MUSIC MAN: Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic Records, and the Triumph of Rock 'n' Roll by Justine & Dorothy Wade Picardie

MUSIC MAN: Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic Records, and the Triumph of Rock 'n' Roll

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Less a biography of music mogul Ertegun than a rather tepid recounting of the development of the record company he heads. Much of the material here proves superficial or overly familiar. Wes Smith's The Pied Pipers of Rock 'n' Roll (1989), for example, covered the ""payola"" scandals that shook the popular music world in the 1950's far more completely, and his reporting on the life and times of Alan ""Moondog"" Freed is more insightful than anything Picardie and Wade seem able to supply. Even when the authors turn their attention to the colorful and controversial Ertegun--surely a potentially revealing and possibly explosive subject--there is a sense of reticence about their investigations. It's true they mention the disagreements between Mick Jagger and Ertegun, the squabbling that went on among the Atlantic partners over the years, the deals (and throats) that were cut along the way--but by and large theirs is a rather pallid, inoffensive picture of a rough-and-tumble world. The tempo does pick up slightly, though, when Picardie and Wade begin to delve into possible Mob tie-ins with the music world. Many of their findings in this area are eye-opening, and their portraits of the brash Morris Levy and his friends, ""the guys with funny names--the Three-fingered Somebody, and Willy the Someone,"" are deftly brushed in. The authors are also admirably straightforward about the problems created for the record industry by the Black Power-based Fairplay Committee in the 1960's. Occasionally of interest but too often bland and uninvolving.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1990
Publisher: Norton