NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The 60th anniversary of Atlantic Records is being heralded by two major events: the PBS television premiere of the American Masters documentary film, "Atlantic Records: The House That Ahmet Built," and the simultaneous Starbucks Entertainment CD release of "Atlantic 60th Anniversary: R&B Classics Chosen By Ahmet Ertegun."
"American Masters Atlantic Records: The House That Ahmet Built" premieres on PBS on May 2 at 9 pm (ET). Produced by Thirteen/WNET New York and Warner Music Group, the two-hour film follows the career of the late Atlantic co-founder Ahmet Ertegun and his transforming impact on the evolution of contemporary music.
Four years in the making, the film is structured around a series of specially filmed conversations between Ertegun and many of the artists and colleagues whose lives he so greatly influenced, including Solomon Burke, Chris Blackwell, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Aretha Franklin, David Geffen, Taylor Hackford, Mick Jagger, Mick Jones, Kid Rock, Ben E. King, Leiber and Stoller, Wynton Marsalis, Bette Midler, Paolo Nutini, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Jann Wenner, Jerry Wexler and his wife Mica Ertegun.
"The House That Ahmet Built" features rare, private, and classic clips, live performances and recording sessions. Narrated by Bette Midler, the film is written, directed and co-produced by Susan Steinberg. Phil Carson is the producer, and Susan Lacy is the executive producer of American Masters. Now celebrating its 21st season, American Masters has won 17 Emmy Awards, eight Peabodys, an Oscar, a duPont-Columbia, and two Grammys. Following the PBS broadcast premiere of "Atlantic Records: The House That Ahmet Built," the documentary will be released on DVD in June by Rhino Entertainment/Atlantic Records.
"Ahmet Ertegun is someone I greatly admired and held dear. His indisputable influence, combined with a passionate love of music and a unique aesthetic, altered our cultural landscape," said Lacy. "We'll never forget him because we'll never stop listening to the music he introduced to the world. He was a true American Master."
Principal filming of the documentary was completed just days before Ahmet Ertegun's tragic fall backstage at a Rolling Stones concert in New York City last October, which led to his passing on December 14 at the age of 83. Among the many events captured in the film is a special tribute to Atlantic and Ertegun that took place last summer at the 40th Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.
"The program is conceived as both a tribute to Atlantic Records – perhaps the most influential independent music company of our time – and to the man himself," said Steinberg. "When we began this film four years ago, none of us could have anticipated that Mr. Ertegun's sudden and tragic death would cause the program to stand as an epitaph to a man whose energy, passion, good taste, and love of music so enriched the world."
Coinciding with the premiere of "The House That Ahmet Built," Starbucks Entertainment, in conjunction with Rhino Custom Products, is releasing a special CD entitled "Atlantic 60th Anniversary: R&B Classics Chosen By Ahmet Ertegun." All 17 tracks were personally selected by Ertegun for this collection before his passing last year. Included are songs by Big Joe Turner, The Drifters, Ray Charles, LaVern Baker, Booker T. and the MG's, Barbara Lewis, Doris Troy, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Arthur Conley, R.B. Greaves, Les McCann & Eddie Harris, Aretha Franklin, Major Harris, The Spinners, Chic, and Sister Sledge.
"Atlantic 60th Anniversary" is being released in Starbucks Company-operation locations in the U.S. and Canada and online at www.starbucks.com/hearmusic. Produced by Ahmet Ertegun and co-produced by Bob Kaus, the compilation features liner notes by Steven Solder.
The extraordinary life of Ahmet Ertegun, who was buried in his native Turkey, was celebrated at a private event held April 17 at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Among those who paid tribute to Ertegun in music and words were Solomon Burke, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Dr. John, Genesis, John Paul Jones, Mick Jones, Kid Rock, Ben E. King, Manhattan Transfer, Wynton Marsalis, Bette Midler, Sam Moore, Stevie Nicks, Turkish diplomat Egemen Bagis, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Oscar de la Renta, David Geffen, Taylor Hackford, Mick Jagger, Henry Kissinger, Jann Wenner and Jerry Wexler.
–Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen