Atlantic Records: History & Artists

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

Started by two Turkish brothers who loved the sounds of African American Music, the artists represented by Atlantic Records represent some of the greatest achievers in jazz, rhythm and blues, and hip hop.

History

Founded in 1947, Atlantic Records set out to bring the sounds of black musicians, most notably rhythm and blues, jazz, and early rock and roll, to a wider audience. Its founders, the Ertegun brothers, headed by Ahmet Ertegun, were actually the sons of Turkey's first ambassador to the United States, but decided not to return to Turkey. Instead, they stayed on to explore the American music scene, specifically African American music.

In late 1947 Atlantic Records was incorporated, and immediately threatened with a strike in 1948 that would keep many musicians from recording for a year. The company reached deep into savings to survive that first year, but by 1949 was again producing music. During this stage, the label was decidedly focused on jazz and rhythm and blues, most notably Big Joe Turner and Lead Belly.

In 1952, the label signed one of the most successful jazz artists of all time, Ray Charles. Other great musicians, including such luminaries as Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin would follow. However, the most enduring hires made by the label were often behind the scenes. Tom Dowd helped keep Atlantic on the cutting edge of technology, beginning with his push to record music in stereo, as opposed with only one microphone. Also of note is the role that Jerry Wexler played for the firm, keeping the label at the front of many artists' minds through his publicity work.

Atlantic also formed strategic partnerships with other companies, most notably Stax Records. This allowed Atlantic access to many emerging stars, of whom Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding are perhaps the most well remembered. However, this success made the company a target for larger groups, and by 1967 Atlantic was acquired by Warner Brothers, which used many of the trademarks of Atlantic, even to this day. Following this sale, the label began to sign artists from different genres, most notably rock and roll. This allowed Atlantic to sign groups like Genesis and Led Zeppelin.

Artists

Atlantic captured much of the market share in the rhythm and blues and jazz markets, meaning that its roster in those genres is notably impressive.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support