Atlantic Records

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Atlantic Records
Logo of the label
Logo of the label
Parent company Warner Music Group (since 1967)
Active years since 1947
founder Ahmet Ertegün , Nesuhi Ertegün , Herb Abramson
Seat New York City
Label code LC 00121
Sub-label Atco Records
Genre (s) Rhythm and blues , rock 'n' roll , soul , rock music , heavy metal , jazz

Founded in 1947, Atlantic Records developed into the largest independent label in the USA, specializing in jazz - and especially rhythm and blues , doo-wop - and soul recordings. It was style-defining and also influential for the development of rhythm & blues and soul. Today the label is a subsidiary of the Warner Music Group .


Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegün , sons of the Turkish ambassador to the USA, owned a sizeable record collection of around 15,000 jazz and blues records as young people. Together with producer Herb Abramson and the dentist Dr. US $ 10,000 on loan to Vahdi Sabit was established at Atlantic Records in September 1947 and registered in New York City in October 1947 . A planned nationwide strike in recording studios, initiated by Caesar Petrillo on January 1, 1948, forced the founders to act quickly. The first recording session was on November 21, 1947 with the Harlemaires quartet , who recorded The Rose of the Rio Grande (Atlantic # 856) and three other tracks (released in June 1948). By the end of December 1947, 65 songs had already been recorded. When Abramson was drafted into the army in 1953, Jerry Wexler joined as a partner, who brought in equity for a 13% share of US $ 2,000. Abramson returned from the military in July 1955 and took over the management of the newly founded subsidiary label Atco (ATlantic COmpany), which was to bundle the activities of the producers / composers Leiber / Stoller, who had been contracted to Atlantic since September 1955 . However, Abramson left the already established label in December 1958 with a capital share increased to US $ 300,000.


Ahmet (left) and Nesuhi Ertegün in the 1940s
Photo: William P. Gottlieb

Shortly after it was founded, it was possible to fill the important positions of a record label with people who were capable of developing. In addition to the founders, Jerry Wexler was able to be won as a music producer from 1953 (first production was the Ray Charles session on November 18, 1954 with I Got A Woman ) and from 1963 Arif Mardin (until May 2001), Jesse Stone took care of the acquisition of interpreters and music arrangements, employed or associated composers like Leiber / Stoller created the repertoire of the label, Tom Dowd started as a sound engineer in the label's own recording studios, and a session band made up of outstanding individualists ensured a homogeneous sound. This personal configuration was able to pinpoint and develop talents for the label's repertoire within a short period of time. In 1955 Nesuhi Ertegün came to Atlantic Records and produced jazz performers such as John Coltrane , Charles Mingus , Ornette Coleman and the Modern Jazz Quartet . The first important artists in rhythm & blues were Ruth Brown , Ray Charles , Joe Turner , the Clovers and Drifters . The first hit was Drinkin 'Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee by Stick McGhee. In 1958, Atlantic was one of the first labels to start with stereo recordings and use eight-track sound technology.

First records and first successes

Eddie Condon - Time Carries On, one of the early Atlantic Records, recorded May 25, 1949
Stick McGee - Drinkin 'Wine Spo-dee-o-dee

Burt Hilber 's Square Dance Party Part I, recorded on August 23, 1949, was released as the first record from the Atlantic Records catalog under Atlantic # 111 without hit parade resonance. First note for Atlantic Records with a position 12 in the Rhythm & Blues chart was Midnight Special by Tiny Grimes (#Atlantic 865), recorded on August 1, 1948 and published in October 1948. For February 14, 1949 was with Stick McGhee terminated a recording session that resulted in Drinkin 'Wine Spoo-dee-o-dee (# 873). After its release in March 1949, the title reached second place on the R&B charts, initially the best placement for the young record label and sold around 400,000 copies. Shortly thereafter, tenor saxophonist Frank Culley released the song Cole Slaw (# 874), recorded on October 17, 1949 , and made it to number 11 on the R&B charts. The first number one hit was Teardrops from My Eyes by Ruth Brown, released in September 1950 , which stayed in first place for eleven weeks.

Ruth Brown was the first Atlantic performer whose records frequently hit the R&B charts. This also succeeded with the Clovers, whose first single Don't You Know I Love You (# 934) was created on February 22, 1951 and, after its release in April 1951, made it to number one in the charts. Incidentally, the title was - like many songs from the early days - written by the label boss Ertegün ( registered backwards as Nugetre ). The most successful title of the vocal group was the following Fool, Fool, Fool again from the pen of the label owner, which even took first place for six weeks after publication in August 1951. Atlantic Records didn't have to wait any longer for the first million seller - an unusual circumstance, however, for record companies exclusively active in the R&B sector. In turn composed by the label boss together with Henry van Walls, Big Joe Turner created the track Chains of Love on April 19, 1951 , which came onto the market in May 1951, took second place in the R&B charts and achieved sales of one million copies rendered.

The 1950s

Ruth Brown also achieved million seller status with the title 5-10-15 Hours published in March 1952 . As early as 1954, seven Atlantic originals, including Sh-Boom , Honey Love and A Night of 18 other artists gecovert . The Drifters also contributed, whose first lead singer appeared on May 6, 1953 with the Dominoes in the famous Birdland . Here he was discovered by Ertegün and formed the first formation of the vocal group with David “Little Dave” Baughan (tenor), William “Chick” Anderson (tenor), David Baldwin (baritone) and James “Wrinkle” Johnson (bass). After intensive rehearsals, the Drifters first entered the recording studio on June 29, 1953. The four resulting recordings made it clear to the producer that a new group had to be put together. On the recording date August 9, 1953, Bill Pinkney (tenor), Andrew “Bubba” Thrasher (second tenor), brother Gerhart “Gay” Thrasher (baritone) and Willie Ferbie (bass) appeared next to the lead tenor McPhatter. Five titles were the result, of which Money Honey was published in September 1953, topped the R&B charts for eleven weeks and sold two million copies. In 1954 alone, three more top ten hits followed in the R&B charts with Lucille , Such A Night and Honey Love , which reached number 1. It was also the Drifters who were able to place themselves on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for the first time in the pre-Christmas business of 1955 with the cover version of the Bing Crosby title White Christmas , the record reached number 3 on the R&B charts. The title hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart again shortly before Christmas in 1960 and 1962. The sound was found, because by the end of 1959 the Drifters had delivered a total of 14 top 10 hits, including four top hits in the R&B charts.

Clovers - Don't You Know I Love You

With 19 top 10 hits, the Clovers surpassed the Drifters' success rate, although they left Atlantic Records in June 1956. The Clovers, who had been under contract with Atlantic Records since mid-February 1951, were a typical doo-wop group that started in 1950 with titles like Don't You Know I Love You , One Mint Julep and Devil Or Angel for a series of R&B hits. However, they clearly stood out from the rather sweet-sounding R&B groups like Ink Spots or the Mills Brothers , were characterized by a lead singer singing loudly in the foreground and a background trio that was only rhythmically oriented. The tenor saxophone, which later became so typical for Atlantic recordings, is already part of their sound, but not yet as screeching and pressing into the foreground as it was later with King Curtis .

Ruth Brown had 20 top 10 hits in the R&B charts, including the biggest hit Teardrops From My Eyes , produced in September 1950 , which blocked first place for eleven weeks. When "Big" Joe Turner switched to Atlantic in April 1951, the very first session on April 19, 1951 produced the hit Chains of Love , which, after being released in May 1951, was ranked second for four weeks. His biggest hit was Honey Hush , composed on May 12, 1953 with Fats Domino at the piano, followed by the original Shake, Rattle and Roll , each of which reached first place on the R&B charts. Turner contributed 17 top 10 hits to the Atlantic label's success statistics.

When Ray Charles came to Atlantic in September 1952, he had already had three top 10 hits for two other record labels. Atlantic bought him out of his Swing Time Records contract for $ 5,000 . His first Atlantic single, The Midnight Hour (# 976), was written in his first session on September 11, 1952, but it was not listed on the chart. It was not until May 17, 1953 that It Should Have Been Me was selected from 7 titles in this session and made it to fifth place on the R&B charts. With his sixth single I've Got A Woman , created on November 18, 1954 in Atlanta, he achieved his first number one. He achieved that three more times, with What'd I Say , released on June 27, 1959, became his biggest hit on Atlantic Records. After a total of 28 singles, 13 of which reached the top 10 of the R&B charts, Ray Charles switched to ABC-Paramount on November 1, 1959. On March 15, 1954, Wexler produced with the chords Sh-Boom and with the hit released a white cover for the Crew Cuts on the subsidiary label Cat Records , which was founded in April 1954 , the model for many subsequent cover versions of white performers of original rhythm & blues titles. "Sh-Boom" was the catalyst for the popularization of Rhythm & Blues and reached number two on the R&B charts, the first place was blocked by Honey Love from the Drifters. With fifth place in the pop charts, the Chords were also the first R&B group to have a top 10 hit in the pop charts.

With the records by Ruth Brown, the company was able to gain a foothold in the white market for the first time. Ertegun characterized the early sound of Atlantic as blues, which was, however, urbanized and watered down, an almost authentic blues, which was, however, "cleaner, less harsh and generally more cultivated". Ruth Brown's voice, which had only a very restrained blues coloring, only occasionally had coloratura and glissandi, matched this, its pronunciation was clear and clear.

The trend setting was the decision of Atlantic Records on September 28, 1955 to win the young team of authors Leiber / Stoller as independent producers and to bring their talented vocal group Robins to the newly founded Atlantic subsidiary label Atco. After personnel changes, the Robins emerged as Coasters , which addressed the problems of young people with parents or teachers with humorously ironic Leiber / Stoller compositions. These included the number one hits and million seller Searchin '/ Young Blood (recorded on February 15, 1957), Yakety Yak (March 17, 1958) and Poison Ivy (April 17, 1959). In total, the Coasters brought the label six million sellers.

In 1955, Atlantic Records wanted to sign Elvis Presley , and Colonel Tom Parker , Elvis Presley's manager at the time, asked for $ 45,000, a sum that Atlantic could not raise at the time, so Presley signed a contract with RCA.

In addition to the coasters, Bobby Darin made up the majority of the Atco catalog's repertoire in the 1950s. Bobby Darin was the only successful white interpreter of the Atlantic repertoire in the 1950s, whose first single, I Found A Million Dollar Baby, from June 1957, was still without a response. It was a year before Splish Splash literally flushed it up in June 1958. Recorded on April 10, 1958, the song garnished with water noises caricatured the singer bathing in front of the party in uptempo format. The million seller, launched on May 19, 1958, is considered to be one of the first stereo mixed single recordings, because the Atlantic recording studios at 156 West 57th Street (Atlantic Studios 2) had the first Ampex 8-track tape machine in January 1958 Acquired worldwide, so sound engineer Tom Dowd was not completely familiar with the device when it was recorded. From the same session came the next million seller Queen Of The Hop , which finally gave Bobby Darin the image of a rock'n'roll artist. Producer Jerry Wexler had Darin also present songs influenced by jazz. Together with the orchestra of Richard Wess, on December 19, 1958, four titles were created with Tom Dowd as the sound engineer, of which Mack The Knife sold a total of 3.5 million copies after publication in August 1959. However, the single was only decoupled from the LP That's All under pressure from the radio stations , because only Mack The Knife received an intensive airplay from it. The swing-style version is the most successful version of this song.

The 1960s and 1970s

By the departure of the Clovers in August 1957 and Ray Charles in November 1959, Atlantic Records was undoubtedly weakened; Ruth Brown and LaVern Baker didn't deliver any more big hits. At the same time, the Coasters were no longer convincing at the subsidiary label, Bobby Darin joined Capitol Records in 1962. In addition, the permanent staff fluctuations at the Drifters made the label to create, but managed to successfully position their lead singer Ben E. King as a soloist and to replace the vacancy at the Drifters in September 1960 by Rudy Lewis. With the million-seller Save the Last Dance for Me , created on May 19, 1960 and released in June 1960 , the Drifters achieved their only number one in the pop hit parade, after which the group's successes gradually waned. A major loss was the departure of Leiber / Stoller, who founded their own record labels in November 1962 after a dispute over billing. Atlantic Records made profits up to and including 1963 and was now under pressure.

Atlantic decided to look for talent to fill the gaps in its repertoire. First it was possible to win Solomon Burke for the ailing label, which was produced by the newcomer Bert Berns ; Berns also took on the producer role for the Drifters. In the south in particular, Jerry Wexler found what he was looking for at small record labels. In October 1960, he found Satellite Records in Memphis, later renamed Stax Records . By Carla Thomas was here just Gee Whiz (Satellite # 104, recorded in August 1960, published in November 1960 Atlantic # 2086: published on January 21, 1961) entered the market. After Atlantic acquired the distribution rights, the title climbed to number 5 on the R&B charts and 10 on the pop charts with record sales of 500,000 copies. The Mar-Keys with the instrumental Last Night (recorded in September 1960, # 2 R&B, # 3 Pop) was released on Satellite # 107 in June 1961 and was the first instrumental million seller from Memphis. The cast Wayne Jackson (trumpet), Charles "Packy" Axton (tenor saxophone), Don Nix (baritone saxophone), Jerry Lee "Smoochie" Smith (piano / organ), Steve Cropper (guitar), Donald 'Duck' Dunn (bass) and Jerry Johnson (drums) formed the core of the later session band in the Stax studios. Satellite # 111 was the last record to be marketed independently in October 1961 before the label was renamed Stax Records.

Aretha Franklin - Respect (April 1967)

In another search, Jerry Wexler struck gold in Alabama, where he discovered the FAME recording studios in the fall of 1964 . Again, they did solid session work, especially with Joe Tex . Wilson Pickett's harsh voice was difficult to produce, so that first attempts with Atlantic Records in New York failed. Jerry Wexler first introduced him to the Stax Studios, where In the Midnight Hour and four other titles were created on May 12, 1965 , then to the Fame Studios. On May 8, 9 and 11, 1966, a total of 11 tracks were recorded here with Pickett. From January 24, 1967, Wexler had Aretha Franklin produced here, and two new hit parade stars had been won for the Atlantic label.

In the second half of the 1960s, Atlantic took a political position - against the background of the worsening domestic political conflicts in the USA: As part of the celebration entitled Soul Together for the twentieth anniversary of the company, Atlantic sponsored a concert in Madison Square Garden 500 colored members of NATRA (National Association of Television and Radio Announcers) were invited and the proceeds from the concert went to the “ Martin Luther King Memorial Fund” and the program initiated by NATRA to support underprivileged children.

The rhythm - & - blues-oriented Atlantic label also decided to acquire promising white rock bands, most of which were signed with the subsidiary label Atco. As early as 1954, Wexler recognized the increasing importance of white music in a Cashbox article and called for changes to the blues. On July 1, 1966, the British band Cream was signed. This was followed in August 1967 by the Bee Gees , in December 1967 by Iron Butterfly , whose album In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida became Atlantics' best-selling album with 25 million copies. On November 13, 1968, Led Zeppelin signed , whose album Led Zeppelin IV narrowly missed this record with 23 million copies. Then came Yes in January 1971, followed by the Rolling Stones in May 1971 when their long-term contract with Decca ended. Genesis joined the label in December 1974. On May 3, 1975, Wexler announced his departure from Atlantic Records in a letter.

Recording technology

When Tom Dowd joined Atlantic Records in 1954 as an employed sound engineer, the first of the label's three recording studios included a Magnacord recorder. The recording studio, a converted office on the fifth floor at 236 West 56th Street, was mostly used at night. The first recording session with Dowd was Money Honey on August 9, 1953 by the Drifters. A permanent recording studio (A-1) was established one block north at 156 West 57 Street in 1956, and another studio was added in 1959 at 11 West 60th Street. The world's first 8-track Ampex stereo recording technology (Ampex 5258) was used by Atlantic Records in January 1958 and revolutionized recording technology.

Record label

Atlantic Records with Rhythm & Blues

At the beginning to the mid-1950s, Atlantic Records had succeeded in gaining a firm place in R&B and a regular place in the R&B charts. From 1956 onwards, the company's and production policy was increasingly aimed at the white youth market.

The following statistics illustrate the important market position Atlantic had on the R&B market in the mid-1950s. According to Billboard's sales statistics for the R&B market in 1954, Atlantic made eleven singles among the 30 best-selling records of that year: The Drifters were represented with three titles: Honey Love # 2, Money Honey # 11, Such A Night # 18; the clovers with three titles: Lovey Dovey # 9, Little Mama # 17, I've Got My Eyes On You # 26; Ruth Brown with What A Dream # 3 and Mambo Baby # 24; Joe Turner was represented with two titles: Shake, Rattle And Roll # 5, Honey Hush # 15; in addition there are the chords with Sh-Boom # 8 on the sub-label Cat. In 1955, five Atlantic singles were among the 25 best-selling records on the R&B market. In 1956, eight Atlantic records were among the 50 best-selling singles on the R&B market. This tendency to decrease in the share of Atlantic singles on the R&B market, caused by the increased competition with other up-and-coming independent labels and the strengthening of the major labels, resulted in a growing presence of Atlantic in the 1950s Pop charts opposite. While Atlantic made it into the top 20 of the pop charts with one record in 1955, together with the Atco sub-label there were three in 1956, six in 1957, nine in 1958, five in 1960 and ten in 1961.

The question of the reasons for the company's success into the early 1960s is explained in the secondary literature with a bundle of factors that have come together at Atlantic. The founders of Atlantic had the roots of their musical socialization in jazz, through which they had developed a feeling for the roots of black music on the one hand, but at the same time also for the importance of the arrangement in music. It seems quite appropriate to describe Atlantic's “Harlem Sound” as “arranged rhythm and blues” or “well-dressed” or “manicured” rhythm and blues. It may also have played a role that the leading personalities at Atlantic had a significantly higher level of education compared to the operators of other independent labels.

On the Atlantic label, the Drifters and LaVern Baker made it into the Top 100 charts with one single each in 1955, a modest start, but with the advent of rock'n'roll, the label's first heyday began: in 1956 it had already reached ten Title a place in the Top 100, in 1957 there were 14, 1958 15 songs and in 1959 at least 17. The first Top 20 hit for the Atlantic label was Ivory Joe Hunter in 1956 with the song Since I Met You Baby (Atlantic # 1111), who came to 12th place. The label had its first top 10 hit in 1957 with Mr. Lee from the Bobettes (Atlantic 1144), the title reached number 6 and stayed in the charts for 24 weeks.

After the previous lead singer Clyde McPhatter left the Drifters in late 1954 to attempt a solo career, the group's hit streak broke, which by 1959 only had two placements in the top 10 of the R&B charts and four placements in the lower half of the Billboard Hot 100 managed, ab. When recording in 1958, Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexlet took over the production and replaced z. T. the Drifters by the "Ray Ellis Singers" ( Moonlight Bay ), although the single later appeared under the band name "Drifters", the "Drifters" reduced to a duo consisting of Bobby Hendricks and Bill Pinkney ( Suddenly There's A Valley ). The resounding success did not materialize. At the end of 1958 the previous group "The Drifters" was dissolved. The New York vocal group called The Five Crowns was signed by Atlantic in May 1959, renamed Drifters and left to the Leiber / Stoller production team. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller recorded with the new "Drifters", whose lead singer was Ben E. King , in March 1959 on the title There Goes My Baby . In April 1959 the single was released (Atlantic # 2025), reached number one on the R&B charts and number two on the Billboard Hot 100.

From mid-1957 to early 1959 there was another, albeit short-lived sub-label of Atlantic: "East-West Records", on which a total of 126 singles were released. The East-West label was more rock-oriented and only got one place in the pop charts, the Kingsmen's Week End , which reached # 54 on the Hot 10 in September 1958. The Kingsmen had been Bill Haley's companion group under the name "The Comets" . The title Week End was written by Comets / Kingsmen members Francis Beecher, Rudy Pompilli and Billy Williamson. The follow-up single Conga Rock appeared in early 1959, but was unsuccessful. In the spring of 1959 the sub-label was discontinued. The label East-West Records is not identical to the labels that later existed under the same or similar name.

Atlantic Records as a jazz label

Atlantic had already released LP series since 1949, the 100 series, which begins with order number 108, and the 1200 series. Until 1951, only speech records with musical accompaniment were released on the 1200 series, e.g. B. Poems and scenes from Romeo and Juliet , but from 1952 Atlantic went over to release the label's jazz LPs in this series. The label's jazz series was initially the 100 series, on which between 1950 and 1953 z. B. LPs have been released by jazz pianists Joe Bushkin, Erroll Garner, Billy Taylor and Jimmy Jones , jazz pianists Mary Lou Williams and Barbara Carroll , saxophonists Don Byas and Sidney Bechet and jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt . At the end of 1953, the 100 LP series was discontinued and the 1200 series became the Atlantic Records jazz series.

In the mid-1950s, Nesuhi Ertegun took on the task of expanding Atlantic's jazz catalog. Having previously worked in California, he signed a number of well-known jazz interpreters from the West Coast, including the Modern Jazz Quartet , which recorded about 20 LPs for Atlantic in the following years.

First, jazz and R&B recordings were published in the 1200 series, until 1956 Nesuhi Ertegun founded the 8000 series for the R&B sector and the 1200 series was reserved for jazz recordings alone. In 1955 and 1956, 36 jazz LPs were released in the 1200 series, including records by Shorty Rogers , Mabel Mercer , Bobby Short , Paul Barbarin , Lee Konitz , Wilbur DeParis , Tony Fruscella , George Wein , Jack Montrose , Jess Stacy , Erroll Garner , Chris Connor , Teddy Charles , Modern Jazz Quartet , Charles Mingus , Lars Gullin , Al Hibbler

Recordings with Dizzy Gillespie followed in 1957, Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk in 1958 , and Chris Barber in 1959 . In the 1960s, Atlantic released LPs e.g. B. by John Coltrane , Woody Herman , Herbie Mann and Mose Allison . Some music historically relevant recordings were published in the series, such as E.g. the LP Animal Dance (Atlantic SD 1402) by John Lewis and Albert Mangelsdorff with the Zagreb Jazz Orchestra in 1964.

The 1200 series ran until October 1977 and ended with order number SD 1700, the LP Three or Four Shades of Blues by Charles Mingus. A total of 479 LPs were released from 1955 to 1977 in the 1200 series under the direction of Nesuhi Ertegun.

Jazz collection

Atco sub-label

Since Abramson's return to the company in 1955, tensions between him on the one hand and Ertegun and Wexler on the other had increased, so that Abramson sold his company shares to Ertegun and Wexler in December 1958. A short time later, the two also took over the shares of Abramson's ex-wife and the New York dentist, who had given money to found Atlantic Records in 1947.

The Atco label only made its breakthrough on the "white" market after Abramson left. The success of this sub-label was mainly due to two artists: the "Coasters" and Bobby Darin , who were responsible for the 13 top 20 Responsible for hits of the label until 1960.

The first single of "Coaster" on the Atco label Smokey Joe's Cafe (Atco 6059) was released under the band name "The Robins" and in December 1955 reached a place in the lower quarter of the charts. The next two singles, already under the name "Coasters", Down In Mexico (Atco 6064) and One Kiss Led To Another (Atco 6073), both of which were released in 1956, did not have any notable success on the "white market". The group's breakthrough came with the single Young Blood / Searchin (Atco 6087) released in March 1957 , with Searchin coming in at number 5 in the Top 100, Young Blood reached number 8. In 1958 and 1959, the top ten hits Yakety followed Yak (1st place), Charlie Brown (2nd place), Along Came Jones (9th place) and Poison Ivy (7th place) Although the "Coasters" released records at Atco until 1966, Leiber and Stoller, who shared all hits of the " Coasters “turned to new tasks in 1960 - and the group had no more top 20 hits.


In the mid-1960s, the company got into a sales crisis. The number of hits fell noticeably from 10 top twenty hits in 1961 through six in 1962 and five in 1963 to three in 1964. Although Atlantic had created the Uptown Rhythm & Blues , other independent companies soon followed Copied sound and produced it no worse than Atlantic itself, such as the New York company " Scepter- Wand". Many composers and producers who had worked for Atlantic went into business for themselves by founding their own record labels: Phil Spector , Goffin and King, or Bert Berns. In 1965 Leiber and Stoller left Atlantic and founded " Red Bird Records " with Phil Spector, George Goldner and Shadow Morton . In addition, a serious competitor had emerged in the early sixties with the Detroit company Motown Records . In addition, by the mid-sixties numerous independent record companies had been bought by the large record companies, had to go into bankruptcy or were in considerable financial difficulties.

Against this background, Atlantic Records was sold in October 1967 for US $ 17.5 million to Warner Brothers / Seven Arts through a share swap, which in turn was formed in 1965 from a takeover of Warner Brothers Records . The Atlantic management retained important functions in the new group, although in future it was to take care of the strategic business policy and no longer had any opportunity to intervene in day-to-day business decisions. In May 1968 the distribution contract with Stax ended, in the whole of 1968 Atlantic Records achieved a record turnover of US $ 45 million. The buyer Warner Brothers was in turn acquired in June 1969 by the conglomerate Kinney National Company . This conglomerate bought Elektra Records in 1970 , now called Warner-Elektra-Atlantic (WEA) Records from 1971 and in a size that came close to that of the major labels . In 1972 Elektra acquired the Asylum Records label , and the entire group was renamed Warner Communications . Despite the sales, the label name Atlantic Records remained to this day. In the 1980s, the label ventured into new musical areas. The label's portfolio included both thrash metal bands such as Testament and artists from the rap area. These included musicians like Snow , but also gangsta rap artists . The alternative band Billy Talent is also under contract with Atlantic. In 1990 Atlantic sales were $ 400 million, and in 1997 the Atlantic Group (consisting of Atlantic, Rhino and Curb Records ) had worldwide sales of US $ 750 million, making it the record company with the highest sales in the United States.


Of the first 20 singles the young company released, eleven were by Erroll Garner and three by Joe Bushkin , but none of these singles had the slightest bit of success. The label had its first breakthrough to a wider audience when Ertegun signed Ruth Brown in 1949 and she was able to reach first place in the R&B charts in October 1950 with Teardrops In My Eyes . After all, in 1950 the still young company had a total of three singles that made it into the top ten of the R&B charts. Another R&B success with Ruth Brown came in 1953 when Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean stayed at number one on the R&B charts for five weeks. When recording, Ray Charles , who had been signed by Ertegun in 1952, led the backing band.

Of the thirty most successful R&B records of 1954, 23 were produced by independent record companies, including eleven productions by Atlantic and Cat. Atlantic Records put a total of 864 titles in the R&B charts between 1947 and 2004, 39 of them # 1 up to 1968. Between 1955 and 1990, Atlantic had 772 singles in the pop charts and thus ranked fourth among all US record labels during that period with the major labels.


  • Charlie Gillett: Making Tracks. Atlantic Records And The Growth Of A Multi-Billion-Dollar Industry . St. Albans: Panther Books, 1975 (238 pages) ISBN 0-586-04018-8
  • Michel Ruppli: Atlantic Records: A Discography . 4 volumes. Westport, Conn .: Greenwood Press, 1979 ISBN 0-313-21170-1
  • Dorothy Wade, Justine Picardie: Music Man: Ahmet Ertegun. Atlantic Records And The Triumph Of Rock'n'Roll . New York: Norton, 1990 (303 pp.) ISBN 0-393-02635-3
  • Jerry Wexler, David Ritz: Rhythm and Blues. A Life In American Music . New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994 (XIV, 334 pp.) ISBN 0-312-11376-5

Web links

Commons : Atlantic Records  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Charlie Gillett: Making Tracks: The Story of Atlantic Records . 1988, p. 20
  2. Billboard Magazine of December 15, 1958, pages 2 and 85 ( full text in the Google book search)
  3. As the author of the music magazine Billboard , he coined the expression Rhythm & Blues instead of “Race music” in 1949, the charts have been officially called Rhythm & Blues Charts since June 25, 1949; Joel Whitburn: Top R&B Singles 1942–1988 . 1988, p. 11
  4. The core of the studio band included Sam "The Man" Taylor or King Curtis (tenor saxophone), Wilbur De Paris (trombone), Henry van Walls or Jesse Stone (piano), Jimmy Oliver or Mickey Baker (guitar), Lloyd Trotman (bass) and Conny Kay or Panama Francis (drums)
  5. Jim Cogan, William Clark: Temples of Sound . 2003, p. 168
  6. Dorothy Wade, Justin Picardie: Music Man: Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic Records and the Triumph of Rock'n'Roll . 1990, p. 35.
  7. ^ Joseph Murrells: Million Selling Records . 1985, p. 70.
  8. ^ Joseph Murrells: Million Selling Records . 1985, p. 72.
  9. ^ Joseph Murrells: Million Selling Records . 1985, p. 78.
  10. Bill Millar: The Drifters. The Rise And The Fall Of The Black Vocal Group . Studio Vista, London 1971, p. 111.
  11. ^ Joel Whitburn: Top Pop Singles 1955-1993 . Record Research Inc., Monomonee Falls / Wisconsin 1994, p. 181.
  12. Date after: Lynn Ellis McCutcheon: Rhythm And Blues. An Experience And Adventure In Its Origin And Development . Arlington / Virginia: RW Beatty Ltd., 1971, p. 99.
  13. On the Doo Wop groups in New York cf. Philip Groia: They All Sang At The Corner. New York City's Rhythm And Blues Vocal Groups Of The 1950’s . Edmond Pub. Co., Setauket / New York 1974.
  14. a b Adam White: Billboard Interview With Ahmet Ertegun . In: Fifty Years of Atlantic Records Supplement to Billboard , January 17, 1998 issue, p. A-12.
  15. ^ Ed Ward: Declaration Of Independence . In: Ed Ward, Geoffrey Stokes, Ken Tucker: Rock Of Ages. The "Rolling Stone" History Of Rock & Roll . Introduction by Jann S. Wenner. Rolling Stone Press / Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs / New Jersey 1986, p. 54 f.
  16. ^ Arnold Shaw: Soul. From the beginnings of the blues to the hits from Memphis and Philadelphia . Translated from the English by Walter Bengs. Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek near Hamburg 1980, p. 205.
  17. For the characterization of Ruth Brown's music see: Arnold Shaw: Rock 'n' Roll. The stars, the music and the myths of the 50s . German translation by Teja Schwaner. Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1978, p. 101.
  18. ^ Joseph Murrells: Million Selling Records . 1985, p. 115.
  19. Homepage of Bobby Darin about Splish Splash . Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  20. Al DiOrio: Bobby Darin: The Incredible Story of An Amazing Life . 2004, p. 72.
  21. ^ Charlie Gillett: Making Tracks: The Story of Atlantic Records . 1988, p. 169.
  22. ^ Rob Bowman: Soulsville: The Story of Stax Records . 1997, p. 18.
  23. ^ Joseph Murrells: Million Selling Records . 1985, p. 155.
  24. ^ Arnold Shaw: The World Of Soul . Paperback Books / Kinney Service Co., New York 1971, pp. 249 f.
  25. ^ Joseph Murrells: Million Selling Records . 1985, p. 263.
  26. Rolling Stone Magazine, Issue 1018, January 25, 2007.
  27. ^ David Simons: Studio Stories: How the Great New York Records Were Made . 2004, p. 50 f.
  28. According to a statistic by Charlie Gillett, Atlantic / Atco had the following number of placements in the R&B top 10: 1950 = 3, 1951 = 8, 1952 = 9, 1953 = 9, 1954 = 15, 1955 = 16, 1956 = 17; see. Charlie Gillett: The Sound Of The City. The history of rock music . German by Teja Schwaner. Zweiausendeins, Frankfurt / Main 1979, p. 394.
  29. 1954's Top R&B Records . In: Billboard . Edition of December 25, 1954, p. 17.
  30. 1955's Top R&B Records . In: Billboard . Edition of January 7, 1956, p. 20.
  31. 1956's Top Rhythm And Blues Records . In: Billboard . Edition of January 26, 1957, p. 70.
  32. Own count based on Stephen Nugent, Annie Fowler, Pete Fowler: Chart Log Of American / British Top 20 Hits 1955–1974 . In: Charlie Gillett, Simon Frith (Eds.): Rock File 4 . Panther Books, Frogmor / St. Albans 1976.
  33. ^ Arnold Shaw: The World Of Soul . Paperback Books / Kinney Service Co., New York 1971, p. 255.
  34. John Broven: Records Makers And Breakers. Voices Of The Independent Rock'n'Roll Pioneers . 2009 (Music In American Life), p. 60.
  35. Own count based on Joel Whitburn: Top Pop Records 1955–1969 . Record Research Inc., Menomonee Falls / Wisconsin 1970.
  36. Bill Millar: The Drifters. The Rise And Fall Of The Black Vocal Group . Studio Vista, London 1971, p. 106.
  37. Lynn Ellis McCutcheon: Rhythm and Blues. An Experience And Adventure In Its Origin And Development . RW Beatty Ltd., Arlington / Virginia 1971, pp. 167-169.
  38. Catalog numbers East-West 100 to 125
  39. ^ Joel Whitburn: Top Pop Singles 1955-1993 . Record Research, Menomonee Falls / Wisconsin 1994, p. 333.
  40. The "Kingsmen" are not to be confused with the group of the same name who released several hits from 1963 to 1966, including Louie Louie and The Jolly Green Giant , on the Wand Records label.
  41. ↑ In 1990 Atlantic again launched a sub-label under the name East West Records America , which - with several restructuring and mergers with other labels - existed until 2000. The independent label East West Records , founded in 2005, is owned by Warner.
  42. The serial names are based on the catalog numbers; The 100 series includes all records with catalog numbers in the range from 100 to 199; In the specific example, these are the LPs with catalog numbers 108 to 144, which were published between May 1950 and August 1953
  43. The publication of this LP series begins in March 1949 with the order number 1201 and initially consisted of three 78 RPM records in one package.
  44. ^ Various - Atlantic Jazz. In: Discogs. Discogs, accessed July 18, 2020 .
  45. Own count based on Joel Whitburn: Top Pop Records 1955–1969 . Record Research Inc., Menomonee Falls / Wisconsin 1970; Comparative data compared with: Stephen Nugent / Annie Fowler / Pete Fowler: Chart Log Of American / British Top 20 Hits 1955–1974 . In: Charlie Gillett / Simon Frith (eds.): Rock File 4 . Panther Books, Frogmor / St. Albans 1976
  46. ^ Joel Whitburn: Top Pop Singles 1955-1993 . Record Research Inc., Menomonee Falls 1994, p. 120.
  47. In Great Britain, four Coasters titles made the hit parade: 1957 Searchin # 30, 1958 Yakety Yak # 12 and Charlie Brown # 6, 1959 Poison Ivy # 15. Cf. Günter Ehnert (ed.): Hit Records. British Chart Singles 1950–1965 . Taurus Press, Hamburg 1988, p. 29.
  48. Counting from: Stephen Nugent, Annie Fowler, Pete Fowler: Chart Log Of American / British Top 20 Hits 1955–1974 . In: Charlie Gillett, Simon Frith (Eds.): Rock File 4 . Panther Books, Frogmor / St. Albans 1976.
  49. ^ Charlie Gillett: The Sound Of The City. The history of rock music . German by Teja Schwaner. Zweiausendeins, Frankfurt / Main 1979, p. 248.
  50. See Horst-Peter Meyer: Dancing In The Street. Motown. Sound Of The Sixties . Sonnentanz Verlag, Augsburg 1995.
  51. John Broven: Record Makers And Record Breakers. Voices Of The Independent Rock 'n' Roll Pioneers . Gretna / Alabama 2009, p. 71.
  52. ^ Robert Greenfield: Ahmet Ertegun. The Greatest Record Man Of All Time . In: Rolling Stone , Issue 1018, January 25, 2007.
  53. ^ Charlie Gillett: The Sound Of The City. The history of rock music . German by Teja Schwaner. Zweiausendeins Verlag, Frankfurt / Main 1979, p. 99 f.
  54. Steve Chapple, Reebee Garofalo: Who Owns Rock Music ? History and Politics of the Music Industry . German by Teja Schwaner. Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1980, p. 44.
  55. ^ Joel Whitburn: Top R&B Singles 1943-2004 . 2004, p. 794.