Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Atlantic Records founder seriously ill


NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun, the son of a Turkish diplomat who helped make Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin stars, is in a coma after injuring his brain in a fall, his doctor said Monday.

Dr. Howard Riina, his neurosurgeon, told Reuters in a telephone interview that the music industry legend "sustained a severe brain injury after a fall. He's in a deep coma and in critical condition. His chance of a meaningful recovery is small."

Riina said Ertegun, 83, was on life support in a neurological intensive care unit at Weill Cornell Medical Center. Asked when a decision might be made about continuing to provide life support to Ertegun, Riina said, "It's not clear at this point. He remains critically ill. He's still very sick."

Atlantic Records said Ertegun fell on October 29 while attending a Rolling Stones concert and was hospitalized with a head injury.

Ertegun, a jazz fanatic who came to the United States at age 11 when his father was named Turkish ambassador, founded Atlantic Records with Herb Abramson in 1947 and quickly turned it into one of the leading independent jazz and rhythm-and-blues labels.

Their early client list included legendary performers like Professor Longhair, Ruth Brown, Joe Turner, Erroll Garner and Dizzy Gillespie. (Gallery: Noted Atlantic artists)

Ertegun also helped Charles, Franklin, saxophonist John Coltrane and hard rock group Led Zeppelin become stars.

In 1955, his older brother, Nesuhi, joined Ertegun at Atlantic, where he developed an album department and built the label's jazz roster, producing Coltrane and Charles as well as Charles Mingus, the Modern Jazz Quartet and Herbie Mann.

Atlantic Records is owned by Warner Music Group Corp. Warner Music, once a part of Time Warner, was sold in 2003 to a consortium led by Edgar Bronfman Jr.