Atlantic Recording Corporation (simply known as Atlantic Records) is an American record label founded in October 1947 by Ahmet Ertegün and Herb Abramson. Over its first 20 years of operation, Atlantic Records earned a reputation as one of the most important American recording labels, specializing in jazz, R&B and soul recordings by African-American musicians including Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave, Ruth Brown and Otis Redding, a position greatly enhanced by its distribution deal with Stax Records. In 1967, Atlantic Records became a wholly owned subsidiary of Warner Bros .-Seven Arts, now the Warner Music Group, and expanded into rock and pop music with releases by bands such as Led Zeppelin and Yes.
In 2004, Atlantic Records and its sister label Elektra Records merged into Atlantic Records Group. Craig Kallman is currently the chairman of Atlantic Records. Ahmet Ertegün served as founding chairman until his death on December 14, 2006 at age 83.
In 1944, brothers Nesuhi and Ahmet Ertegun elected to remain in the United States when their mother and sister returned to Turkey, following the death of their father Munir Ertegun, who had been the first Turkish Ambassador to the United States. The brothers had become ardent fans of jazz and rhythm & blues music, amassing a collection of over 15,000 78 RPM records. Ahmet ostensibly stayed on in Washington to undertake post-graduate music studies at Georgetown University but immersed himself in the Washington music scene and decided to enter the record business, then 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 recruited Herb Abramson, a dentistry student.
Abramson had worked as a part-time A&R manager/producer for the jazz label National Records, signing Big Joe Turner and Billy Eckstine. He founded Jubilee Records in 1946, but had no interest in its most successful artists. So, in September 1947, he sold his share in Jubilee to his partner, Jerry Blaine, and invested $2500 in the new Atlantic label.
Atlantic Records was incorporated in October 1947 and was run by Abramson (the company president) and Ertegun (vice-president in charge of A&R, production and promotion) while Abramson's wife Miriam ran the label's publishing company, Progressive Music, and did most office duties until 1949 when Atlantic hired its first employee, book-keeper Francine Wakschal, who remained with the label for the next 49 years. Miriam quickly gained a reputation for toughness: staff engineer Tom Dowd later recalled; "Tokyo Rose was the kindest name some people had for her" and Doc Pomus 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 original office in the Ritz Hotel, Manhattan proved too expensive so they relocated to an $85 per month 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 its best-known home at 356 West 56th St.
Atlantic's first batch of recordings were issued in late January 1948, and included Tiny Grimes' "That Old Black Magic" and "The Spider" by Joe Morris. In its early years Atlantic focused principally on modern jazz although it released some country and western and spoken word recordings. Abramson also produced "Magic Records" which were children's records with four different sets of grooves so each side had four different stories of which the story which got played was determined by where the stylus landed on the groove.
Soon after its formation, Atlantic faced a serious challenge - in late 1947 James Petrillo, head of the American Federation of Musicians, announced an indefinite ban on all recording activities by union musicians, and this came into force 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 initially 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 many songs under the alias "A. Nugetre", including Big Joe Turner's hit "Chains of Love", working them out in his head and then recording them in 25c recording booths in Times Square and giving the recording to an arranger or straight to the session musicians. Early releases featured Joe Morris, Frank Culley, Art Pepper, Shelly Manne, Pete Rugolo, Tiny Grimes, The Delta Rhythm Boys, The Clovers, The Cardinals, Big Joe Turner, Erroll Garner, Mal Waldron, Howard McGhee, James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, Jackie & Roy, Sarah Vaughan, Lead Belly, Sonny Terry, Professor Longhair, Mabel Mercer, Sylvia Syms, Billy Taylor, Mary Lou Williams, Sidney Bechet, Django Reinhardt, Earl Hines, Barney Bigard, Pee Wee Russell, Al Hibbler, Meade Lux Lewis, Jimmy Yancey, Johnny Hodges and Bobby Short. Associated Artists