet Ertegun remained in the United States when their mother and sister returned to Turkey after the death of their father
Munir Ertegun Mehmet Munir Ertegun (Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece Gree ...
, Turkey's first ambassador to the U.S. The brothers were fans of jazz and rhythm & blues, amassing a collection of over 15,000 78 RPM records. Ahmet ostensibly stayed in Washington to undertake post-graduate music studies at
Georgetown University Georgetown University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly ...

Georgetown University
but immersed himself in the Washington music scene and entered the record business, which was enjoying a resurgence after wartime restrictions on the shellac used in manufacture. He convinced the family dentist, Dr. Vahdi Sabit, to invest $10,000 and hired
Herb Abramson Herbert C. Abramson (November 16, 1916 – November 9, 1999) was an American record company executive, record producer, and co-founder of Atlantic Records Atlantic Recording Corporation (simply known as Atlantic Records) is an American recor ...
, a dentistry student. Abramson had worked as a part-time A&R manager/producer for
Al Green Albert Leornes Greene (born April 13, 1946) is an singer, songwriter and record producer best known for recording a series of s in the early , including "", "", "", "", and his , "". After an incident in which his girlfriend died by , Green b ...
at the jazz label
National Records National Records was a record label that was started in New York City by Albert Green in 1945 and lasted until early 1951. Big Joe Turner Joseph Vernon "Big Joe" Turner Jr. (May 18, 1911 – November 24, 1985) was an American blues shouter f ...

National Records
, signing
Big Joe Turner Joseph Vernon "Big Joe" Turner Jr. (May 18, 1911 – November 24, 1985) was an American blues shouter from Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri. According to songwriter Doc Pomus, "Rock and roll would have never happened without him." ...

Big Joe Turner
and
Billy Eckstine William Clarence Eckstine (July 8, 1914 – March 8, 1993) was an American jazz and pop singer and a bandleader during the swing era. He was noted for his rich, almost operatic bass-baritone voice. His recording of " I Apologize" (MGM, 1948) was ...
. He founded
Jubilee A jubilee is a particular anniversary of an event, usually denoting the 25th, 40th, 50th, 60th, and the 70th anniversary. Of Jubilee (biblical), biblical origin, the term is often now used to denote the celebrations associated with the reign of a ...
in 1946 but had no interest in its most successful musicians. In September 1947, he sold his share in Jubilee to his partner,
Jerry Blaine Jerry Blaine (December 31, 1910 – March 14, 1973) was a bandleader, co-founder of Jubilee Records, record distributor, and singer who recorded 18 sides for the Master and Bluebird Records, Bluebird labels from 1937 to 1938. Biography He was ...
, and invested $2,500 in Atlantic. Atlantic was incorporated in October 1947 and was run by Abramson (president) and Ertegun (vice-president in charge of A&R, production, and promotion). Abramson's wife
Miriam Miriam ( he, מִרְיָם ''Mīrəyām'') is described in the as the daughter of and , and the older sister of and . She was a and first appears in the . The refers to her as "Miriam the Prophetess" and the names her as one of the seven ...
ran the label's publishing company, Progressive Music, and did most office duties until 1949 when Atlantic hired its first employee, bookkeeper Francine Wakschal, who remained with the label for the next 49 years.Broven 2009, p. 65. Miriam gained a reputation for toughness. Staff engineer
Tom Dowd Thomas John Dowd (October 20, 1925 – October 27, 2002) was an United States, American recording engineer and record producer, producer for Atlantic Records. He was credited with innovating the multitrack recording method. Dowd worked on a veritab ...
recalled, "Tokyo Rose was the kindest name some people had for her" and
Doc Pomus Jerome Solon Felder (June 27, 1925 – March 14, 1991), known professionally as Doc Pomus, was an American blues Blues is a music genre and musical form which was originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s by African ...
described her as "an extraordinarily vitriolic woman". When interviewed in 2009, she attributed her reputation to the company's chronic cash-flow shortage: "... most of the problems we had with artists were that they wanted advances, and that was very difficult for us ... we were undercapitalized for a long time." The label's office in the Ritz Hotel in Manhattan proved too expensive, so they moved to a room in the Hotel Jefferson. In the early fifties, Atlantic moved from the Hotel Jefferson to offices at 301 West 54th St and then to 356 West 56th St. Atlantic's first recordings were issued in late January 1948 and included "That Old Black Magic" by
Tiny Grimes Lloyd "Tiny" Grimes (July 7, 1916 – March 4, 1989) was an American jazz and Rhythm and blues, R&B guitarist. He was a member of the Art Tatum Trio from 1943 to 1944, was a backing musician on recording sessions, and later led his own bands, ...
and "The Spider" by Joe Morris. In its early years, Atlantic concentrated on modern jazzKramer 1958, p. 24. although it released some
country and western A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence or citizenship. A country may be an independent sovereign state or part of a larger state, as a n ...

country and western
and
spoken word Spoken word refers to an Oral tradition, oral poetic performance art that is based mainly on the poem as well as the performer's aesthetic qualities. It is a late 20th century continuation of an ancient oral artistic tradition that focuses on t ...
recordings. Abramson also produced "Magic Records", children's records with four grooves on each side, each groove containing a different story, so the story played would be determined by the groove in which the stylus happened to land. In late 1947,
James PetrilloJames Caesar Petrillo (March 16, 1892 – October 23, 1984) was the leader of the American Federation of Musicians, a trade union A trade union (or a labor union in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), so ...
, head of the
American Federation of Musicians The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM/AFofM) is a 501(c)(5) A 501(c) organization is a nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organizat ...
, announced an indefinite ban on all recording activities by union musicians, and this came into effect on January 1, 1948. The union action forced Atlantic to use almost all its capital to cut and stockpile enough recordings to last through the ban, which was expected to continue for at least a year. Ertegun and Abramson spent much of the late 1940s and early 1950s scouring nightclubs in search of talent. Ertegun composed songs under the alias "A. Nugetre", including Big Joe Turner's hit "Chains of Love", recording them in booths in Times Square, then giving them to an arranger or session musician. Early releases included music by
Sidney Bechet Sidney Joseph Bechet (May 14, 1897 – May 14, 1959) was an American jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with ...
,
Barney Bigard Albany Leon "Barney" Bigard (March 3, 1906 – June 27, 1980) was an American jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuri ...
,
The Cardinals The Cardinals were an American R&B group of the 1950s. Sharing a legacy with the Orioles, The Cardinals are remembered as one of the best R&B ballad acts to come out of Baltimore. Origins The Cardinals’ career began in 1946 (one year before T ...
,
The Clovers The Clovers are an American rhythm and blues Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African-American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe r ...
, Frank Culley,
The Delta Rhythm Boys The Delta Rhythm Boys was an American vocal group active from 1934 to 1987. The group was formed at Langston University Langston University (LU) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant Historically black colleges and ...
,
Erroll Garner Erroll Louis Garner (June 15, 1921 – January 2, 1977) was an American jazz pianist and composer known for his Swung note, swing playing and ballads. His best-known composition, the ballad "Misty (song), Misty", has become a jazz standard. Scott ...
,
Dizzy Gillespie John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie (; October 21, 1917 – January 6, 1993) was an American jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the of arranging s in ti ...
,
Tiny Grimes Lloyd "Tiny" Grimes (July 7, 1916 – March 4, 1989) was an American jazz and Rhythm and blues, R&B guitarist. He was a member of the Art Tatum Trio from 1943 to 1944, was a backing musician on recording sessions, and later led his own bands, ...
,
Al Hibbler Albert George Hibbler (August 16, 1915 – April 24, 2001) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of ...
,
Earl Hines Earl Kenneth Hines, also known as Earl "Fatha" Hines (December 28, 1903 – April 22, 1983), was an American jazz pianist Thelonious Monk in 1947. Jazz piano is a collective term for the techniques pianists use when playing jazz Jazz is a ...
,
Johnny Hodges Cornelius "Johnny" Hodges (July 25, 1907 – May 11, 1970) was an American alto saxophonist The alto saxophone, also referred to as the alto sax or simply the alto, is a member of the saxophone family of woodwind instruments invented by Belgia ...

Johnny Hodges
,
Jackie & Roy Jackie and Roy was an American jazz vocal team consisting of husband and wife singer Jackie Cain and singer/pianist Roy Kral. They sang together for 56 years and made almost 40 albums. Kral's obituary in ''The New York Times'' said: "Their voice ...

Jackie & Roy
,
Lead Belly Huddie William Ledbetter (; January 23, 1888 – December 6, 1949), better known by the stage name Lead Belly, was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly ...

Lead Belly
,
Meade Lux Lewis Anderson Meade Lewis (September 4, 1905 – June 7, 1964), known as Meade Lux Lewis, was an American pianist and composer, noted for his playing in the boogie-woogie style. His best-known work, "Honky Tonk Train Blues”, has been recorded by many ...
,
Professor Longhair Henry Roeland "Roy" Byrd (December 19, 1918 – January 30, 1980), better known as Professor Longhair or "Fess" for short, was an American singer and pianist who performed New Orleans blues. He was active in two distinct periods, first in the he ...
,
Shelly Manne Sheldon Manne (June 11, 1920 – September 26, 1984), professionally known as Shelly Manne, was an American jazz drummer Jazz drumming is the art of playing percussion (predominantly the drum set, which includes a variety of drums and cymbals) ...
,
Howard McGhee Howard McGhee (March 6, 1918 – July 17, 1987) was one of the first bebop Bebop or bop is a style of jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, in the late 19t ...
,
Mabel Mercer Mabel Mercer (3 February 1900 – 20 April 1984) was an English-born cabaret singer who performed in the United States, Britain, and Europe with the greats in jazz and cabaret. She was a featured performer at Chez Bricktop in Paris, owned by ...
, James Moody, Joe Morris,
Art Pepper Arthur Edward Pepper Jr. (September 1, 1925 – June 15, 1982) was an American alto saxophonist The alto saxophone, also referred to as the alto sax or simply the alto, is a member of the saxophone family of woodwind instruments invented by ...

Art Pepper
,
Django Reinhardt Jean Reinhardt (23 January 1910 – 16 May 1953), known by his Romani nickname Django ( or ), was a Belgian-born Romani Romani may refer to: Ethnicities *Romani people The Romani (), also known as the Roma, are an Indo-Aryan people, ...
,
Pete Rugolo Pietro "Pete" Rugolo (December 25, 1915 – October 16, 2011) was an American jazz composer, arranger and record producer. Life and career Rugolo was born in San Piero Patti, Sicily. His family emigrated to the United States in 1920 and settled ...
,
Pee Wee Russell Charles Ellsworth "Pee Wee" Russell (March 27, 1906 – February 15, 1969), was an American jazz musician. Early in his career he played clarinet and saxophones, but he eventually focused solely on clarinet. With a highly individualistic and spo ...
,
Bobby Short Robert Waltrip Short (September 15, 1924 – March 21, 2005) was an American cabaret singer and pianist, best known for his interpretations of songs by popular composers of the first half of the 20th century such as Rodgers and Hart, Cole Po ...

Bobby Short
,
Sylvia Syms Sylvia May Laura Syms (born 6 January 1934) is an English actress, best known for her roles in the films ''Woman in a Dressing Gown'' (1957), ''Ice Cold in Alex'' (1958), ''No Trees in the Street'' (1959), ''Victim (1961 film), Victim'' (196 ...
,
Billy Taylor Billy Taylor (July 24, 1921 – December 28, 2010) was an American jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with its ...

Billy Taylor
,
Sonny Terry Saunders Teddell, or Saunders Terrell (or other variants, sources differ) (October 24, 1911 – March 11, 1986), known as Sonny Terry, was an American Piedmont blues and folk music, folk musician, who was known for his energetic blues harmon ...
,
Big Joe Turner Joseph Vernon "Big Joe" Turner Jr. (May 18, 1911 – November 24, 1985) was an American blues shouter from Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri. According to songwriter Doc Pomus, "Rock and roll would have never happened without him." ...

Big Joe Turner
,
Jimmy Yancey James Edwards Yancey (February 20, 1894 or 1895 or 1901 – September 17, 1951) was an American boogie-woogie pianist, composer, and lyricist. One reviewer described him as "one of the pioneers of this raucous, rapid-fire, eight-to-the-bar piano s ...
,
Sarah Vaughan Sarah Lois Vaughan (March 27, 1924 – April 3, 1990) was an American jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to pro ...
,
Mal Waldron Malcolm Earl "Mal" Waldron (August 16, 1925 – December 2, 2002) was an American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger. He started playing professionally in New York in 1950, after graduating from college. In the following dozen years or so Wa ...

Mal Waldron
, and
Mary Lou Williams Mary Lou Williams (born Mary Elfrieda Scruggs; May 8, 1910 – May 28, 1981) was an American jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, in the late 19th and ea ...

Mary Lou Williams
.


The hits begin

In early 1949, a New Orleans distributor phoned Ertegun to obtain
Stick McGhee Granville Henry "Sticks" McGhee (March 23, 1918 – August 15, 1961) was an American jump blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, best known for his blues song "Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee", which he wrote with J. Mayo Williams Note: According ...
's "Drinking Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee", which was unavailable due to the closing of McGhee's previous label. Ertegun knew Stick's younger brother
Brownie McGhee Walter Brown "Brownie" McGhee (November 30, 1915 – February 16, 1996) was an American folk music Folk music includes #Traditional folk music, traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival ...
, with whom Stick happened to be staying, so he contacted the McGhee brothers and re-recorded the song. When released in February 1949, it became Atlantic's first hit, selling 400,000 copies, and reached No. 2 after spending almost six months on the ''
Billboard A billboard (also called a hoarding in the UK and many other parts of the world) is a large outdoor advertising Out-of-home (OOH) advertising, also called outdoor advertising, outdoor media, and out-of-home media, is advertising experienced ...
'' R&B chart – although McGhee himself earned just $10 for the session. Atlantic's fortunes rose rapidly: 187 songs were recorded in 1949, more than three times the amount from the previous two years, and received overtures for a manufacturing and distribution deal with
Columbia Columbia may refer to: * Columbia (personification), the historical female national personification of the United States, and a poetic name for the Americas Places North America Natural features * Columbia Plateau, a geologic and geographic regio ...

Columbia
, which would pay Atlantic a 3% royalty on every copy sold. Ertegun asked about artists' royalties, which he paid, and this surprised Columbia executives, who did not, and the deal was scuttled. On the recommendation of broadcaster
Willis Conover Willis Clark Conover, Jr. (December 18, 1920 – May 17, 1996) was a producer and broadcaster on the for over forty years. He produced jazz concerts at the , the , and for movies and television. By arranging concerts where people of all races ...
, Ertegun and Abramson visited
Ruth Brown Ruth Alston Brown (; January 12, 1928 – November 17, 2006) was an American singer-songwriter and actress, sometimes known as the " Queen of R&B". She was noted for bringing a pop music Pop is a genre of popular music that originated in its ...

Ruth Brown
at the Crystal Caverns club in Washington and invited her to audition for Atlantic. She was injured in a car accident en route to New York City, but Atlantic supported her for nine months and then signed her. "So Long", her first record for the label, was recorded with
Eddie Condon Albert Edwin "Eddie" Condon (November 16, 1905 – August 4, 1973) was an American jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in ...
's band on May 25, 1949.Grendysa, Peter; Pruter, Robert (1991). ''Atlantic Rhythm and Blues, 1947–1974''. Booklet notes (CD edition), Atlantic Records: 7 82305-2. The song reached No. 6 on the R&B chart. Brown recorded more than eighty songs for Atlantic, becoming its bestselling, most prolific musician of the period. So significant was Brown's success to Atlantic that the label became known colloquially as "The House That Ruth Built". Joe Morris, one of the label's earliest signings, scored a hit with his October 1950 song "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere", the first Atlantic record issued in
45rpm A phonograph disc record (also known as a gramophone disc record, especially in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language va ...

45rpm
format, which the company began pressing in January 1951. The Clovers' "Don't You Know I Love You" (composed by Ertegun) became the label's first R&B No. 1 in September 1951. A few weeks later Brown's "Teardrops from My Eyes" became its first million-selling record. She hit No. 1 again in March–April 1952 with "
5-10-15 Hours "5-10-15 Hours" is a rhythm-and-blues Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African-American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings ...
". "Daddy Daddy" reached No. 3 in September 1952, and " Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean" with
Connie Kay__NOTOC__ Conrad Henry Kirnon (April 27, 1927 – November 30, 1994) known professionally as Connie Kay, was an American jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, ...
on drums reached No. 1 in February and March 1953. After Brown left the label in 1961, her career declined, and she worked as a cleaner and bus driver to support her children. In the 1980s she sued Atlantic for unpaid royalties; although Atlantic, which prided itself on treating artists fairly, had stopped paying royalties to some musicians. Ertegun denied this was intentional. Brown received a voluntary payment of $20,000 and founded the
Rhythm and Blues Foundation The Rhythm and Blues Foundation is an independent United States, American nonprofit organization dedicated to the historical and cultural preservation of rhythm and blues music. The idea for the foundation came in 1987 during discussions about roy ...
in 1988 with a donation of $1.5 million from Ertegun. In 1952 Atlantic signed Ray Charles, whose hits included "
I Got a Woman #REDIRECT I Got a Woman #REDIRECT I Got a Woman "I Got a Woman" (originally titled "I've Got a Woman") is a song co-written and recorded by American R&B and soul In many religious, philosophical, and myth Myth is a folklore genre consis ...
", "
What'd I Say "What'd I Say" (or "What I Say") is an American rhythm and blues Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African-American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record co ...
", and "
Hallelujah I Love Her So "Hallelujah I Love Her So" is a single by American musician Ray Charles Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer. Among friends and fellow musicians he preferred bei ...
". Later that year The Clovers' "
One Mint Julep "One Mint Julep" is a rhythm and blues, R&B song, written and composed by Rudy Toombs, that became a 1952 hit for the Clovers. History "One Mint Julep" was recorded on the Atlantic Records label in New York City on December 19, 1951, and released ...
" reached No. 2. In 1953, after learning that singer Clyde McPhatter had been fired from
Billy Ward and His Dominoes Billy Ward and his Dominoes were an American R&B Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African-American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to descri ...

Billy Ward and His Dominoes
and was forming
The Drifters The Drifters are several American doo-wop Doo-wop (also spelled doowop and doo wop) is a genre of rhythm and blues music that originated among African-American youth in the 1940s, mainly in the large cities of the United States, including N ...

The Drifters
, Ertegun signed the group. Their single " Money Honey" became the biggest R&B hit of the year. Their records created some controversy: the suggestive "
Such A Night "Such a Night" is a popular music, popular song from 1953, song writer, written by Lincoln Chase and first recorded by The Drifters. The Drifters, featuring Clyde McPhatter, recorded the song in November 1953, and Atlantic Records released it ...
" was banned by radio station WXYZ in
Detroit, Michigan (strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrowing, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. The surface water generally flows at the same elevation on both sides and through the strait in either direction. Mo ...
, and "Honey Love" was banned in
Memphis, Tennessee Memphis is a city along the Mississippi River in southwestern Shelby County, Tennessee, United States. Its 2020 population was 633,104, making it Tennessee's List of largest cities and towns in Tennessee by population, second-most populous city ...
but both reached No. 1 on the ''Billboard'' R&B chart.


Tom Dowd

Recording engineer and producer
Tom Dowd Thomas John Dowd (October 20, 1925 – October 27, 2002) was an United States, American recording engineer and record producer, producer for Atlantic Records. He was credited with innovating the multitrack recording method. Dowd worked on a veritab ...
played a crucial role in Atlantic's success. He initially worked for Atlantic on a freelance basis, but within a few years he had been hired as the label's full-time staff engineer. His recordings for Atlantic and Stax influenced pop music. He had more hits than
George Martin Sir George Martin (3 January 19268 March 2016) was an English record producer, arrangement, arranger, composer, conducting, conductor, audio engineer, and musician. He was referred to as the "Fifth Beatle" in reference to his extensive involv ...

George Martin
and
Phil Spector Harvey Phillip Spector (December 26, 1939January 16, 2021) was an American record producer, musician, and songwriter who is best known for his innovative recording practices and entrepreneurship in the 1960s, followed decades later by his murde ...

Phil Spector
combined. Atlantic was one of the first independent labels to make recordings in stereo: Dowd used a portable stereo recorder which ran simultaneously with the studio's existing mono recorder. In 1953 (according to ''Billboard'') Atlantic was the first label to issue commercial LPs recorded in the experimental stereo system called
binaural recording File:Lautsprecherwiedergabe-Göttingen.svg, thumb Binaural recording is a method of Sound recording and reproduction, recording Sound recording, sound that uses two microphones, arranged with the intent to create a Three-dimensional space, 3-D ...
.Kramer 1958, p. 38. In this system, recordings were made using two microphones, spaced at approximately the distance between the human ears, and the left and right channels were recorded as two separate, parallel grooves. Playing them back required a turntable with a special tone-arm fitted with dual needles; it was not until around 1958 that the single stylus microgroove system (in which the two stereo channels were cut into either side of a single groove) became the industry standard. By the late 1950s stereo LPs and turntables were being introduced. Atlantic's early stereo recordings included "Lover's Question" by Clyde McPhatter, "
What Am I Living For "What Am I Living For" is a song written by Fred Jay and Art Harris and performed by Chuck Willis featuring the Reggie Obrecht Orchestra and Chorus. It reached No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, U.S. R&B chart and #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, U.S ...
" by
Chuck Willis Harold "Chuck" Willis (January 31, 1926 – April 10, 1958) was an American blues Blues is a music genre and musical form which was originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s by African-Americans from roots in Plantati ...
, "I Cried a Tear" by LaVern Baker, "Splish Splash" by Bobby Darin, "Yakety Yak" by the Coasters and "What'd I Say" by Ray Charles. Although these were primarily 45rpm mono singles for much of the 1950s Dowd stockpiled his "parallel" stereo takes for future release. In 1968 the label issued ''History of Rhythm and Blues, Volume 4'' in stereo. Stereo versions of Ray Charles "What'd I Say" and "Night Time is the Right Time" were included on the Atlantic anthology ''The Birth of Soul: The Complete Atlantic Rhythm & Blues Recordings, 1952–1959''. Atlantic's New York studio was the first in America to install
multitrack recording Multitrack recording (MTR), also known as multitracking or tracking, is a method of sound recording Sound recording and reproduction is an electrical Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and mo ...
machines, developed by the
Ampex Ampex is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States ( ...
company. Bobby Darin's "Splish, Splash" was the first song to be recorded on an 8-track recorder. It was not until the mid-1960s that multitrack recorders became the norm in English studios and EMI's
Abbey Road Studios Abbey Road Studios (formerly EMI Recording Studios) is a recording studio at 3 Abbey Road ''Abbey Road'' is the eleventh studio album by the English Rock music, rock band the Beatles, released on 26 September 1969 by Apple Records. Nam ...

Abbey Road Studios
did not install 8-track facilities until 1968. Atlantic entered the LP market early: its first was ''This Is My Beloved'' (March 1949), a 10" album of poetry by
Walter Benton Walter Benton (September 8, 1930 in Los Angeles – August 14, 2000) was an American jazz tenor saxophonist. Benton first began playing saxophone as a high schooler in Los Angeles. After three years of service in the United States Army, Army in ...
that was narrated by
John Dall John Dall (born John Dall Thompson; May 26, 1920 – January 15, 1971) was an American actor. Primarily a stage actor, he is best remembered today for two film roles: the cool-minded intellectual killer in Alfred Hitchcock Sir Alfred Joseph ...

John Dall
with music by
Vernon Duke Vernon Duke ( 16 January 1969) was an American composer/songwriter who also wrote under his birth name, Vladimir Dukelsky. He is best known for "Taking a Chance on Love," with lyrics by Ted Fetter and John La Touche (musician), John Latouche (194 ...

Vernon Duke
. In 1951, Atlantic was one of the first independent labels to
press Press commonly refers to: *Pressure, or the act of pressing *Printing press, commonly called "the press" *Print media, commonly called "the press" after the printing press Press may also refer to: People * Press (surname), a family name of English ...
records in the 45rpm single format. By 1956 the 45 had surpassed the 78 in sales for singles. In April of that year, Miriam (Abramson) Bienstock reported to ''Billboard'' that Atlantic was selling 75% of its singles as 45s. During the previous year, 78s had outsold 45s by a ratio of two to one.


Jerry Wexler

In February 1953, Herb Abramson was drafted into the U.S. Army. He moved to Germany, where he served in the Army Dental Corps,Broven 2009, p. 66. although he retained his post as president of Atlantic on full pay. Ertegun hired ''Billboard'' reporter
Jerry Wexler Gerald "Jerry" Wexler (January 10, 1917 – August 15, 2008) was a music journalist turned music producer, and was one of the main record industry players behind music from the 1950s through the 1980s. He coined the term " rhythm and blues", ...
in June 1953. Wexler is credited with coining the term "
rhythm & blues Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African-American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African ...
" to replace "
race music Race, RACE or "The Race" may refer to: * Race (biology), an informal taxonomic classification within a species, generally within a sub-species * Race (human categorization), classification of humans into groups based on physical traits, and/or so ...
". He was appointed vice-president and purchased 13% of the company's stock. Wexler and Ertegun formed a close partnership which, in collaboration with Tom Dowd, produced thirty R&B hits. Wexler's success for Atlantic was the result of going outside jazz to sign acts who combined jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues, such as Ray Charles, Joe Turner, and Aretha Franklin. Ertegun and Wexler realized many R&B recordings by black musicians were being covered by white performers, often with greater chart success. LaVern Baker had a No. 4 R&B hit with " Tweedlee Dee", but a rival version by
Georgia Gibbs Georgia Gibbs (born Frieda Lipschitz, August 17, 1918December 9, 2006) was an American popular singer and vocal entertainer rooted in jazz. Already singing publicly in her early teens, Gibbs first achieved acclaim (and notoriety) in the mid-1950s ...
went to No. 2 on the pop chart. Big Joe Turner's April 1954 song "
Shake, Rattle and Roll "Shake, Rattle and Roll" is a twelve bar blues-form song, written in 1954 by Jesse Stone (usually credited as Charles F. Calhoun, his songwriting name). The original recording by Big Joe Turner is ranked number 127 on the ''Rolling Stone'' magaz ...
" was a No. 1 R&B hit, but it only reached No. 22 on the pop chart.
Bill Haley & His Comets Bill Haley & His Comets were an American rock and roll band, founded in 1952 and continued until Haley's death in 1981. The band was also known as Bill Haley and the Comets and Bill Haley's Comets (and variations thereof). From late 1954 to lat ...
's version reached No. 7, selling over one million copies and becoming the bestselling song of the year for Decca. In July 1954, Wexler and Ertegun wrote a prescient article for ''
Cash Box ''Cashbox'', also known as ''Cash Box'', was a music industry The music industry consists of the companies and independent artists that earn money by creating new songs and pieces and arranging live concerts and shows, audio and video record ...
'' devoted to what they called "cat music"; the same month, Atlantic had its first major "crossover" hit on the ''Billboard'' pop chart when the "
Sh-Boom "Sh-Boom" (sometimes referred to as "Life Could Be a Dream") is an early doo-wop Doo-wop (also spelled doowop and doo wop) is a genre of rhythm and blues Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originate ...
" by The Chords reached No. 5 (although
The Crew-Cuts The Crew-Cuts were a Canadian vocal quartet, that made a number of popular records that charted in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contigu ...
' version went to No. 1). Atlantic missed an important signing in 1955 when
Sun The Sun is the star A star is an astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma (physics), plasma held together by its own gravity. The List of nearest stars and brown dwarfs, nearest star to Earth is the Sun. Many othe ...
owner
Sam Phillips Samuel Cornelius Phillips (January 5, 1923 – July 30, 2003) was an American record producer. He was the founder of Sun Records Sun Records is an American independent record label An independent record label (or indie label) is a record ...
sold
Elvis Presley Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) was an American singer and actor. Dubbed the " King of Rock and Roll", he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century. His energized interpreta ...

Elvis Presley
's recording contract in a bidding war between labels. Atlantic offered $25,000 which, Ertegun later noted, "was all the money we had then."Wade & Picardie 1990, p. 99. But they were outbid by
RCA The RCA Corporation was a major American electronics company, which was founded as the Radio Corporation of America in 1919. It was initially a patent trust owned by General Electric General Electric Company (GE) is an American multinatio ...

RCA
's offer of $45,000. In 1990 Ertegun remarked, "The president of RCA at the time had been extensively quoted in ''Variety'' damning R&B music as immoral. He soon stopped when RCA signed Elvis Presley."


Nesuhi Ertegun

Ahmet's older brother Nesuhi was hired in January 1955. He had been living in Los Angeles for several years and had intermittent contact with his younger brother. But when Ahmet learned that Nesuhi had been offered a partnership in Atlantic's rival
Imperial Records Imperial Records is an American record company and label A label (as distinct from signage) is a piece of paper, plastic film, cloth, metal, or other material affixed to a Packaging and labelling, container or Product (business), product, o ...
, he and Wexler convinced Nesuhi to join Atlantic instead. Nesuhi became head of artists and repertoire (
A&R Artists and repertoire (colloquially abbreviated to A&R) is the division of a record label or music publishing company that is responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists (singers, instrumentalists ...
), led the label's jazz division, and built a roster that included
Shorty Rogers Milton "Shorty" Rogers (born Milton Rajonsky; April 14, 1924 – November 7, 1994) was one of the principal creators of West Coast jazz. He played trumpet and flugelhorn and was in demand for his skills as an arranger. Biography Rogers wor ...
,
Jimmy Giuffre James Peter Giuffre (, ; April 26, 1921 – April 24, 2008) was an American jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centurie ...
,
Herbie Mann Herbert Jay Solomon (April 16, 1930 – July 1, 2003), known professionally by his stage name Herbie Mann, was an American jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States ...

Herbie Mann
,
Les McCann Leslie Coleman McCann (born September 23, 1935) is an American jazz pianist and vocalist.Feather, Leonard & Gitler, Ira (2007) ''The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz'', p448. Oxford University Press. Early life Les McCann was born in Lexingt ...

Les McCann
,
Charles Mingus Charles Mingus Jr. (April 22, 1922 – January 5, 1979) was an American jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with ...
, and
John Coltrane John William Coltrane (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967) was an American jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in ...
. By 1958 Atlantic was America's second-largest independent jazz label. Nesuhi was also in charge of LP production. He was credited with improving the production, packaging, and originality of Atlantic's LPs. He deleted the old '100' and '400' series of 10" albums and the earlier 12" albums in Atlantic's catalog, starting the '1200' series, which sold for $4.98, with Shorty Rogers' ''The Swingin' Mr Rogers''. In 1956 he started the '8000' popular series (selling for $3.98) for the label's few R&B albums, reserving the 1200 series for jazz.
Joel Dorn Joel Dorn (April 7, 1942 – December 17, 2007) was an American jazz and R&B music producer and record label entrepreneur. He worked at Atlantic Records, and later founded the 32 Jazz, Label M, and Hyena Records labels. He called himself "The M ...
became Nesuhi's assistant after his successful production of
Hubert Laws Hubert Laws (born November 10, 1939) is an American flutist The flute is a family of musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be c ...

Hubert Laws
' album ''The Laws of Jazz''.


Herb Abramson departs

When Abramson returned from military service in 1955, he realized that he had been replaced by Wexler as Ahmet's partner. Abramson did not get along with either Wexler or Nesuhi Ertegun, and he had returned from military service with a German girlfriend, which precipitated his divorce from Miriam, a minor stockholder and Atlantic's business and publishing manager. By 1958, relations between Abramson and his partners had broken down; in December 1958 a $300,000 buy-out was arranged; his stock was split between Nesuhi Ertegun and Abramson's ex-wife Miriam, who had in the meantime remarried to music publisher
Freddy BienstockFreddy Bienstock (April 24, 1923 - September 20, 2009) was an American music publisher who built his career in music by being the person responsible for soliciting and selecting songs for Elvis Presley Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935&nbs ...
(later the owner of the Carlin Music / Chappell Music publishing empire). Abramson's departure opened the way for Ahmet Ertegun to take over as president of the label. The roles of the other executives with Abramson's departure were Wexler as executive vice-president and general manager, Nesuhi Ertegun as executive vice-president in charge of the LP department and Miriam Bienstock as vice-president and also president of Atlantic's music publishing arm Progressive Music with Wexler as executive vice-president and the Ertegun brothers vice-president of Progressive.


Expansion

Atlantic played a major role in popularizing the genre that Jerry Wexler dubbed rhythm & blues, and it profited handsomely. The market for these records exploded during late 1953 and early 1954 as R&B hits crossed over to the mainstream (i.e. white) audience. In its tenth anniversary feature on Atlantic, ''Billboard'' noted, "... a very big R&B record might achieve 250,000 sales, but from this point on (1953–54), the industry began to see million sellers, one after the other, in the R&B field". ''Billboard'' said Atlantic's "fresh sound" and the quality of its recordings, arrangements, and musicians was a great advance from standard R&B records. For five years Atlantic "dominated the rhythm and blues chart with its roster of powerhouse artists". Beginning in 1954, Atlantic created or acquired several subsidiary labels, the first being Cat Records. By the mid-1950s Atlantic had an informal agreement with the French label Barclay Records, Barclay, and the two companies regularly exchanged titles, usually jazz recordings. Atlantic also began to get recordings distributed in the United Kingdom, first through EMI on a 'one-off' basis. But in September 1955 Miriam Abramson traveled to the UK and signed a distribution deal with Decca. Miriam recalled, "I would deal with people there who were not really comfortable with women in business, so...we would do business very quickly and get it over with." A subsidiary label, Atco Records, Atco, was established in 1955 to keep Abramson involved. After a slow start, Atco had considerable success with Bobby Darin. His early releases were unsuccessful, and Abramson planned to drop him. But when Ertegun offered him another chance, the result was "Splish Splash (song), Splish Splash", which Darin had written in 12 minutes. The song sold 100,000 copies in the first month and became a million-seller. "Queen of the Hop" made the Top 10 on both the US pop and R&B charts and charted in the UK. "Dream Lover" reached No. 2 in the US and No. 1 in the UK and became a multi-million seller. "Mack the Knife" (1959) went to No. 1 in both the US and the UK, sold over 2 million copies, and won the 1960 Grammy Award for Record of the Year. "Beyond the Sea (song), Beyond the Sea" became Darin's fourth consecutive Top 10 hit in the US and UK. He signed with Capitol Records, Capitol and moved for Hollywood to attempt a movie career, but hits such as "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" and "Things (Bobby Darin song), Things" continued to benefit Atco through 1962. Darin returned to Atlantic in 1965.


Leiber and Stoller

Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote "Smokey Joe's Cafe", which became a hit for The Robins. Their label Spark was bought by Atlantic, and they were hired as America's first independent record producers, free to produce for other labels. Two members of The Robins formed The Coasters and recorded hits for Atlantic, such as "Down in Mexico" and "Young Blood (The Coasters song), Young Blood". "Yakety Yak" became Atlantic's first No. 1 pop hit. Leiber and Stoller also wrote the hit "Ruby Baby" for
The Drifters The Drifters are several American doo-wop Doo-wop (also spelled doowop and doo wop) is a genre of rhythm and blues music that originated among African-American youth in the 1940s, mainly in the large cities of the United States, including N ...

The Drifters
. Record producer
Phil Spector Harvey Phillip Spector (December 26, 1939January 16, 2021) was an American record producer, musician, and songwriter who is best known for his innovative recording practices and entrepreneurship in the 1960s, followed decades later by his murde ...

Phil Spector
moved to New York to work with Leiber and Stoller. He learned his trade at Trey Records, a label in California owned by Lester Sill and Lee Hazlewood and distributed by Atlantic. Sill recommended Spector to Leiber and Stoller, who assigned him to produce "Corrine, Corrina" by Ray Peterson and "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" by Curtis Lee. Both became hits, and Atlantic hired him as a staff producer. Ahmet Ertegun liked him, but Leiber said, "He wasn't likable. He was funny, he was amusing—but he wasn't nice." Wexler disliked him. Miriam Bienstock called him "a pain in the neck". When Spector criticized Bobby Darin's songwriting, Darin had him thrown out of the house. Atlantic tolerated Spector but with diminishing returns. He produced "Twist and Shout" for The Top Notes, and it flopped. Songwriter Bert Berns hated Spector's arrangement and thought it ruined the song, so Berns re-recorded it with The Isley Brothers and it became a hit. During his short time at Atlantic, Spector produced music for LaVern Baker, Ruth Brown, Jean DuShon, and Billy Storm. In 1961, he left the label, returned to Los Angeles, and founded Philles Records with Lester Sill. Spector became one of the most successful record producers of the 1960s. Although Leiber and Stoller wrote many popular songs for Atlantic, their relationship with the label was deteriorating in 1962. The breaking point came when they asked for a producer's royalty. It was granted informally, but their accountant insisted on a written contract and an audit of Atlantic's accounts. The audit revealed Leiber and Stoller had been underpaid by $18,000. Although Leiber considered dropping the matter, Stoller pressed Atlantic for payment. Wexler exploded and replied the payment would mean the end of their relationship with the label. Leiber and Stoller backed down, but the relationship ended anyway. Their assignment to work on The Drifter's next recording was given to Phil Spector. Leiber and Stoller worked briefly for United Artists Records, United Artists, then started Red Bird Records, Red Bird with George Goldner. They had hits with "Chapel of Love" by The Dixie Cups and "Leader of the Pack" by The Shangri-Las, but Red Bird's finances were precarious. In 1964 they approached Jerry Wexler and proposed a merger with Atlantic. When interviewed in 1990 for Ertegun's biography, Wexler declined to discuss the matter, but Ertegun claimed these negotiations were a plan to buy him out. In September 1964, the Ertegun brothers and Wexler were in the process of buying out the company's other two shareholders, Sabit and Bienstock,Broven 2009, p. 71. and it was proposed that Leiber and Stoller buy Sabit's shares. Leiber, Stoller, Goldner, and Wexler suggested their plan to Ertegun at a lunch meeting at the Plaza Hotel in New York. Leiber and Stoller told Ertegun they had no intention of buying him out, but Ertegun was aggravated by Goldner's attitude and was convinced Wexler was conspiring with them. Wexler told Ertegun if he refused, the deal would be done without him. But the Ertegun brothers held the majority of stock while Wexler controlled about 20 percent. Ertegun started lifelong grudges against Leiber and Stoller, and his relationship with Wexler was damaged.


Stax

Atlantic was doing so well in early 1959 that some scheduled releases were held back, and the company enjoyed two successive months of gross sales of over $1 million that summer, thanks to hits by The Coasters, The Drifters, LaVern Baker, Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, and Clyde McPhatter. Months later the company was reeling from the successive loss of its two biggest artists, Bobby Darin and Ray Charles, who together accounted for one-third of sales. Darin moved to Los Angeles and signed with Capitol. Charles signed a contract with ABC-Paramount Records, ABC-Paramount that included higher royalties, a production deal, profit-sharing, and eventual ownership of his master tapes. "I thought we were going to die", Wexler recalled. In 1990 he and Ertegun disputed the content of Charles's contract, which caused a rift. Ertegun remained friendly with Bobby Darin, who returned to Atlantic in 1966. Ray Charles returned to Atlantic in 1977. In 1960, Atlantic's Memphis distributor Buster Williams contacted Wexler and told him he was pressing large quantities of "Cause I Love You", a duet between Carla Thomas and her father Rufus Thomas, Rufus which was released by the small label Satellite. Wexler contacted the co-owner of Satellite, Jim Stewart (record producer), Jim Stewart, who agreed to lease the record to Atlantic for $1000 plus a small royalty—the first money the label had ever made. The deal included a $5000 payment against a five-year option on all other records. Satellite was renamed
StaxStreaming API for XML (StAX) is an application programming interface (API) to read and write XML documents, originating from the Java (programming language), Java programming language community. Traditionally, XML APIs are either: * DOM based - the ...

Stax
after the owners, Stewart and Axton.Wade & Picardie 1990, p. 130. The deal marked the start of a successful eight-year association between the two labels, giving Stax access to Atlantic's promotions and distribution. Wexler recalled, "We didn't pay for the masters...Jim paid for the masters and then he would send us a finished tape and we would put it out. Our costs began at the production level—the pressing, and distribution, and promotion, and advertising."Wade & Picardie 1990, p. 131. The deal to distribute Satellite's "Last Night (Mar-Keys composition), Last Night" by The Mar-Keys on the Satellite label marked the first time Atlantic began marketing outside tracks on a non-Atlantic label. Atlantic began pressing and distributing Stax records. Wexler sent Tom Dowd to upgrade Stax's recording equipment and facilities. Wexler was impressed by the cooperative atmosphere at the Stax studios and by its racially integrated house band, which he called "an unthinkably great band". He brought Atlantic musicians to Memphis to record. Stewart and Wexler hired Al Bell, a disk jockey at a radio station in Washington D.C., to take over promotion of Stax releases. Bell was the first African-American partner in the label. An after-hours jam by members of the Stax house band resulted in "Green Onions". The single was issued in August 1962 and became the biggest instrumental hit of the year, reaching No. 1 on the R&B chart and No. 3 on the pop chart, selling over one million copies. Over the next five years Stax and its subsidiary Volt Records, Volt provided Atlantic with many hits, such as "Respect (song), Respect" by Otis Redding, "Knock on Wood (Eddie Floyd song), Knock on Wood" by Eddie Floyd, "Hold On, I'm Comin' (song), Hold On, I'm Comin'" by Sam and Dave, and "Mustang Sally (song), Mustang Sally" by Wilson Pickett.


Soul years

Aretha Franklin signed with Atlantic in 1966 after her contract with Columbia expired. Columbia tried to market her as a jazz singer. Jerry Wexler said, "we're gonna put her back in church." She rose to fame quickly and was called the Queen of Soul. Wexler oversaw production himself at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The result was seven consecutive singles that made both the US Pop and Soul Top 10: "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)" (Soul No. 1, Pop No. 9), "Respect (song), Respect" (Soul and Pop No. 1), "Baby, I Love You" (Soul No. 1, Pop No. 4), "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" (Soul No. 2, Pop No. 8), "Chain of Fools" (Soul No. 1, Pop No. 2), "(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone, Since You've Been Gone" (Soul No. 1, Pop No. 5), and "Think (Aretha Franklin song), Think" (Soul No. 1, Pop No. 7). In late 1961 singer Solomon Burke arrived at Jerry Wexler's office unannounced. Wexler was a fan of Burke's and had long wanted to sign him so when Burke told Wexler his contract with his former label had expired Wexler replied: "You're home. I'm signing you today". The first song Wexler produced with Burke was "Just Out of Reach", which became a big hit in September 1961. The soul/country & western crossover predated Ray Charles' similar venture by more than 6 months. Burke became a consistent big seller through the mid-1960s and scored hits on Atlantic into 1968. In 1962 folk music was booming and the label came very close to signing Peter, Paul & Mary; although Wexler and Ertegun pursued them vigorously the deal fell through at the last minute and they later discovered music publisher Artie Mogull had introduced their manager Albert Grossman to Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. executive Herman Starr, who had made the trio an irresistible offer that gave them complete creative control over the recording and packaging of their music. The mid-1960s British Invasion led Atlantic to change its British distributor. Decca had refused access to its British acts, who usually appeared in the US on the London Records, London subsidiary. In 1966 Atlantic signed a licensing deal with Polydor Records, Polydor which included the band Cream (band), Cream, whose debut album was released by Atco in 1966. In 1967 the group traveled to Atlantic's studio in New York City to record ''Disraeli Gears'' with Tom Dowd; it became a Top 5 LP in both the US and the UK, with the single "Sunshine of Your Love" reaching No. 5 on the ''Billboard'' Hot 100. Wexler dismissed developments in pop music, dubbing the musicians "the rockoids". But Atlantic profited from moving into rock music in the 1970s when it signed Bad Company,
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin were an English Rock music, rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones (musician), John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. With a ...
, and
Yes Yes or YES may refer to: * An affirmative particle in the English language; see yes and no Education * YES Prep Public Schools, Houston, Texas, US * YES (Your Extraordinary Saturday), a learning program from the Minnesota Institute for Talented ...
.


Acquisition by Warner Bros.-Seven Arts

Despite the huge success Atlantic was enjoying with its own artists and through its deal with Stax, by 1967 Jerry Wexler was seriously concerned about the disintegration of the old order of independent record companies and, fearing for the label's future, he began agitating for it to be sold to a larger company. Label President Ahmet Ertegun still had no desire to sell, but the balance of power had changed since the abortive takeover attempt of 1962; Atlantic's original investor Dr Vahdi Sabit and minority stockholder Miriam Bienstock had both been bought out in September 1964 and the other remaining partner, Nesuhi Ertegun, was eventually convinced to side with Wexler. Since they jointly held more stock, Ahmet was obliged to agree to the sale. In October 1967 Atlantic was sold to
Warner Bros.-Seven Arts Warner Bros.-Seven Arts, Inc. was an American entertainment company active from 1967 until 1969. History Seven Arts Productions Combined With Warner Bros. Pictures for $32 million in November 1966. The merger between the two companies was comp ...
for US$17.5 million, although all the partners later agreed that it was a poor deal that greatly undervalued Atlantic's true worth. Initially, Atlantic and Atco operated entirely separately from the group's other labels, Warner Bros. Records and Reprise Records, and management did not interfere with the music division, since the ailing movie division was losing money, while the Warner recording division was booming – by mid-1968 Warner's recording and publishing interests were generating 74% of the group's total profits. The sale of Atlantic Records activated a clause in the distribution agreement with Stax Records calling for renegotiation of the distribution deal and at this point, the Stax partners discovered that the deal gave Atlantic ownership of all the Stax recordings Atlantic distributed. The new Warner owners refused to relinquish ownership of the Stax masters, so the distribution deal ended in May 1968. Atlantic continues to hold the rights to Stax recordings it distributed in the 1960s. In the wake of the takeover, Jerry Wexler's influence in the company rapidly diminished; by his own admission, he and Ertegun had run Atlantic as "utmost despots" but in the new corporate structure, he found himself unwilling to accept the delegation of responsibility that his executive role dictated. He was also alienated from the "rockoid" white acts that were quickly becoming the label's most profitable commodities and dispirited by the rapidly waning fortunes of the black acts he had championed, such as Ben E. King and Solomon Burke. Wexler ultimately decided to leave New York and move to Florida. Following his departure, Ertegun—who had previously taken little interest in Atlantic's business affairs—took decisive control of the label and quickly became a major force in the expanding Warner music group. During 1968 Atlantic established a new subsidiary label, Cotillion Records. The label was originally formed as an outlet for blues and deep Southern soul; its first single, Otis Clay's version of "She's About A Mover", was an R&B hit. Cotillion's catalog quickly expanded to include progressive rock, folk-rock, gospel, jazz and comedy. In 1976, the label started focusing on disco and R&B. Among its acts were the post-Curtis Mayfield The Impressions, Impressions, Slave (band), Slave, Brook Benton, Jean Knight, Mass Production (band), Mass Production, Sister Sledge, The Velvet Underground, Stacy Lattisaw, Lou Donaldson, Mylon LeFevre, Stevie Woods (musician), Stevie Woods, Johnny Gill, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Garland Green, The Dynamics, The Fabulous Counts, and The Fatback Band. Cotillion was also responsible for launching the career of Luther Vandross, who recorded for the label as part of the trio Luther. Cotillion also released the triple-albums soundtrack of the Woodstock festival film in 1970. From 1970 it also distributed Embryo Records, founded by jazz flautist
Herbie Mann Herbert Jay Solomon (April 16, 1930 – July 1, 2003), known professionally by his stage name Herbie Mann, was an American jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States ...

Herbie Mann
after his earlier Atlantic contract had expired. In addition to establishing Cotillion, Atlantic began expanding its own roster to include rock, soul/rock, progressive rock, British bands and singer songwriters. Two female artists were personally signed by Wexler, with album releases in 1969, Dusty Springfield (''Dusty in Memphis'') and Lotti Golden (''Motor-Cycle (album), Motor-Cycle''),Barry, Thomas (September 9, 1969). "The Salty Socking Soul of Lotti Golden". ''Look (American magazine), Look'', pp. 76, 78. although Golden also had a close working relationship with Ertegun, who was instrumental in her signing with the label. By 1969, the Atlantic 8000 series (1968–72) consisted of R&B, rock, soul/rock and psychedelic acts. Other releases that year include albums by
Aretha Franklin Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942August 16, 2018) was an American singer, songwriter, actress, pianist, and civil rights activist. Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel Gospel originally meant the Christian message ("the gos ...

Aretha Franklin
(''Soul '69''),
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin were an English Rock music, rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones (musician), John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. With a ...
(''Led Zeppelin (album), Led Zeppelin''), Don Covay (''The House of Blue Lights (album), House of Blue Lights''), Boz Scaggs (''Boz Scaggs (album), Boz Scaggs''), Roberta Flack (''First Take (album), First Take''),
Wilson Pickett Wilson Pickett (March 18, 1941 – January 19, 2006) was an American singer and songwriter. A major figure in the development of American soul music, Pickett recorded over 50 songs which made the US charts, many of which crossed over to the . ...

Wilson Pickett
(''Hey Jude (Wilson Pickett album), Hey Jude''), Mott the Hoople (''Mott the Hoople (album), Mott the Hoople''), and Black Pearl (band), Black Pearl (''Black Pearl''). In 1969 Warner Bros.-Seven Arts was taken over by the Kinney National Company, and in the early 1970s the group was rebadged as Warner Communications. After buying Elektra Records and its sister label Nonesuch Records in 1970, Kinney combined the operations of all of its record labels under a new holding company, Warner Music Group, WEA, and also known as
Warner Music Group Warner Music Group Corp. (commonly abbreviated as WMG and simply referred to as Warner Music) is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Mult ...
. WEA was also used as a label for distributing the company's artists outside North America. In January 1970, Ahmet Ertegun was successful in his executive battle against Warner Bros. Records President Mike Maitland to keep Atlantic Records autonomous and as a result, Maitland was fired by Kinney president Steve Ross (Time Warner CEO), Steve Ross. Ertegun recommended Mo Ostin to succeed Maitland as Warner Bros. Records president. With Ertegun's power at Warners now secure, Atlantic was able to maintain autonomy through the parent company reorganizations and continue to do their own marketing, while WEA handled distribution.


The rock era

Some acts on the Atlantic roster in this period were British (including Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Yes, Bad Company and Phil Collins) and this was largely due to Ertegun. According to Greenberg, Ertegun had long seen the UK as a source of untapped talent. At his urging, Greenberg visited the UK six or seven times every year in search of acts to sign to the label. For much of its early history, Jerry Wexler had been managers of the label, while Ertegun had concentrated on A&R and had less interest in the business side. But that changed after the sale to Warner. Although Ertegun had been forced into accepting the sale, he turned the situation to his advantage. He gained executive control of the label and influenced the Warner group. By contrast, Wexler was disenchanted by Atlantic's move into rock; he left in 1975. Wexler's protégé Jerry L. Greenberg replaced him and played a role in Atlantic's success during the 1970s. In seven years, Greenberg went from personal assistant to president of the label. Wexler had hired Greenberg and acted as his mentor, teaching him the daily operations of the record business. From Ertegun he learned how to treat musicians.


Signing Led Zeppelin and CSN

In 1968 Peter Grant (music manager), Peter Grant flew to New York with tapes of the debut album by British rock band
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin were an English Rock music, rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones (musician), John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. With a ...
. Ertegun and Wexler knew of the group's leader, Jimmy Page, through The Yardbirds, and their favorable opinion was reinforced by Dusty Springfield, who recommended Atlantic sign the band. Atlantic signed the band to an exclusive five-year contract, one of the "most substantial" in the label's history Zeppelin recorded for Atlantic from 1968 to 1973. After the contract expired, they founded their label Swan Song Records, Swan Song and signed a distribution deal with Atlantic after being turned down by other labels. In 1969 Stephen Stills was still signed to Atlantic under the contract dating from his time with Buffalo Springfield. His agent David Geffen went to Wexler to ask for Stills to be released from his Atlantic contract because Geffen wanted Stills' new group to sign with Columbia. Wexler lost his temper and threw Geffen out of his office, but Geffen called Ahmet Ertegun the next day, and Ertegun persuaded Geffen to convince Clive Davis at Columbia to let Atlantic sign Crosby, Stills & Nash. The trio was formed following a chance meeting between members of three leading 1960s pop groups – Stephen Stills, David Crosby of The Byrds and Graham Nash of The Hollies. Stills and Crosby had been friends since the early 1960s; Nash had first met Crosby in the mid-1960s when The Byrds toured the UK, and he renewed the friendship when The Hollies toured the US in mid-1968. By this time creative tensions within The Hollies were coming to a head, and Nash had already decided to leave the group. Fate intervened during the Hollies US tour, when Nash reunited with Crosby and met Stephen Stills (ex-Buffalo Springfield) at a party at the Los Angeles home of Cass Elliott in July 1968. After Crosby and Stills sang Stills' new composition "You Don't Have To Cry" that evening, Nash asked them to repeat it, and chimed in with an impromptu third harmony part. The trio's unique vocal chemistry was instantly apparent, so when Nash quit the Hollies in August 1968 and relocated to Los Angeles, the three immediately formed a trio, Crosby, Stills & Nash. After surprisingly failing their audition for Apple Records, thanks to Ertegun's intervention and intense negotiations with David Geffen, who represented Crosby and Nash, as well as Stills, they ultimately signed with Atlantic, who gave them virtually complete freedom to record their first album. The signing was complicated by the fact that Nash was still under contract to Epic Records (The Hollies' US distributor), but Ertegun used his diplomatic prowess to overcome this by arranging a 'swap' – he released former Buffalo Springfield member Richie Furay from his Atlantic contract, allowing Furay's new group Poco to sign to Epic, and in exchange Columbia Records (the parent company of Epic) allowed Nash to sign to Atlantic. In the event, Ertegun and Atlantic were the clear winners. Poco achieved moderate success for Epic, but Crosby, Stills & Nash's self-titled Crosby, Stills & Nash (album), debut album (released in May 1969) became a huge and enduring hit, reaching #6 on the ''Billboard'' album chart, spawning two US Top 40 singles, becoming a multi-platinum seller and eventually earning a place in the ''Rolling Stone'' list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Hot on the heels of the huge success of CSNY and Led Zeppelin, British band
Yes Yes or YES may refer to: * An affirmative particle in the English language; see yes and no Education * YES Prep Public Schools, Houston, Texas, US * YES (Your Extraordinary Saturday), a learning program from the Minnesota Institute for Talented ...
rapidly established themselves as one of the leading groups in the burgeoning progressive rock genre, and their success also played a significant part in establishing the primacy of the long-playing album as the major sales format for rock music in the 1970s. After several lineup changes during 1969–70, the band settled into its "classic" incarnation, with guitarist Steve Howe (guitarist), Steve Howe and keyboard player Rick Wakeman, who both joined during 1971. Although the extended length of much of their material made it somewhat difficult to promote the band with single releases, their live prowess gained them an avid following and their albums were hugely successful – their third LP ''The Yes Album'' (1971), which featured the debut of new guitarist Steve Howe (guitarist), Steve Howe, became their first big hit, reaching #4 in the UK and just scraping onto the chart in the US at #40. From this point, and notwithstanding the impact of the Punk rock, punk/New wave music, new wave movement in the late 1970s, the band enjoyed an extraordinary run of success—beginning with their fourth album ''Fragile (Yes album), Fragile'', each of the eleven albums they released between 1971 and 1991 (including the lavishly packaged live triple-album ''Yessongs'') made the Top 20 in the US and the UK, and the double-LP ''Tales of Topographic Oceans'' (1973) and ''Going For The One'' (1977) both reached #1 in the UK. Much of Atlantic's renewed success as a rock label in the late 1970s can be attributed to the efforts of renowned A&R manager John Kalodner. In 1974 the former photographer, record store manager and music critic joined Atlantic's New York publicity department. In 1975 Kalodner moved to the A&R department, rose rapidly through the ranks, and in 1976 he was promoted to become Atlantic's first West Coast director of A&R. Over the next four years he was instrumental in signing a string of major acts including Foreigner (band), Foreigner, AC/DC, Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins. Kalodner built his reputation by signing acts that other labels had turned down, and perhaps the most significant example of his achievements in this area was his championing of the Anglo-American band Foreigner (band), Foreigner. The group was the brainchild of expatriate British musicians Mick Jones (Foreigner), Mick Jones (ex Spooky Tooth) and Ian McDonald (musician), Ian McDonald, one of the founding members of King Crimson. The demo tapes of the songs that eventually became their debut album (including the song "Feels Like The First Time") were famously rejected by almost every major label, including Atlantic – although their tenacious manager Bud Prager later revealed that, in retaliation for a previous bad deal, he deliberately didn't approach CBS ("They had screwed me out of a lot of money, so I figured I would screw them out of Foreigner. The band was never even offered to them.") Prager persisted with Atlantic, even though their A&R department and label President Jerry Greenberg repeatedly rejected Foreigner; it was Kalodner's dogged belief in the group (and a live audition) that finally convinced Greenberg to allow Kalodner to sign them and take them on as his personal project. Even then, Kalodner was turned down by twenty-six producers before he found someone willing to take on the project. Despite all the resistance, Kalodner's belief in Foreigner was totally vindicated by the group's massive success – their 1976 debut single "Feels Like The First Time" reached #4 on the Billboard singles chart, their self-titled debut album sold more than 4 million copies, and the subsequent singles from the album kept the group in the US charts continuously for more than a year. In the years that followed, Foreigner became one of Atlantic's biggest successes, and one of the biggest-selling groups in history, scoring a string of international hits and selling more than 80 million albums worldwide, including 37.5 million albums in the US alone. In 1978, Atlantic finally broke the leading UK progressive group Genesis (band), Genesis as a major act in the US. Ahmet Ertegun had first seen them perform in the Midwest on one of their early American tours, and it was on this occasion that he also became an ardent fan of their drummer/vocalist, Phil Collins. Jerry Greenberg signed the group to Atlantic in the US in 1973 on Ertegun's advice, but although they were very successful in Europe, Genesis remained at best a "cult" act in America for most of the Seventies. In the meantime, original lead singer Peter Gabriel had left the group in 1975, followed in 1977 by lead guitarist Steve Hackett, reducing the group to a three-piece. Ertegun was directly involved in the recording of the band's 1978 album ''...And Then There Were Three...'', personally remixing the album's projected first single "Follow You, Follow Me". Although the group didn't use this version, it guided them in their subsequent production. Collins later commented, "We didn't use his version, but we knew what he was getting at. He saw something more in there that wasn't coming out before." The released version of "Follow You, Follow Me" gave Genesis their first hit single in the US, the album became their first American gold record, and the experience resulted in Ertegun and Collins becoming close friends. By 1979 Genesis drummer/singer Phil Collins was considering branching out into a solo career. Reacting to the acrimonious breakup of his first marriage, he had begun writing and recording new songs at home, which were considerably different from the material he had been recording with Genesis. Although many in the industry reportedly discouraged him from going solo, Collins was strongly supported by Ertegun, who encouraged him to record an album after hearing the R&B-flavoured demo tapes Collins had recorded in his garage. Ertegun also insisted on changes to the song that became Collins' debut single. After hearing the song's sparsely-arranged opening section, Ertegun said: "Where's the backbeat, man? The kids won't know where it is – you've got to put extra drums on it." Collins replied "The drums come later," to which Ertegun retorted "By that time the kids will have switched over to another radio station." Acceding to Ertegun's demand, Collins took the unusual step of overdubbing extra drums on the finished master tape, and he later commented, "He (Ertegun) was quite right." Although his close friendship with Ertegun helped Collins launch his solo career, the fact that he eventually signed to Atlantic in the US was apparently as much by luck as by design. By early 1980, when Collins was recording his solo album, the record industry was suffering greatly from the impact of the worldwide economic recession, and many labels were beginning to cull their rosters and drop acts that weren't providing major returns. At this same time, Genesis' contract with Atlantic was up for renewal, and Collins was yet to sign as a solo artist. As part of the negotiations, Collins and his bandmates wanted their own 'vanity' label, Duke Records, but according to Kalodner, and despite Ertegun's personal interest, the group's demands, and their relatively modest performance in the US made Atlantic executives ambivalent about the deal. Kalodner was overseeing the recording of Collins' solo album while Atlantic were vacillating about signing the band and Collins, but it was at this point that Kalodner was abruptly dismissed from Atlantic, although he was almost immediately recruited to head the A&R division at the newly formed Geffen Records. Angered by his unceremonious ejection from Atlantic, he alerted Geffen to Collins' availability, but to his chagrin, neither Geffen nor any other US label showed interest; He then alerted Virgin Records boss Richard Branson, who immediately contacted Collins' manager Tony Stratton Smith and signed Collins to Virgin in the UK as a solo act. Although Ertegun subsequently disputed Kalodner's account of the Genesis/Collins contract saga, he agreed that the loss of Gabriel was a big mistake, and his regret about his handling of the matter was only compounded by Gabriel's subsequent success with Geffen. Much of this was due to Kalodner, who later admitted that, as soon as Gabriel was dropped from Atlantic, he realized he had made a mistake. In order to make amends to Gabriel, he alerted both CBS and Geffen to the fact that Gabriel was available, and after a bidding war, Gabriel signed with Geffen. They released his fourth solo album (a.k.a. "Security") in 1982 to wide acclaim, and Gabriel scored a minor US hit with the single "Shock The Monkey". Atlantic's regret was undoubtedly heightened when Gabriel achieved huge international success with his fifth album ''So'' (1986), which reached #1 in the UK and #2 in the US and sold more than 5 million copies in the US. The irony was further compounded by the fact that Gabriel scored a US #1 hit with the R&B-influenced single "Sledgehammer (Peter Gabriel song), Sledgehammer", which featured the legendary Memphis Horns, and which Gabriel later described as "my chance to sing like
Otis Redding Otis Ray Redding Jr. (September 9, 1941 – December 10, 1967) was an American singer and songwriter. He is considered one of the greatest singers in the history of American popular music and a seminal artist in soul music and rhythm and blues. N ...

Otis Redding
."


Long Branch warehouse fire

Atlantic suffered a catastrophic loss in the early morning of February 8, 1978, when a fire destroyed most of its tape archive, which had been stored in a non-air-conditioned warehouse in Long Branch, New Jersey. The four-story warehouse, located at 199 Broadway, was the former location of Vogel's Department Store, before it closed down in March 1975. The building was purchased less than a week earlier and had been scheduled to reopen as a Nadler's Furniture Center, in an effort to revitalize the downtown area. The building was owned by the family of Sheldon Vogel, the chief financial officer of Atlantic at the time. He had recommended moving the company's multitracks and unreleased recordings to the building after Ertegun had complained about the aforementioned tapes taking up too much space in the company's Manhattan offices in New York. Although master tapes of the material in Atlantic's released back catalog survived due to being stored in New York, the fire destroyed or damaged an estimated 5,000–6,000 reels of tape, including virtually all of the company's unreleased master tapes, alternative takes, rehearsal tapes and session multi-tracks recorded between 1948 and 1969. Atlantic was one of the first labels to record in stereo; many of the tapes that were lost were stereo 'alternates' recorded in the late 1940s and 1950s (which Atlantic routinely taped simultaneously with the mono versions until the 1960s) as well as almost all of the 8-track multitrack masters recorded by Tom Dowd in the 1950s and 1960s. According to ''Billboard'' journalist Bill Holland, news of the fire was kept quiet, and one Atlantic staffer who spoke to Holland reported that he did not find out about it until a year later. Reissue producers and archivists subsequently located some tapes that were at first presumed 'lost', but which had survived because they had evidently been removed from the New Jersey archive years earlier and not returned. During the compilation of the Rhino-Atlantic
John Coltrane John William Coltrane (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967) was an American jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in ...
boxed set, producer
Joel Dorn Joel Dorn (April 7, 1942 – December 17, 2007) was an American jazz and R&B music producer and record label entrepreneur. He worked at Atlantic Records, and later founded the 32 Jazz, Label M, and Hyena Records labels. He called himself "The M ...
located supposedly destroyed outtakes from Coltrane's seminal 1959 album ''Giant Steps'', plus other tapes including Bobby Darin's original Atco demo of "Dream Lover" (with Fred Neil playing guitar). Atlantic archivists have since rediscovered other 'lost' material including unreleased masters, alternative takes and rehearsal tapes by Ray Charles, Van "Piano Man" Walls, Ornette Coleman, Lennie Tristano and Lee Konitz.


40th Anniversary concert

In May 1988, the label held a Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary, 40th Anniversary concert, broadcast on HBO. This concert, which was almost 13 hours in length, featured performances by a large number of their artists and included reunions of some rock legends like Led Zeppelin and Crosby, Stills, and Nash (being David Crosby's first full band performance since being released from prison).


"You're Pitiful" dispute

In 2006, the label denied "Weird Al" Yankovic permission to release "You're Pitiful", a parody of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful", despite Blunt's own approval of the song. Atlantic said that it was too early in Blunt's career, and that they did not want Blunt to become a one-hit wonder. Although Yankovic could have legally gone ahead with the parody anyway under the Fair Use doctrine, his record label, Volcano Entertainment, thought that it was best not to "go to war" with Atlantic. The parody was released onto Internet, the Internet as a free download. Later he recorded two more parodies, "White & Nerdy", and "Do I Creep You Out", to replace "You're Pitiful". Yankovic, afterward, began wearing T-shirts reading "Atlantic Records sucks" while performing live. In addition, the music video for "White & Nerdy" depicts Yankovic defacing Atlantic's article on Wikipedia, replacing the whole page with "YOU SUCK!" in excessively large type (which spawned copycat Vandalism on Wikipedia, vandalism).


Recent developments

A country music division, which was founded in the 1980s, was closed in 2001. Time Warner sold Warner Music Group to a group of investors for $2.6 billion in late 2003. The deal closed in early 2004, consolidating Elektra Records and Atlantic into one label operated in the eastern United States. In 2007, the label celebrated its 60th anniversary with the May 2 PBS broadcast of the ''American Masters'' documentary ''Atlantic Records: The House that Ahmet Built'' and the simultaneous Starbucks CD release of ''Atlantic 60th Anniversary: R&B Classics Chosen By Ahmet Ertegun''. That year also saw Atlantic reach a milestone for major record labels. According to the ''International Herald Tribune'', "More than half of its music sales in the United States are now from digital products like downloads on iTunes and ring tones for cellphones", doing so "without seeing as steep of a decline in compact disc sales as the rest of the industry."


Notable sublabels

* 1017 Brick Squad Records * Big Beat Records (Atlantic subsidiary), Big Beat Records * Big Tree Records * Cotillion Records * Eardrum Records * Finnadar Records * First Priority Music * Fueled by Ramen * Grand Hustle Records * LaSalle Records * Maybach Music Group * Stone Flower Records * TAG Recordings * Vortex Records


See also

* Atlantic Records discography *
Atlantic Records Group Atlantic Records Group is an umbrella label owned by Warner Music Group Warner Music Group Corp. (WMG) is an American Multinational corporation, multinational entertainment and record label Conglomerate (company), conglomerate headquartered in ...
* Atlantic Records UK * List of Atlantic Records artists ** List of current Atlantic Records artists ** List of former Atlantic Records artists * List of record labels: 0-9


References


Additional sources

* * *


External links

*
Atlantic Records: The House that Ahmet Built
television documentary in Public Broadcasting Service, PBS American Masters series *
Atlantic US/UK A&R team contact list

Atlantic Records at ''Discogs''
{{Authority control Atlantic Records, 1947 establishments in the United States American record labels Hip hop record labels IFPI members Jazz record labels Labels distributed by Warner Music Group Record labels established in 1947 Rock record labels Soul music record labels Soundtrack record labels Warner Music labels