F1 Chip was your post, so black music at.

F2 Well, Zeke. I must tell you that.

M1 A couple of things happened when I became more concentrated. And developing.

M3 Rock and roll, it's like that started with the Buffalo Springfield and ended more or less with the Rolling Stones, that a lot, but there's a long period of time where and and that and that time that Jerry Jerry Wexler made the great records with Aretha Franklin and so on.

F32 And after that. We went into a period where.

M3 A lot of music that we're making, we're making rhythm and blues had so much fun that there were two kinds of music that were really had become much more the music, the black music of the time. One was Motown.

M11 Which.

M3 Was some of the greatest music I've ever heard, and it still remains very, very popular and rightly so, and I think that Motown has contributed.

F3 Incredibly, an incredible amount of work to do, the history of American music. But also the disco.

F12 And.

M12 And we were kind of left out of both. Because. As much as I was.

M3 Among the first people to go to disclose I to go to before they were disclosed in America is the regime's regimes in Paris, which is the first discotheque and the.

M10 I helped Michael Butler open the club in New York, which was the first discotheque in America. And yet the music, the disco music evolve very quickly and.

M12 And it was a miracle that we found chic because chic. Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards had. A concept of production that was as good or better than any of our competition and we made records, which are anthems where I say we they made records, which are anthems to be. Not only the records they recorded and sheet. But the records that are now produced with Sister Sledge, we are family.

M10 That is probably along with I will survive. And maybe one or two song by Donna Summer and one is two songs by the YMCA From Village to Village.

M1 I mean, these are the words remain with us as the anthems of the disco era.

F31 And I think that that.

M12 Not only was. The Rogers.

M3 Instrumental in bringing us back very strongly into black music, dance music, the disco era into modernity. But he also became one of the top all around producers for every kind of music. And he was a great guitar player. And he helped me make what became a multimillion record seller with Robert Plant that we called.

M12 We we hid his identity and for the record, the Honeydripper and. And that includes.

F32 That is a. Is a record that that that half of it.

M10 Nile plays guitar along with Jeff Beck, and that was that was a great moment then.

M3 And look, now this is a very important person. So today is a very, very important and meaningful master of the art.

F15 No, I thought he did a great job. I really did. Speaking of funny things, in modern modernity, people say that you have a tireless desire to find a new thing and find out what would work.

F18 Are you are you looking at anything now that you think might be a new thing or a new way to make things work?

M1 Well, you know, these days, you know, you don't walk into a club and hear somebody because there's nobody playing in the club.

M2 And the only thing that clubs when you hit rock and roll bands and I don't go to those clubs anymore because I'm too tired by the time it comes around, but you have to go there after midnight and all that.

M6 But that. I have a.

F3 But I have a lot of music that comes in that's played for me that, you know, we have tons of music that that comes in in our office and by something. It's very good. We all share it, you know, the great cameraman, Julie Greenwald, myself, various people and the entire department, and we we all listen to it.

F33 We get very excited. We play it. We play it for or even for people like Mr. Bregman or our for. Mr. Carlin, and and sometimes we play it, we play for our friends when we get very excited and we got very excited when we heard this one got on the Gnarls Barkley album before it came out. That got crazy and.

M1 You know, we we all know it when we have a blockbuster, and that makes me feel good because everybody knows when they are on the right track and that makes me feel good because it makes me feel good about the staff we have for the future and the.

F14 And it's fun. Good, that's your second here.

F18 And can you just kindly tell me the if you don't want to tell them, the reason I was telling the story is because of your interest in clothes for all these years that you've been on the best dressed men's list. I know you're very conscious of it. I know that you always look well. So I thought that perhaps the Brooks Brothers story, which has been written about, you've never told it when you were a child.

M12 Well, that is when I first. Came came to New York. I really I really couldn't afford to have. I had ideas about how I would want how I would take what material to do what and how I would have it cut and so on, but I really couldn't afford to tailor made suits anymore.

F3 I had to do. But they really made close, but I didn't like the way any they came out. I like the most I like the Brooks Brothers cut, which was more or less reminiscent of the British sports cut.

F33 And so.

M11 I could. In those days. My mother. A.

F3 She had a an expensive game changer heart rose by this. And she moved to Turkey and the address they had with her was in Washington, where she moved from two years before.

M4 So anyway, I went to both parties and I thought, I know the boys department had basically the same materials as you can find. And the men's department, however, and they also had large sizes because some of the boys were very big. So I could get the boys department and get a suit that sold for a hundred dollars or 125 dollars. That was a lot of money in those days.

F3 I could get it for thirty five dollars and the boys department. So I go and I bought. A great friend playing great flannel suit. In those days, your Brooks brothers would not hang the clothes, they stack them up on tables and that. And I had a friend who was there with Harper Souls, who is a very, very humorous and elegant man from a friend of mine, Washington, and he had come with me to New York. And I liked the Brooks Brothers with him. The magpie, the. But the jacket on me, I looked in the mirror and said. I said to the salesman, I said that this jacket doesn't fit. So my friend said, Fit.

M1 If you want to fit, you go, I was cheap Broadway stars. This is matters, you know, come here, get fit.

F7 I also said, yes, sir. That's quite right, sir. So anyway, I got this.

F6 This is very good gray flannel suit.

M4 With English language material. And the readymade, you know, suit and I have this friend, I developed a friendship with this old Armenian gentleman who was the charge of tailoring and laundry at the hotel, and I had a lot of friends who stayed with me. We always hang out. This is post Dorothy Parker.

F11 But we to hang out in the lobby of the Algonquin and.

M2 And I got to know this very nice man from Istanbul who.

F3 Who was a great tailor? He was you know, he had stopped caring and he was taking care of the laundry and the beauty and the dry cleaning for the hotel guests.

F11 So I was there as well.

M2 So I said, oh, I know. So he said, I'll put this together.

F6 So he took the whole suit apart and refilled it on me perfectly. He made.

M5 A have said open, you know, batteries and the cars that opened because, you know, the way they're doing, they're ready made to they don't have suits, don't have a buttonhole.

F10 So he made the button buttonholes and then he made an extra little cash pocket. And then he went inside pocket and and he put a flare.

F11 In Italian, so the Brooks Brothers jacket became like a cross between. An Italian tailor made suit at Savile Row suit and brushed by others us, and it was the whole thing and.

F3 When I went to a party with George, there was a man named George Frazier who wrote for Esquire and George Frazier song, and he said, my God said, who made that suit?

M2 So I said, oh, just some tailoring in Turkey, maybe for maybe I don't want to. So I said, it's incredible. What are the names that he'd rather not? So anyway, the following year, he handed him a list of the 20 best dressed men in the world. I got a picture of me and I was the this is what I was 20 to 24 years old and. And my friends, a lot of my friends are very angry, and I had some very rich friends like Mario Santo Domingo, who had a nice classmate, that I have the same shepherd in London, and he was on that list, of course. Of course, the man who wrote the article and didn't know my house after me.

F7 So but I had you know, I have some friends.

M7 Who never make.

M4 The best dressed list who have by far better dressed than anybody. People who are in the best dressed list because the people they put on the best dressed list are famous people with a few not so famous like me, but.

F3 Most of the people on the. People in the news and so far. But I know. I think the best dressed man I've ever seen in my life. Was the man name. Bill, which is better be a bill Bill, right? The third was from Baltimore, who is the reason I got to know him is because he was the greatest authority on the music of Jelly Roll Morton and that he can find old. Social register. Family members frantic search for a registered family, and he would he had yet to be really well dressed. You can't look like me. You have to look. Like Fred Astaire, I like being on a certain thin waist and so the clothes look good on you, you know. David Windsor, the X King of England who married in Windsor, David Windsor, heard that he had that kind of look and he was certainly one of the best dressed men of all time.

M1 And so, as you know, I was always wondered, as Fred Astaire, I was out a lot in Hollywood. I said.

M2 I want to get you so I said just a second here, I do a scene and they brought a trunk full of cars and when he picked out a jacket and put it on somebody.

F10 Went back to sleep, everything. And he was with some just take out the take out of it and he look fabulous, but, you know, he had things like instead of a belt, he would take a tie right around your neck and tie it up here on the side. So sort come down a bit like a sash. It would be a you know, I had all that and he had a way of having socks that showed off his shoe and and the.

F11 And the and the trousers would allow that. Now, a lot of people have trousers so low that you never see the I or hardly see the shoe because they.

F13 But this this is traditional style.

F10 You know, things change. You know, there's. But there's a traditional. Style for men, which hasn't changed over the last eight years.

F14 I do like your shoes. Thank you. Very nice shoes. The men in Paris by LUB. And if I were Edward R. Murrow, I'd ask to go see your closet, shoot out of his closet about.

F6 Oh, somebody I, I have I have shoes downstairs, upstairs. Hundred patients that are, you know, that had made made to measure it from.

F15 Well, I think that's terrific.

F16 Now, do we want to put on a little Benny Goodman as we go upstairs or to go into boogie upstairs and look at oh, sorry, I did forget the sheer story that we want to tell the story of mom at dinner, the dinner party before the new.

M2 Yes. I mean, it's it's not a it's it's the only thing wrong with that, it's kind of a put down to whom?

M7 To mother? Oh, I guess you're right. Yeah. I mean, I can I can tell that you. I don't care. Is she alive? She is probably. I never heard this. But my distributor.

F3 In L.A., L.A. gave a dinner party which invited me to in a restaurant, and that was when I was there visiting for a few days, and he invited a very beautiful, statuesque tall lady. To be my partner more or less at this dinner party I in.

F6 And she was sitting next to me and during dinner I asked her.

F3 What she did and what it was, her interests in life and so forth, and she says, Oh says. I'm interested in metaphysics.

M7 So I had just been, you know. Doing postgraduate work. When Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas and Plato, who are considered metaphysicians.

M1 I said, oh, you mean like Aristotle and Plato?

F3 He said, no, no, like Dr. Wilson, I said, Dr. Watson, who is that? He's a very famous metaphysician. So I said. That I remember this church, I said, oh, no, I thought, you know, I didn't understand what you meant by metaphysics. He said, well, he's a doctor of metaphysics and he's our pastor of the church. And I made some. Korak. About, you know, because I have all these. Rosicrucian and. Religions in California, I myself and everybody at the table laughed. And a tear came down, I heard. I said, oh, she said, you just have just insulted my religion. So I said, No, please forgive me. I meant. So sad and lonely, I forgive you. She said, if you promise to go. To go to the service, it was a Saturday night at the service tomorrow with me. So I said, OK, you know, I thought I was I really shouldn't have made, you know, that I was I mean, I just met this lady, Dorothy, and she was just not there. I mean, she had no idea what metaphysics was her. Anyway. So the evening went on was OK and. And I dropped her off and said, well, pick me up at at 10 o'clock, pick me up at nine o'clock at night. So anyway, I picked her up and I said, where's the check? They said that grandma's Chinese theater. So I said, OK. So we go to the Chinese theater. And she apparently was somebody very important in that church because as Dr. Wilson had a large congregation and we were in a box in the theater and sitting with us and the box was somebody else who was also very important. Was Mickey Rooney. And so we're sitting and this and this. Dr. Watson gives a speech that had very little to do with metaphysics, but was kind of a Dale Carnegie type of oration at the end. At the end of which, you know, everybody said, why not let us pray? And anyway, after this. We went to have a drink in the back garden. And the theater. Have a cup of coffee or tea or whatever with the reverend, Dr. Watson and I just, you know, Mickey Rooney and and this lady. So I'm taking this after this thing. I'm taking this lady home and she's holding my hand now. She is very friendly, very happy with the game. And she said, I'd like you to. I like it. My daughter is a singer I'd like you to hear I said, listen, if we're gonna be friends, let's not talk about uncles who write songs or daughters who say, I don't like that promise. OK, I promise that was that. And I went out with her several times. And she was a dental X Shogo, she was a Las Vegas showgirl, tall, statuesque, very sexy. And you're not the hey, you know that the way that. And then, OK, so things went first and then meantime my brother. And that we had this guy, Sunny, who worked for our distributor. He was like a delivery man. To me, he was a part time promotion man, used to deliver records to records, to radio stations, samples from new records, and he also had been at work before for specialty records. And he played the tambourine. And that it was a nice guy and he would sometimes would help me get the banks together. So, for instance, what musicians do, he knew all the musicians. So so I let him I let him be on the set, you just played tambourine and get paid in a scale like the other musicians, but it was like he could use the money. So my brother knew him, too, because, you know, he used to know my brother was upset by that. So my brother signed him up.

M2 He he always wanted me to say that I was telling me you're not a singer, as in my man, I can sing a little bit. That's not enough. So, so, so. So my brother signed them up and they were called.

F3 Cesarian Cleo. And they make a couple of decades. Between my brother and the distributor who both liked this kid distributor, his name was Jack Lord Jack, and also he produced these couple of records. But this isn't clear.

M11 Nothing happened. And then much later.

F11 I signed up this group.

F3 In California. Buffalo Springfield. Who managed by by two guys with a green and stone, the managers, they managed the Buffalo Springfield. So one day I'm driving down Hollywood Boulevard with these two guys who. And the radio's playing. I hear it sounds like he's up. And it's Sonny and Cher. No, they call themselves Sonny and Cher.

F5 And. I said, who is that?

M2 I said, well, see, I said.

F3 The Greens still say we manage it as a kidding. As a very good science, but that's the way of saying it in L.A. But it's not anywhere else. And we have so much trouble getting any money at Warner Brothers. Everything is it. And they didn't pick up the option, does it? Can I sign them? OK, but that that that option had lapsed.

F13 So I signed I signed Sonny and Cher. And the first record we made was I got you, babe.

F3 And became an international smash within three days after DeMar. And.

F13 I mean, it became a huge thing, especially when people saw that picture, Sunny, and kind of a funny jacket and with long hair, and she was a long life, so. So, so, so they come. So now we've got Sonny and Cher international standards, so they come together and make ends meet. That is arranging the shoot for Cher, for Vogue magazine, because she was the grand lady involved.

M2 So she called me and said, oh, I've got to do anything with Cher.

M13 So.

F13 So I'm sitting in a dressing room somewhere. We share. And here comes this girl needs to go out with.

F7 One mother who was adopted said, I want to dance and sing anyway, and that's start.

F18 And you said, I don't know your mother.

F7 And she said, if you do used to go out with her, that's not exactly what she said, but something like that.

F16 OK, let's go up and see your shoe collection, and this has been a great thing, we'll put on a little. Thank you so much. This has been a lot of fun. How about you guys? Yes, we're going to.

F19 What does that.

F20 Professor.

F22 Now, think that will now be revealed, it may not be. At every new every single night in the.

F2 Duke Ellington is a.

F10 Along with Louis Armstrong is.

F26 The major figure in the history of jazz. The.

F3 I would think of in their last vacation. As.

M15 Jelly Roll Morton. I'm speaking about the pre-bid area around. I'm speaking about the preverb area.

M9 The Duke Ellington.

F6 Went through many periods of jazz, he lived through many parents of jazz and.

F11 Incorporated many stars in his lifetime.

M15 When I first heard Duke Ellington. Was in the. Very early 30s must have been 1932 from. I'm thirty three, maybe. And London, maybe 33 or even 34, I'm not very good about the dates, but I'm on the early 30s, my brother took me to the Palladium.

F3 And the band that he had then and some we we knew all the members of the band, but the band had then had some very, very great names.

F6 We just heard Tregear, Somnath and. Dreamboat Johnny Hodges was already with the band.

M11 The band. Grue.

M14 As time passed.

F3 The band grew as time passed and changed personnel. But the personnel was already always very vulnerable, so the early band had. About one on trumpet and who invented a certain type of growl, trumpets and crickets, that was called Tricky Sam because his name is Jonathan, but he was called Tricky Sam because of the trick sounds.

F6 He got out of his mutes playing the trombone.

F13 The constant and of course, you have you know, Sonny Greer was his dream was to remain this dreamer until throughout his career.

M16 Welman Broox was his bass player who started with him, with the Washingtonians. And I was the bass player who. Who?

F3 Who stayed with them until. He retired and then the great Jerry Blackthorne base came to our base, that was every.

M17 A renaissance of the Duke Ellington Orchestra with people like Julia Williams, Rick Stuart and trumpet Johnny Hodges again, alto saxophone Harry Carney on baritone Barney Bigart on tenor saxophone and clarinet, also from New Orleans. That eventually ran ads on violin and trumpet and trombone with one. What you want, it is all Lance Brown.

M18 These are. People who made the.

F13 The Duke and the South and Duke Ellington wrote with a lot of them. And then in the very late 30s, he was joined by Billy Strayhorn, who was his protege and like his son, and Billy Strayhorn wrote some great songs with Billy Strayhorn, wrote some great songs with with Duke and Duke, continued the one constant from 1925.

F6 Until Duke Ellington's death. Was Duke Ellington himself and Duke Ellington.

M3 Was able to always bring out the Ellington Ellington sound and feel for the musicians he had around. But the musicians stayed with him a long time.

F30 And they were and they were the.

F6 Jazz giants, but they were part of what we call Ellington, you and I had the great privilege of becoming a friend of Duke Ellington and.

M9 And in your health.

M17 I suppose the night was more or less. 14 or 15.

F27 And. And remained friend for many years.

F1 Would you just go? I mean, is that how you became friends? Would you and your brother just sort of go backstage?

M16 No. He would come to Washington and come to our house to go.

M17 We will go together and offer but other friends, and so I was a friend of Dr. Williston's also I will see him there. But we would go to wherever he was playing and go backstage and see him and then go out together and and then when he was in in New York.

F6 I lived in an apartment. That was that which I shared. With his manager, his wife's parents. So we.

M20 Chris Courtney, who is Duke Ellington's manager, is a beautiful blonde wife whose mother and father shared an apartment that had to at first when I first moved out of a hotel where I was, I first about when I signed Atlantic Records and I lived I was in this very large apartment that they had on the.

F31 Unrestrictive Street and.

M20 So I saw I would see. Do you know when he was safe, was and was about to be in the hospital? I got to see him in the hospital and. His doctor, Arthur Lowe, Dr. Arthur Logan was somebody we knew and. And they would go to his house sometime soon.

F18 Was his influence and just going back to the idea was the influence effect of his arranging and composing a fan choice of tell where he put everything together.

F13 I mean, you know, he look at his living instrument. You know, he was a pianist. He was a great pianist. He was one of the greatest stride pianists.

M17 He played in the 20s, star and Fats Waller and JP Johnson and William Smith, they all played a lot in that way.

F6 And. And you kind of had a very florid version of that style, but his main instrument was his orchestra and and he used his orchestra as his instrument and that. Later on in Life in Large, the orchestra for various suites that you wrote and said make classical and classical pieces. But. His importance really to me. Isn't in his attempts to do grander things. I think the grandiose things he did with the things he did with. His various orchestras with jazz music and. And the excitement of that band was beyond anything you knew you were in the presence of a historical event when you heard that orchestra play. It was just just another, you know, another dance band. This was a great a great piece of music, a great series of pieces of music, played a fantastic group of musicians and. And it's. I guess it's the greatest. Orchestral achievement for jazz has ever produced.

F15 And there's so many I mean, no matter where you go, I just finish that you could hear someone just in one to the other is that, oh, there's this Ellington concert. And I said, well, who's playing? You know?

F18 And it was just everywhere you go, they're not very good. But but his name and his style and his arrangements this Thursday night, every every week down at that club down in Soho, there's a Duke Ellington band. You know, Duke Ellington night, I mean, is really quite, quite extraordinary.

M17 Yeah, but. Duke Ellington was also.

M12 A grand, flamboyant personality, and he was a wonderful speaker and.

F27 And a charming man and.

F6 He was in his own style of dressing, they we're talking about the best dressed people. The best dressed jazz musician I've ever seen.

M17 Miles Davis also has the same kind of physique and look and and he has that he had a flair to himself.

F6 There was a. For a short time, I went out with.

F4 It was a.

M20 The contest, Ghareeb, was a grand French society lady whose best friend was Juliet Wacol, who was a French singer and was a beautiful girl, and they both are beautiful. And they they came to New York, I remember, for a few weeks, and they were staying at the Waldorf Towers. And Miles Davis and I double dated them. We went out with the two of them. It was a terrific evening.

F11 The last time Miles Davis played in a nightclub in New York.

M20 Was a huge occasion that opened a new club on the west side. Which only lasted for a few months, but they opened this club and.

M17 It will take out three, 400 people at a nightclub with tables, not a huge place everywhere, and of the night that desi that my house was supposed to open. It was sold out and I called up and they gave me a table because I'm a friend of modern soccer and it turned out they gave me a table in front frontrow, but.

M20 Oh.

F6 Black society, I mean, it was just everybody was on whoever is in power, actors and so on and. And by this time, Miles had a band that was mixed up with some semi rock and roll guys and a couple of jazz musicians and so forth. As the band came on and this place is just there has been 2000 people outside trying to get in an accident with a few friends at the very front table.

F12 And.

M20 I remember that even somebody like Sylvia Browne, who has a lot of people in the group chairs on the table for their backs away and.

M2 Everybody was waiting, so the band comes out and they start playing some songs and everybody is clapping, but there's without waiting for miles to come out.

M20 Finally. Miles comes in after three and a half an hour of this.

M2 Everyone's screaming, man, and he comes out and sees me. And it comes over. I think on their feet, they're all applauding as he comes and sits right there and says, let's have a drink.

F7 So so then says playing out the way.

M2 And now he's clearly having a drink with me. I said, you know, if you don't get up like these people here, not kill me. Because if I look like I'm asking you to sit here and.

M18 Anywhere very funny.

M2 But I never recorded Miles Davis, but he was. He was one of my favorite all time musicians. How come you didn't come and visit? I love busy, too busy, you know.

F3 God rest his soul because he was such a great friend to me. My brother was a great friend. I read Martin's. Areva Martin first heard it, and they like the Dizzy Gillespie band in Istanbul. And he went on State Department tours and I'm Quincy Jones, was playing trumpet in the band and and Quincy and Daisy invited areif every one of his arrangements and they played it and they invited him to come to America.

Ahmet Ertegun Interview #1
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
"Ahmet Ertegun Interview #1, Atlantic Records: The House that Ahmet Built." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 09 Oct. 2006,
(2006, October 09). Ahmet Ertegun Interview #1, Atlantic Records: The House that Ahmet Built. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Ahmet Ertegun Interview #1, Atlantic Records: The House that Ahmet Built." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). October 09, 2006. Accessed January 20, 2022


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