First of all this book has nothing to do with investing, but I’ve always been drawn to businessmen that have come from rather humble beginnings to being the best of the best. How did they get there? What was the tipping point in their careers? The Last Sultan, his real name Ahmet Ertegun, grew up the son of a high-ranking Turkish diplomat, would end up changing the record business forever through his record label Atlantic Records.
When he first moved to the US he used to sneak out and listen to black-roots music in the local clubs when no white record exec would dare do so. He ended up falling in love with this music and would later start a record label to bring it to the masses. Over the next five decades as different genres faded and others took shape, Ahmet was usually the visionary leading the charge. He signed some of the biggest music legends in history including: Big Joe Turner, Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, Sonny and Cher, Nash & Young, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Bette Midler, and Kid Rock.
The most interesting theme of the book were the comments artists had about Ahmet Ertegun. Even early on in his career before he was a legend, artists had a deep respect for Ahmet’s innate ability to hear, modify, and help create #1 records. Because of Ahmet’s active social lifestyle, he found it very easy to connect with artists on multiple levels. Both the The Rolling Stones and Kid Rock were amazed that Ahmet could out drink and out socialize even them, not get any sleep, and be alert, well dressed, and well versed for a business meeting hours later. And Ahmet was always the best-dressed person in the room.
Ahmet Ertegun’s life was one part music visionary, one part businessman, and two parts the show “Mad Men”. And this is exactly why several major tv networks have tried to produce a series around Ahmet’s life. The book is also a rock and roll history lesson that takes you from the late 1940’s through present day. I enjoyed the book and you will to, although I guarantee your life will seem very boring after you read about “The Last Sultan”.
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