Atlantic Records
Overview
Atlantic Records is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 record label
Record label
In the music industry, a record label is a brand and a trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Most commonly, a record label is the company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing and promotion,...

 best known for its many recordings of rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B, is a genre of popular African American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a...

, rock and roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

, and jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

. Over its first 20 years of operation Atlantic earned a reputation as one of the most important American independent recording labels, specializing in jazz, R&B and soul recordings by African-American artists, a position greatly enhanced by its distribution deal with Stax Records
Stax Records
Stax Records is an American record label, originally based in Memphis, Tennessee.Founded in 1957 as Satellite Records, the name Stax Records was adopted in 1961. The label was a major factor in the creation of the Southern soul and Memphis soul music styles, also releasing gospel, funk, jazz, and...

.

In 1967 Atlantic became a wholly owned subsidiary of Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
Warner Bros.-Seven Arts was formed in 1967 and became defunct in 1970, when Seven Arts Productions acquired Jack Warner's controlling interest in Warner Bros. for $32 million and merged with it. The deal also included Warner Bros. Records, Reprise Records and the B&W Looney Tunes library...

, now the Warner Music Group
Warner Music Group
Warner Music Group is the third largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry, making it one of the big four record companies...

, and expanded into rock and pop music, signing Cream
Cream (band)
Cream were a 1960s British rock supergroup consisting of bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce, guitarist/vocalist Eric Clapton, and drummer Ginger Baker...

, Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin were an English rock band, active in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Formed in 1968, they consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham...

, Yes
Yes (band)
Yes are an English rock band who achieved worldwide success with their progressive, art, and symphonic style of rock music. Regarded as one of the pioneers of the progressive genre, Yes are known for their lengthy songs, mystical lyrics, elaborate album art, and live stage sets...

 and Foreigner
Foreigner (band)
Foreigner is a British-American rock band, originally formed in 1976 by veteran English musicians Mick Jones and ex-King Crimson member Ian McDonald along with American vocalist Lou Gramm...

.
Encyclopedia
Atlantic Records is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 record label
Record label
In the music industry, a record label is a brand and a trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Most commonly, a record label is the company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing and promotion,...

 best known for its many recordings of rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B, is a genre of popular African American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a...

, rock and roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

, and jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

. Over its first 20 years of operation Atlantic earned a reputation as one of the most important American independent recording labels, specializing in jazz, R&B and soul recordings by African-American artists, a position greatly enhanced by its distribution deal with Stax Records
Stax Records
Stax Records is an American record label, originally based in Memphis, Tennessee.Founded in 1957 as Satellite Records, the name Stax Records was adopted in 1961. The label was a major factor in the creation of the Southern soul and Memphis soul music styles, also releasing gospel, funk, jazz, and...

.

In 1967 Atlantic became a wholly owned subsidiary of Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
Warner Bros.-Seven Arts was formed in 1967 and became defunct in 1970, when Seven Arts Productions acquired Jack Warner's controlling interest in Warner Bros. for $32 million and merged with it. The deal also included Warner Bros. Records, Reprise Records and the B&W Looney Tunes library...

, now the Warner Music Group
Warner Music Group
Warner Music Group is the third largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry, making it one of the big four record companies...

, and expanded into rock and pop music, signing Cream
Cream (band)
Cream were a 1960s British rock supergroup consisting of bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce, guitarist/vocalist Eric Clapton, and drummer Ginger Baker...

, Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin were an English rock band, active in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Formed in 1968, they consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham...

, Yes
Yes (band)
Yes are an English rock band who achieved worldwide success with their progressive, art, and symphonic style of rock music. Regarded as one of the pioneers of the progressive genre, Yes are known for their lengthy songs, mystical lyrics, elaborate album art, and live stage sets...

 and Foreigner
Foreigner (band)
Foreigner is a British-American rock band, originally formed in 1976 by veteran English musicians Mick Jones and ex-King Crimson member Ian McDonald along with American vocalist Lou Gramm...

. In 2004 Atlantic Records and its sister label Elektra Records
Elektra Records
Elektra Records is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group. In 2004, it was consolidated into WMG's Atlantic Records Group. After five years of dormancy, the label was revived by Atlantic in 2009....

 merged into Atlantic Records Group
Atlantic Records Group
Atlantic Records Group is an umbrella label founded in 2004 by Warner Music Group to oversee the labels assigned to its Atlantic Records unit....

. Craig Kallman
Craig Kallman
Craig Kallman is Chairman and CEO of Atlantic Records.Craig Kallman signed the legendary lyricist Percee P and released his sought after 12" "Puttin' Heads To Bed" on his imprint Big Beat in the early 1990s. He joined the company in 1991, when Atlantic acquired Kallman's independent Big Beat...

 is currently Chairman of Atlantic Records. Label co-founder Ahmet Ertegün
Ahmet Ertegun
Ahmet Ertegün was a Turkish American musician and businessman, best known as the founder and president of Atlantic Records. He also wrote classic blues and pop songs and served as Chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and museum...

 served as Founding Chairman until his death on December 14, 2006 at age 83. The label also has a number of deals with previously independent labels such as Must Destroy
Must Destroy
Must Destroy is the independent record label that discovered The Darkness and Goldie Lookin' Chain and released records by bands such as Do Me Bad Things, Tramp Attack and Computerman....

 (which brought Goldie Lookin Chain
Goldie Lookin Chain
Goldie Lookin Chain is a comedic rap music group based in Newport, South Wales. The group produces humorous, controversial and often explicit songs that satirise hip hop, today's consumer society, the ‘chav’ culture and life in Newport and south Wales in general.-Background:Many of the songs...

 and The Darkness into the label) and VP Records
VP Records
VP Records is an independent reggae record label, located in Queens, New York. It is best known for producing Caribbean singers.-The foundation:...

 in Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, home to reggae
Reggae
Reggae is a music genre first developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s. While sometimes used in a broader sense to refer to most types of Jamaican music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that originated following on the development of ska and rocksteady.Reggae is based...

 artists such as Sean Paul
Sean Paul
Sean Paul Ryan Francis Henriques , who performs under stage name Sean Paul, is a Jamaican pop rap and reggae singer.-1973–1996: Early life:...

.

Early years

In 1944 brothers Nesuhi
Nesuhi Ertegun
Nesuhi Ertegun was a Turkish record producer and executive of Atlantic Records and WEA International.-Background:Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Nesuhi and his family, including younger brother Ahmet, moved to Washington, D.C...

 and Ahmet Ertegun
Ahmet Ertegun
Ahmet Ertegün was a Turkish American musician and businessman, best known as the founder and president of Atlantic Records. He also wrote classic blues and pop songs and served as Chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and museum...

 elected to remain in the USA when their mother and sister returned to Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, following the death of their father Munir Ertegun
Münir Ertegün
Mehmet Münir Ertegün was a Turkish legal counsel in international law to the "Sublime Porte" of the late Ottoman Empire and a diplomat of the Turkish Republic during its early years...

, who had been the first Turkish Ambasador to the United States. The brothers had become ardent fans of jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 and rhythm & blues music, amassing a collection of over 15,000 78rpm records. Ahmet ostensibly stayed on in Washington to undertake post-graduate music studies at Georgetown University
Georgetown University
Georgetown University is a private, Jesuit, research university whose main campus is in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States...

 but immersed himself in the Washington music scene and decided to enter the record business, then enjoying a resurgence after wartime restrictions on the shellac
Shellac
Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug, on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. It is processed and sold as dry flakes , which are dissolved in ethyl alcohol to make liquid shellac, which is used as a brush-on colorant, food glaze and wood finish...

 used in manufacture. He convinced the family dentist, Dr Vahdi Sabit, to invest $10,000 and recruited Herb Abramson
Herb Abramson
Herbert C. Abramson was an American record company executive and producer.He was born in 1916 in Brooklyn, New York City and initially studied to be a dentist but he landed a job with National Records producing such performers as The Ravens, Billy Eckstine and Joe Turner...

, a dentistry student, who had worked as a part-time A&R manager/producer for the jazz label National Records
National Records
National Records was a record label that was started in New York by Albert Green in 1945 and lasted till early 1951.Big Joe Turner was signed at the outset and remained until 1947. Billy Eckstine was also a big seller for the label as were The Ravens...

, signing Big Joe Turner
Big Joe Turner
Big Joe Turner was an American blues shouter from Kansas City, Missouri. According to the songwriter Doc Pomus, "Rock and roll would have never happened without him." Although he came to his greatest fame in the 1950s with his pioneering rock and roll recordings, particularly "Shake, Rattle and...

 and Billy Eckstine
Billy Eckstine
William Clarence Eckstine was an American singer of ballads and a bandleader of the swing era. Eckstine's smooth baritone and distinctive vibrato broke down barriers throughout the 1940s, first as leader of the original bop big-band, then as the first romantic black male in popular...

, and then founded Jubilee Records
Jubilee Records
Jubilee Records was a record label specializing in rhythm and blues along with novelty records. It was founded in New York City in 1946 by Herb Abramson. Jerry Blaine became Abramson's partner. Blaine bought out Abramson's half of the company in 1947. The company name was Jay-Gee Recording...

 but had no interest in its most successful artists and now sold his share, investing $2500 in the new label.

Atlantic Records was incorporated in October 1947 and was run by Abramson (the company president) and Ertegun (vice-president in charge of A&R, production and promotion) while Abramson's wife Miriam ran the label's publishing company, Progressive Music, and did most office duties until 1949 when Atlantic hired its first employee, book-keeper Francine Wakschal, who remained with the label for the next 49 years. Miriam quickly gained a reputation for toughness: staff engineer Tom Dowd
Tom Dowd
Tom Dowd was an American recording engineer and producer for Atlantic Records. He was credited with innovating the multi-track recording method. Dowd worked on a virtual "who's who" of recordings that encompassed blues, jazz, pop, rock and soul records.- Early years :Born in Manhattan, Dowd grew...

 later recalled; "Tokyo Rose was the kindest name some people had for her" and Doc Pomus
Doc Pomus
Jerome Solon Felder, better known as Doc Pomus , was a twentieth-century American blues singer and songwriter. He is best known as the lyricist of many rock and roll hits. Pomus was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the category of non-performer in 1992. He was also inducted into...

 described her as "an extraordinarily vitriolic woman". When interviewed in 2009 she attributed her reputation to the company's chronic cash-flow shortage: " ... most of the problems we had with artists were that they wanted advances, and that was very difficult for us ... we were undercapitalized for a long time." The label's original office in the Ritz Hotel
Ritz Hotel
The Ritz London is a luxury 5-star hotel located in Piccadilly and overlooking Green Park in London.- History :Swiss hotelier César Ritz, former manager of the Savoy Hotel, opened the hotel on 24 May 1906...

, Manhattan proved too expensive so they relocated to an $85 per month room in the Hotel Jefferson. In the early fifties Atlantic moved from the Hotel Jefferson to offices at 301 West 54th St and then to its best-known home at 356 West 56th St.

Atlantic's first batch of recordings were issued in late January 1948, and included Tiny Grimes
Tiny Grimes
Lloyd "Tiny" Grimes was an American jazz and R&B guitarist. He was a member of the Art Tatum Trio from 1943 to 1944, was a backing musician on recording sessions, and later led his own bands, including a recording session with Charlie Parker...

' "That Old Black Magic" and "The Spider" by Joe Morris In its early years Atlantic focused principally on modern jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 although it released some country and western
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 and spoken word
Spoken word
Spoken word is a form of poetry that often uses alliterated prose or verse and occasionally uses metered verse to express social commentary. Traditionally it is in the first person, is from the poet’s point of view and is themed in current events....

 recordings. Abramson also produced "Magic Records" which were children's records with four different sets of grooves so each side had four different stories of which the story which got played was determined by where the stylus landed on the groove.

Soon after its formation, Atlantic faced a serious challenge - in late 1947 James Petrillo
James Petrillo
James Caesar Petrillo was the prominent leader of the American Federation of Musicians, a trade union of professional musicians in the United States and Canada.-Biography:Petrillo was born in Chicago, Illinois...

, head of the American Federation of Musicians
American Federation of Musicians
The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada is a labor union of professional musicians in the United States and Canada...

, announced an indefinite ban on all recording activities by union musicians, and this came into force on 1 January 1948. The union action forced Atlantic to use almost all its capital to cut and stockpile enough recordings to last through the ban, which was initially expected to continue for at least a year.

Ertegun and Abramson spent much of the late 1940s and early 1950s scouring nightclubs in search of talent. Ertegun composed many songs under the alias "A. Nugetre", including Big Joe Turner's hit "Chains of Love", working them out in his head and then recording them in 25c recording booths in Times Square
Times Square
Times Square is a major commercial intersection in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets...

 and giving the recording to an arranger or straight to the session musicians. Early releases featured Joe Morris
Joe Morris (trumpeter)
Joe Morris was an American jazz and rhythm and blues trumpeter and bandleader.Born in Montgomery, Alabama, United States, Morris began his career as a jazz trumpeter, working and recording with Earl Bostic, Milt Buckner, Arnett Cobb, Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Griffin, Buddy Rich, Dinah Washington,...

, Frank Culley, Art Pepper
Art Pepper
Art Pepper , born Arthur Edward Pepper, Jr., was an American alto saxophonist and clarinetist.About Pepper, Scott Yanow of All Music stated, "In the 1950s he was one of the few altoists that was able to develop his own sound despite the dominant influence of Charlie Parker" and: "When Art Pepper...

, Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne , born Sheldon Manne in New York City, was an American jazz drummer. Most frequently associated with West Coast jazz, he was known for his versatility and also played in a number of other styles, including Dixieland, swing, bebop, avant-garde jazz and fusion, as well as contributing...

, Pete Rugolo
Pete Rugolo
Pietro "Pete" Rugolo was an Italian-born jazz composer and arranger.-Life and career:Rugolo was born in San Piero Patti, Sicily, Italy. His family emigrated to the United States in 1920 and settled in Santa Rosa, California...

, Tiny Grimes
Tiny Grimes
Lloyd "Tiny" Grimes was an American jazz and R&B guitarist. He was a member of the Art Tatum Trio from 1943 to 1944, was a backing musician on recording sessions, and later led his own bands, including a recording session with Charlie Parker...

, The Delta Rhythm Boys
The Delta Rhythm Boys
The Delta Rhythm Boys were an American vocal group active for over 50 years in the 20th century. The group was first formed at Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma in 1934 by Elmaurice Miller, Traverse Crawford, Essie Joseph Adkins and Otha Lee Gaines...

, The Clovers
The Clovers
-History:The group formed in 1946 at Armstrong High School in Washington, D.C., with members Harold Lucas, Billy Shelton, and Thomas Woods. John "Buddy" Bailey was added soon after, and they began calling themselves the "Four Clovers", with Bailey on lead...

, The Cardinals
The Cardinals
The Cardinals are an American rock band that were formed in 2004 by alternative country singer-songwriter Ryan Adams and fronted by him until 2009. The band was featured on Ryan Adams and the Cardinals albums, Cold Roses, Jacksonville City Nights, Follow the Lights, Cardinology and III/IV...

, Big Joe Turner
Big Joe Turner
Big Joe Turner was an American blues shouter from Kansas City, Missouri. According to the songwriter Doc Pomus, "Rock and roll would have never happened without him." Although he came to his greatest fame in the 1950s with his pioneering rock and roll recordings, particularly "Shake, Rattle and...

, Erroll Garner
Erroll Garner
Erroll Louis Garner was an American jazz pianist and composer known for his swing playing and ballads. His best-known composition, the ballad "Misty", has become a jazz standard...

, Mal Waldron
Mal Waldron
Malcolm Earl Waldron was an American jazz and world music pianist and composer, born in New York City.Like his contemporaries, Waldron's roots lie chiefly in the hard bop and post-bop genres of the New York club scene of the 1950s; but with time, he gravitated more towards free jazz and composition...

, Howard McGhee
Howard McGhee
Howard McGhee was one of the very first bebop jazz trumpeters, together with Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro and Idrees Sulieman. He was known for lightning-fast fingers and very high notes...

, James Moody
James Moody (saxophonist)
James Moody was an American jazz saxophone and flute player. He was best known for his hit "Moody's Mood for Love," an improvisation based on "I'm in the Mood for Love"; in performance, he often improvised vocals for the tune.-Biography:James Moody was born in Savannah, Georgia...

, Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie was an American jazz trumpet player, bandleader, singer, and composer dubbed "the sound of surprise".Together with Charlie Parker, he was a major figure in the development of bebop and modern jazz...

, Jackie & Roy, Sarah Vaughan
Sarah Vaughan
Sarah Lois Vaughan was an American jazz singer, described by Scott Yanow as having "one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century."...

, Leadbelly
Leadbelly
Huddie William Ledbetter was an iconic American folk and blues musician, notable for his strong vocals, his virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the songbook of folk standards he introduced....

, Sonny Terry
Sonny Terry
Saunders Terrell, better known as Sonny Terry was a blind American Piedmont blues musician. He was widely known for his energetic blues harmonica style, which frequently included vocal whoops and hollers, and imitations of trains and fox hunts.-Career:Terry was born in Greensboro, Georgia...

, Professor Longhair
Professor Longhair
Professor Longhair was a New Orleans blues singer and pianist...

, Mabel Mercer
Mabel Mercer
Mabel Mercer was an English-born cabaret singer who performed in the United States, Britain, and Europe with the greats in jazz and cabaret. She was a featured performer at Chez Bricktop in Paris, owned by the hostess Bricktop, and performed in such clubs as Le Ruban Bleu, Tony's, the RSVP, the...

, Sylvia Syms
Sylvia Syms
Sylvia M. L. Syms OBE is a British actress. She is probably best known for her roles in the films Woman in a Dressing Gown , Ice-Cold in Alex , No Trees in the Street , Victim and The Tamarind Seed...

, Billy Taylor
Billy Taylor
Billy Taylor was an American jazz pianist, composer, broadcaster and educator. He was the Robert L. Jones Distinguished Professor of Music at East Carolina University in Greenville, and since 1994, he was the artistic director for jazz at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in...

, Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams was an American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger. Williams wrote hundreds of compositions and arrangements, and recorded more than one hundred records...

, Sidney Bechet
Sidney Bechet
Sidney Bechet was an American jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer.He was one of the first important soloists in jazz , and was perhaps the first notable jazz saxophonist...

, Django Reinhardt
Django Reinhardt
Django Reinhardt was a pioneering virtuoso jazz guitarist and composer who invented an entirely new style of jazz guitar technique that has since become a living musical tradition within French gypsy culture...

, Earl Hines
Earl Hines
Earl Kenneth Hines, universally known as Earl "Fatha" Hines, was an American jazz pianist. Hines was one of the most influential figures in the development of modern jazz piano and, according to one source, is "one of a small number of pianists whose playing shaped the history of jazz".-Early...

, Barney Bigard
Barney Bigard
Albany Leon Bigard, aka Barney Bigard, was an American jazz clarinetist and tenor saxophonist, though primarily known for the clarinet....

, Pee Wee Russell
Pee Wee Russell
Charles Ellsworth Russell, much better known by his nickname Pee Wee Russell, was a jazz musician. Early in his career he played clarinet and saxophones, but eventually focused solely on clarinet....

, Al Hibbler
Al Hibbler
Albert George "Al" Hibbler was an American baritone vocalist, who sang with Duke Ellington's orchestra before having several pop hits as a solo artist. Some of his singing is classified as rhythm and blues, but he is best classified as a bridge between R&B and traditional pop music...

, Meade Lux Lewis
Meade Lux Lewis
Meade Lux Lewis was a American pianist and composer, noted for his work in the boogie-woogie style. His best known work, "Honky Tonk Train Blues", has been recorded in various contexts, often in a big band arrangement...

, Jimmy Yancey
Jimmy Yancey
James Edwards "Jimmy" Yancey was an African American boogie-woogie pianist, composer, and lyricist. One reviewer noted him as "one of the pioneers of this raucous, rapid-fire, eight-to-the-bar piano style"....

, Johnny Hodges
Johnny Hodges
John Cornelius "Johnny" Hodges was an American alto saxophonist, best known for his solo work with Duke Ellington's big band. He played lead alto in the saxophone section for many years, except the period between 1932–1946 when Otto Hardwick generally played first chair...

 and Bobby Short
Bobby Short
Robert Waltrip "Bobby" Short was an American cabaret singer and pianist, best known for his interpretations of songs by popular composers of the first half of the 20th century such as Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke, Noel Coward and George and Ira Gershwin.He...

.

The hits begin

In early 1949 a New Orleans distributor phoned Ertegun trying to obtain Stick McGhee
Stick McGhee
Granville Henry McGhee, also known as Stick McGhee, was an African-American jump blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, best known for his blues song, "Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee".-Early life:...

's "Drinking Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee", which was unavailable due to the closure of McGhee's previous label. Ertegun, who knew Stick's younger brother Brownie McGhee
Brownie McGhee
Walter Brown McGhee was a Piedmont blues singer and guitarist, best known for his collaborations with the harmonica player Sonny Terry.-Life and career:...

 with whom Stick happened to be staying, contacted the McGhee brothers and made a re-recording; when released in February 1949, became Atlantic's first hit, selling 400,000 copies and reaching #3 in the Billboard
Billboard (magazine)
Billboard is a weekly American magazine devoted to the music industry, and is one of the oldest trade magazines in the world. It maintains several internationally recognized music charts that track the most popular songs and albums in various categories on a weekly basis...

R&B chart, though McGhee himself earned just $10 for the session. From this point Atlantic's fortunes rose rapidly: they recorded 187 songs in 1949 (more than three times the output of the previous two years) and received overtures of a manufacturing and distribution deal with CBS Records
Sony Music Entertainment
Sony Music Entertainment ' is the second-largest global recorded music company of the "big four" record companies and is controlled by Sony Corporation of America, the United States subsidiary of Japan's Sony Corporation....

, who would pay Atlantic a 3% royalty on every copy sold. Ertegun asked about artists' royalties, which he paid, which surprised CBS executives, who did not, which scuttled the deal.

On the recommendation of broadcaster Willis Conover
Willis Conover
Willis Clark Conover, Jr. was a jazz producer and broadcaster on the Voice of America for over forty years. He produced jazz concerts at the White House, the Newport Jazz Festival, and for movies and television. By arranging concerts where people of all races were welcome, he is credited with...

, Ertegun and Abramson went to see Ruth Brown
Ruth Brown
Ruth Brown was an American pop and R&B singer-songwriter, record producer, composer and actress, noted for bringing a pop music style to R&B music in a series of hit songs for Atlantic Records in the 1950s, such as "So Long", "Teardrops from My Eyes" and " He Treats Your Daughter Mean".For these...

 at the Crystal Caverns club in Washington and invited her to audition for Atlantic. She was badly injured in a car accident en route to New York but Atlantic supported her for nine months and then signed her. Her first release for the label "So Long", cut at her second Atlantic session on 25 May 1949 with the Eddie Condon
Eddie Condon
Albert Edwin Condon , better known as Eddie Condon, was a jazz banjoist, guitarist, and bandleader. A leading figure in the so-called "Chicago school" of early Dixieland, he also played piano and sang on occasion....

 band, was a major hit, reaching #6 on the R&B chart. Brown went on to record more than eighty songs for the label, becoming the most prolific and best-selling Atlantic artist of the period. So significant was Brown's success to Atlantic's fortunes that the label became known colloquially as "The House That Ruth Built".

Joe Morris
Joe Morris (trumpeter)
Joe Morris was an American jazz and rhythm and blues trumpeter and bandleader.Born in Montgomery, Alabama, United States, Morris began his career as a jazz trumpeter, working and recording with Earl Bostic, Milt Buckner, Arnett Cobb, Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Griffin, Buddy Rich, Dinah Washington,...

, one of the label's earliest signings, scored a major hit with his October 1950 release "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere", the first Atlantic record issued in 45rpm format, which the company began pressing in January 1951. The Clovers
The Clovers
-History:The group formed in 1946 at Armstrong High School in Washington, D.C., with members Harold Lucas, Billy Shelton, and Thomas Woods. John "Buddy" Bailey was added soon after, and they began calling themselves the "Four Clovers", with Bailey on lead...

' "Don't You Know I Love You" (composed by Ertegun) became the label's first R&B #1 in September 1951 and a few weeks later Ruth Brown's "Teardrops from my Eyes" became its first million-selling record. She hit #1 again in March–April 1952 with "5-10-15 Hours
5-10-15 Hours
"5-10-15 Hours" is a rhythm and blues song written by Rudy Toombs in 1952 for Ruth Brown and became another Rudy Toombs' number-one R&B hit for Brown. The song, smooth, sophisticated blues shouting at its best, has a touch of suppliance more characteristic of the vocal qualities of popular...

". "Daddy Daddy" reached #3 in September 1952, and "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean" (which featured the MJQ's Connie Kay
Connie Kay
Connie Kay was an American jazz drummer.Kay was a member of the Modern Jazz Quartet from 1955 until the group's dissolution in 1974...

 on drums) reached #1 in February–March 1953, becoming a solid seller for years afterwards, as did the late 1954 "Oh What A Dream", her last hit with Atlantic. She left the label in 1961 and her fortunes declined rapidly - within a few years was reduced to working as a cleaner and bus-driver to support her children. In the 1980s she sued her former label for unpaid royalties; although Atlantic, which had prided itself on treating artists fairly, had stopped paying royalties to some artists, Ahmet Ertegun denied this was intentional. Brown eventually received a voluntary payment of $20,000 and founded a charity, the Rhythm and Blues Foundation
Rhythm and Blues Foundation
The Rhythm and Blues Foundation is an independent American nonprofit organization dedicated to the historical and cultural preservation of rhythm and blues music....

, in 1988, established with a donation of $1.5 million from Ertegun.

In 1952 Atlantic signed Ray Charles
Ray Charles
Ray Charles Robinson , known by his shortened stage name Ray Charles, was an American musician. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records...

, who scored a string of hugely influential hits including "I Got A Woman
I Got a Woman
"I Got a Woman" is a song co-written and recorded by American R&B/soul musician Ray Charles and released as a single in December 1954 on the Atlantic label as Atlantic 45-1050 b/w "Come Back Baby." Both sides later appeared on his 1957 album Ray Charles .-Origin:The song builds on...

", "What'd I Say
What'd I Say
According to Charles' autobiography, "What'd I Say" was accidental when he improvised it to fill time at the end of a concert in December 1958. He asserts that he never tested songs on audiences before recording them, but "What'd I Say" is an exception...

" and "Hallelujah I Love Her So
Hallelujah I Love Her So
"Hallelujah I Love Her So" is a rhythm and blues single written by and released by American singer Ray Charles in 1956 on the Atlantic label.The song peaked at number five on the Billboard R&B chart and much like "I Got a Woman" and "This Little Girl of Mine" before it was a song based on a gospel...

". Later that year The Clovers' "One Mint Julep
One Mint Julep
"One Mint Julep" is a rhythm and blues song written by Rudy Toombs that became a hit for The Clovers. It was recorded by Atlantic Records in New York City on December 19, 1951 and released in March of 1952. It was one of the first "drinking songs" to become a hit and one of the first to feature a...

" reached #2. In 1953, after learning that singer Clyde McPhatter
Clyde McPhatter
Clyde McPhatter was an American R&B singer, perhaps the most widely imitated R&B singer of the 1950s and 1960s, making him a key figure in the shaping of doo-wop and R&B. He is best known for his solo hit "A Lover's Question"...

 had been fired from Billy Ward and His Dominoes and was forming his own group (The Drifters
The Drifters
The Drifters are a long-lived American doo-wop and R&B/soul vocal group with a peak in popularity from 1953 to 1963, though several splinter Drifters continue to perform today. They were originally formed to serve as Clyde McPhatter's backing group in 1953...

), Ahmet Ertegun tracked McPhetter down and signed the new group immediately. Their single "Money Honey" became the biggest R&B hit of the year. Their subsequent records created some controversy: the suggestive "Such A Night
Such a Night
"Such a Night" is a popular song from 1953, written by Lincoln Chase and first recorded by The Drifters.The Drifters' original version, featuring Clyde McPhatter, was recorded in November 1953 and released in January 1954...

" was banned by radio station WXYZ in Detroit and the follow-up "Honey Love" was banned in Memphis though both records reached #1 on the Billboard R&B chart.

Although not a major success in chart terms, female vocal trio The Cookies
The Cookies
The Cookies were an American R&B girl group in the 1950s to 1960s. Members of the original lineup would later become The Raelettes, the backing vocalists for Ray Charles.-History:...

 became an important part of the Atlantic 'family'. The original group, put together by Atlantic producer Jesse Stone
Jesse Stone
Jesse Stone was an American rhythm and blues musician and songwriter whose influence spanned a wide range of genres...

 in 1954, comprised Darlene (Ethel) McCrea, Dorothy Jones and Dorothy's cousin Beulah Robertson, who was replaced in 1956 by Marjorie "Margie" Hendricks. They recorded "In Paradise", a minor R&B hit in early 1956, but after another unsuccessful release the trio became the regular backing singers for Atlantic recording sessions. They performed on many hits in this period including Joe Turner's "Corinna, Corinna" and "Lipstick, Powder and Paint", Chuck Willis
Chuck Willis
Harold "Chuck" Willis was an American blues, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll singer and songwriter. His biggest hits, "C. C. Rider" and "What Am I Living For" , both reached no. 1 in the Billboard R&B chart...

' "It's Too Late (She's Gone)", and Ray Charles' "Lonely Avenue
Lonely Avenue
"Lonely Avenue" is a popular song written by Doc Pomus that became a rhythm and blues hit for Ray Charles in 1956. The song drew the attention of the music business to Doc Pomus, who had previously had little success as a songwriter.-Covers:...

", "Drown In My Own Tears" and "Night Time is the Right Time" (which features Margie Hendricks prominently), before being taken on by Ray Charles and renamed The Raelettes.

Tom Dowd

Recording engineer and producer Tom Dowd
Tom Dowd
Tom Dowd was an American recording engineer and producer for Atlantic Records. He was credited with innovating the multi-track recording method. Dowd worked on a virtual "who's who" of recordings that encompassed blues, jazz, pop, rock and soul records.- Early years :Born in Manhattan, Dowd grew...

 played a crucial role in Atlantic's success. He initially worked for Atlantic on a freelance basis, but within a few years he had been hired as the label's full-time staff engineer. His recordings for Atlantic and Stax exerted a major influence on the history of popular music and he scored more hits than George Martin
George Martin
Sir George Henry Martin CBE is an English record producer, arranger, composer and musician. He is sometimes referred to as "the Fifth Beatle"— a title that he often describes as "nonsense," but the fact remains that he served as producer on all but one of The Beatles' original albums...

 and Phil Spector
Phil Spector
Phillip Harvey "Phil" Spector is an American record producer and songwriter, later known for his conviction in the murder of actress Lana Clarkson....

 combined. As Atlantic's studio engineer Tom Dowd oversaw many advances in production.

Atlantic was one of the first independent labels to make recordings in stereo: Dowd used a portable stereo recorder which ran simultaneously with the studio's existing mono recorder. In 1953 (according to Billboard) Atantic was the first label to issue commercial LPs recorded in the early, experimental stereo system called binaural recording
Binaural recording
Binaural recording is a method of recording sound that uses two microphones, arranged with the intent to create a 3-D stereo sound sensation for the listener of actually being in the room with the performers or instruments. This effect is often created using a technique known as "Dummy head...

. In this system, recordings were made using two microphones, spaced at approximately the distance between the human ears, and the left and right channels were cut as two separate, parallel grooves, although playing them back required a player with a special tone-arm fitted with dual needles; it was not until around 1958 that the single stylus microgroove system (in which the two stereo channels were cut into either side of a single groove) became the industry standard. By the late 1950s stereo LPs and record players were being introduced into the marketplace. Atlantic's early stereo recordings included "Lover's Question" by Clyde McPhatter, "What Am I Living For" by Chuck Willis, "I Cried a Tear" by LaVern Baker, "Splish Splash" by Bobby Darin, "Yakety Yak" by the Coasters and "What'd I Say" by Ray Charles. Although these were primarily 45rpm mono singles for much of the 1950s Dowd stockpiled his "parallel" stereo takes for future release. In 1968 the label issued History of Rhythm and Blues, Volume 4 (Atlantic SD-8164) in stereo and the stereo versions of Ray Charles "What'd I Say" and "Night Time is the Right Time" were also included on the Atlantic anthology The Birth Of Soul: The Complete Atlantic Rhythm & Blues Recordings, 1952-1959.

Atlantic's New York studio was also the first in America to install multitrack recording
Multitrack recording
Multitrack recording is a method of sound recording that allows for the separate recording of multiple sound sources to create a cohesive whole...

 machines, developed by the Ampex
Ampex
Ampex is an American electronics company founded in 1944 by Alexander M. Poniatoff. The name AMPEX is an acronym, created by its founder, which stands for Alexander M. Poniatoff Excellence...

 company. Bobby Darin's "Splish, Splash" was the first song to be recorded on 8-track recorder whereas it was not until the mid-1960s that multitrackers became the norm in recording studios and EMI's Abbey Road Studios
Abbey Road Studios
Abbey Road Studios is a recording studio located at 3 Abbey Road, St John's Wood, City of Westminster, London, England. It was established in November 1931 by the Gramophone Company, a predecessor of British music company EMI, its present owner...

 did not install 8-track facilities until 1968.

The label entered the new LP market very early: its first was a 10" album of poetry by Walter Benton
Walter Benton (poet)
Walter Benton was an American poet and writer. Benton was born to Russian immigrant parents living in Austria. The family left Europe in 1913 to relocate to the the United States during World War I. During the Great Depression, Benton worked various odd jobs enabling him to attend Ohio...

, This Is My Beloved (March 1949), narrated by John Dall
John Dall
John Dall was an American actor.Primarily a stage actor, he is best remembered today for two film roles; the cool-minded intellectual killer in Alfred Hitchcock's film Rope, and the trigger-happy lead in the 1950 noir Gun Crazy.He first came to fame as the young prodigy who comes alive under the...

, with music by Vernon Duke
Vernon Duke
Vernon Duke was a Russian-American composer/songwriter, who also wrote under his original name Vladimir Dukelsky. He is best known for "Taking a Chance on Love" with lyrics by Ted Fetter and John Latouche, "I Can't Get Started" with lyrics by Ira Gershwin, "April in Paris" with lyrics by E. Y...

 In 1951, Atlantic was one of the first independents to press records in the new 45rpm single format, and by 1956 the "45" had overtaken the "78" as the main sales format for singles. In April that year, Miriam (Abramson) Bienstock reported to Billboard that Atlantic was now selling 75% of its singles as 45s whereas only one year earlier 78s had been outselling 45s by two to one.

Jerry Wexler

Herb Abramson was drafted into the US Army in February 1953 and left for Germany where he served in the US Army Dental Corps, although he retained his post as President of Atlantic on full pay. Ertegun recruited Billboard reporter Jerry Wexler
Jerry Wexler
Gerald "Jerry" Wexler was a music journalist turned music producer, and was regarded as one of the major record industry players behind music from the 1950s through the 1980s...

 in June 1953: who is credited with coining the term "rhythm & blues" to replace the earlier "race music". He was appointed vice-president and purchased 13% of the company's stock for $2,063.25. Wexler and Ertegun soon formed a close partnership which, in collaboration with Tom Dowd, produced thirty R&B hits.

Ertegun and Wexler realised many R&B recordings by black artists were being covered by white performers, often with greater chart success: Atlantic's LaVern Baker
LaVern Baker
LaVern Baker was an American rhythm and blues singer, who had several hit records on the pop chart in the 1950s and early 1960s. Her most successful records were "Tweedlee Dee" , "Jim Dandy" , and "I Cried a Tear" .-Early life:She was born Delores LaVern Baker in Chicago, Illinois...

 had a #4 R&B hit with "Tweedlee Dee" but a rival version by Georgia Gibbs
Georgia Gibbs
Georgia Gibbs was an American popular singer and vocal entertainer rooted in jazz. Already singing publicly in her early teens, Gibbs first achieved acclaim in the mid-1950s interpreting songs originating with the black rhythm and blues community and later as a featured vocalist on a long list of...

 went to #2 on the pop charts, Big Joe Turner's April 1954 release "Shake, Rattle and Roll
Shake, Rattle and Roll
"Shake, Rattle and Roll" is a prototypical twelve bar blues-form rock and roll song, written in 1954 by Jesse Stone under his assumed songwriting name Charles E. Calhoun. It was originally recorded by Big Joe Turner, and most successfully by Bill Haley & His Comets...

" was a #1 R&B hit but only made #22 on the pop chart while Bill Haley & His Comets
Bill Haley & His Comets
Bill Haley & His Comets was an American rock and roll band that was founded in 1952 and continued until Haley's death in 1981. The band, also known by the names Bill Haley and The Comets and Bill Haley's Comets , was the earliest group of white musicians to bring rock and roll to the attention of...

's version reached #7, sold over 1 million copies and was Decca Records' biggest-selling song of the year. In July 1954, as rock'n'roll gathered momentum, Wexler and Ertegun wrote a prescient article for Cash Box, headlined "The Latest Trend: R&B Disks Are Going Pop", devoted to what they called "cat music"; the same month, Atlantic scored its first major "crossover" hit on the Billboard pop chart when the "Sh-Boom
Sh-Boom
"Sh-Boom" is an early doo-wop song. It was written by James Keyes, Claude Feaster, Carl Feaster, Floyd F. McRae, and James Edwards, members of the R&B vocal group The Chords and published in 1954. It was a U.S...

" by The Clovers reached #5 (although The Crew-Cuts
The Crew-Cuts
The Crew-Cuts were a Canadian vocal quartet, that made a number of popular records that charted in the United States and worldwide. They named themselves after the then popular crew cut haircut, one of the first connections made between pop music and hairstyle...

' version went to #1). Atlantic missed an important signing in 1955 when Sun Records
Sun Records
Sun Records is a record label founded in Memphis, Tennessee, starting operations on March 27, 1952.Founded by Sam Phillips, Sun Records was known for giving notable musicians such as Elvis Presley , Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash...

' owner Sam Phillips
Sam Phillips
Samuel Cornelius Phillips , better known as Sam Phillips, was an American businessman, record executive, record producer and DJ who played an important role in the emergence of rock and roll as the major form of popular music in the 1950s...

 sold Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King"....

's recording contract in a bidding war between labels. Atlantic offered $25,000 which, Ertegun later noted, "was all the money we had then." but they were outbid by RCA Records
RCA Records
RCA Records is one of the flagship labels of Sony Music Entertainment. The RCA initials stand for Radio Corporation of America , which was the parent corporation from 1929 to 1985 and a partner from 1985 to 1986.RCA's Canadian unit is Sony's oldest label...

's offer of $45,000. In 1990 Ertegun remarked:
"The president of RCA at the time had been extensively quoted in Variety
Variety (magazine)
Variety is an American weekly entertainment-trade magazine founded in New York City, New York, in 1905 by Sime Silverman. With the rise of the importance of the motion-picture industry, Daily Variety, a daily edition based in Los Angeles, California, was founded by Silverman in 1933. In 1998, the...

damning R&B music as immoral. He soon stopped when RCA signed Elvis Presley."

Nesuhi Ertegun

Ahmet's older brother Nesuhi
Nesuhi Ertegun
Nesuhi Ertegun was a Turkish record producer and executive of Atlantic Records and WEA International.-Background:Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Nesuhi and his family, including younger brother Ahmet, moved to Washington, D.C...

 was recruited to the label in January 1955. He had been living in Los Angeles for several years and had only irregular contact with his younger brother, but when Ahmet learned that Nesuhi had been offered a partnership in Atlantic's rival Imperial Records
Imperial Records
Imperial Records is a United States based label started in 1947 by Lew Chudd and reactivated in 2006 by label owner EMI.- The independent and Liberty Records years :...

, he and Wexler convinced Nesuhi to join Atlantic instead. Nesuhi headed the label's jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 division and built a strong roster, signing West Coast jazzers Shorty Rogers
Shorty Rogers
Milton “Shorty” Rogers , born Milton Rajonsky in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, was one of the principal creators of West Coast jazz. He played both the trumpet and flugelhorn, and was in demand for his skills as an arranger. Rogers worked first as a professional musician with Will Bradley and...

, Jimmy Giuffre
Jimmy Giuffre
James Peter Giuffre was an American jazz clarinet and saxophone player, composer and arranger. He is notable for his development of forms of jazz which allowed for free interplay between the musicians, anticipating forms of free improvisation.-Biography:Born in Dallas, Texas, of Italian ancestry,...

, Herbie Mann
Herbie Mann
Herbert Jay Solomon , better known as Herbie Mann, was a Jewish American jazz flutist and important early practitioner of world music...

 and Les McCann
Les McCann
Les McCann is an American soul jazz piano player and vocalist whose biggest successes came as a crossover artist into R&B and soul.-Biography:...

, as well as Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus Jr. was an American jazz musician, composer, bandleader, and civil rights activist.Mingus's compositions retained the hot and soulful feel of hard bop and drew heavily from black gospel music while sometimes drawing on elements of Third stream, free jazz, and classical music...

, John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John William Coltrane was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes in jazz and later was at the forefront of free jazz...

 and the Modern Jazz Quartet
Modern Jazz Quartet
The Modern Jazz Quartet was established in 1952 by Milt Jackson , John Lewis , Percy Heath , and Kenny Clarke . Connie Kay replaced Clarke in 1955...

, who became a mainstay of the label, releasing twenty albums; by 1958 Atlantic was America's second-largest independent jazz label. Nesuhi was also also in charge of LP album production, a market that was beginning to take off, and he was credited with greatly improving the packaging, production and originality of Atlantic's LP line. He soon deleted the old '100' and '400' series of 10" albums and the earlier 12" albums in Atlantic's catalog, launching the new '1200' series, which sold for $4.98, with Shorty Rogers
Shorty Rogers
Milton “Shorty” Rogers , born Milton Rajonsky in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, was one of the principal creators of West Coast jazz. He played both the trumpet and flugelhorn, and was in demand for his skills as an arranger. Rogers worked first as a professional musician with Will Bradley and...

' The Swingin' Mr Rogers (Atlantic 1212). In 1956 he started the '8000' popular series (selling for $3.98) for the label's few R&B albums, reserving the 1200 series for jazz. Joel Dorn
Joel Dorn
Joel Dorn was an American jazz and R&B music producer and record label entrepreneur. He worked at Atlantic Records, and later founded the 32 Jazz, Label M, and Hyena Records labels...

 became Nesuhi's assistant following his successful production of Hubert Laws
Hubert Laws
Hubert Laws is an American flutist and saxophonist with a 40+ year career in jazz, classical, and other music genres. Alongside Herbie Mann, Laws is probably the most recognized and respected jazz flutist...

' The Laws of Jazz.

Herb Abramson departs

Herb Abramson's return from military service in 1955 created problems: Ertegun and Wexler had scored a run of hits, including Big Joe Turner's "Flip Flop and Fly" and Ray Charles' "I Got A Woman
I Got a Woman
"I Got a Woman" is a song co-written and recorded by American R&B/soul musician Ray Charles and released as a single in December 1954 on the Atlantic label as Atlantic 45-1050 b/w "Come Back Baby." Both sides later appeared on his 1957 album Ray Charles .-Origin:The song builds on...

", and when Abramson returned, he realised that that he had been effectively replaced by Wexler as Ahmet's partner. There were also personal conflicts: Abramson did not get on well with either Wexler or Nesuhi Ertegun, and he had returned from his military service with a German girlfriend, which precipitated his divorce from Miriam, a minor stockholder and Atlantic's business and publishing manager.

By 1958 relations between Abramson and his partners had broken down completely, so in December 1958 a $300,000 buy-out was arranged; his stock was split between Nesuhi Ertegun and Abramson's ex-wife Miriam, who had in the meantime re-married to music publisher Freddy Bienstock
Freddy Bienstock
Freddy Bienstock was an American music publisher who built his career in music by being the person responsible for soliciting and selecting songs for Elvis Presley's early albums and films.-Early life:...

 (later the owner of the Carlin Music / Chappell Music publishing empire). Abramson's departure opened the way for Ahmet Ertegun to take over as president of the label.

Expansion

Atlantic played a major role in popularising the new genre that Jerry Wexler dubbed rhythm & blues and it profited handsomely from this. The market for these records exploded during late 1953 and early 1954, as more and more R&B hits crossed over to the mainstream (i.e. white) audience. In its tenth anniversary feature on Atlantic, Billboard noted that previously, "... a very big r&b record might achieve 250,000 sales, but from this point on (1953-54), the industry began to see million sellers, one after the other, in the r&b field". It observed that the label's "fresh sound" and the quality of its recordings, arrangements and musicians was a great advance on what was the standard for R&B records at the time, and that for the past five years Atlantic had "dominated the rhythm and blues chart with its roster of powerhouse artists".

From 1954 onwards Atlantic created or acquired several important subsidiary labels, the first being the short-lived but significant Cat Records
Cat Records
Cat Records was a short-lived subsidiary of Atlantic Records, specializing in rhythm and blues music.It was founded in 1954 and issued 18 singles, issued on both 78 r.p.m. and 45 r.p.m. records, over nearly two years before the label was discontinued. Its biggest hit was "Sh-Boom" by The Chords....

. By the mid-1950s Atlantic had an informal agreement with Eddie Barclay
Eddie Barclay
Eddie Barclay was a French music producer whose singers included Jacques Brel and Charles Aznavour. He founded Barclay Records.-Life:...

's French label Barclay Records
Barclay Records
Barclay Records is a French record label founded in the mid-1950s by Eddie Barclay under the alias, Edouard Ruault. Eddie Barclay also founded the Riviera label in the early-1950s....

 and the two companies regularly exchanged titles, usually jazz recordings. Atlanticalso began to get recordings distributed in the United Kingdom; initially this was done through EMI
EMI
The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

 on a 'one-off' basis, but in September 1955 Miriam Abramson went to the UK and signed a formal distribution deal with Decca Records
Decca Records
Decca Records began as a British record label established in 1929 by Edward Lewis. Its U.S. label was established in late 1934; however, owing to World War II, the link with the British company was broken for several decades....

, who were soon releasing every new Atlantic title. Miriam later recalled:
"I was the one who came to England at the beginning to negotiate all those deals (in the fall of 1955). I would deal with people there who were not really comfortable with women in business, so ... we would do business very quickly and get it over with. But they were charming. Sir Edward Lewis
Edward Lewis (Decca)
Sir Edward Roberts Lewis was an English businessman, best known for leading the Decca recording and technology group for five decades from 1929. He built the company up from nothing to one of the major record labels of the world.A financier by profession, Lewis was professionally engaged by the...

 was wonderful, we became great friends. We kept in touch after I left Atlantic."


A new subsidiary label, Atco Records
Atco Records
ATCO Records is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group, currently operating through WMG's Rhino Entertainment.-Beginnings:Atco Records was founded in 1955 as a division of Atlantic Records. It was devised as an outlet for productions by one of Atlantic's founders, Herb Abramson, who...

, was established in 1955 as an effort to keep Abramson involved. East West
East West Records
East West Records is an American record label, owned by Warner Music Group, and operates under WMG's Independent Label Group.-History:...

 was founded in September 1957; it initially concentrated on singles and featured an "across the board" roster of pop, rock & roll, rhythm & blues and rockabilly artists and its first releases were by Jay Holliday, Johnny Houston and The Glowtones. After a slow start, Atco had considerable success with The Coasters
The Coasters
The Coasters are an American rhythm and blues/rock and roll vocal group that had a string of hits in the late 1950s. Beginning with "Searchin'" and "Young Blood", their most memorable songs were written by the songwriting and producing team of Leiber and Stoller...

 and Bobby Darin
Bobby Darin
Bobby Darin , born Walden Robert Cassotto, was an American singer, actor and musician.Darin performed in a range of music genres, including pop, rock, jazz, folk and country...

. Darin's early releases had not been successful and Abramson planned to drop him, but Ertegun offered him another chance, and the session he produced yielded "Splish Splash
Splish Splash (song)
"Splish Splash" is a 1958 song performed and co-written by Bobby Darin. It was written with DJ Murray the K , who bet that Darin couldn't write a song that began with the words, "Splish Splash, I was takin' a bath", as suggested by Murray's mother, Jean Kaufman. The song was credited to Darin and...

", which Darin had written in 12 minutes and which sold 100,000 copies in the first month and became a million-seller. During 1958-59 Darin's "Queen of the Hop" made the Top 10 on both the US pop and R&B charts and also charted in the UK, "Dream Lover
Dream Lover
"Dream Lover" is a song written and recorded by Bobby Darin on March 5, 1959. It was produced by Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler and engineered by Tom Dowd. It is considered a soulful rock song. The song became a multi-million seller, reaching #2 in US charts and was #1 in UK for three weeks during...

", a multi-million seller, reached #2 in the USA and became a UK #1, and "Mack the Knife
Mack the Knife
"Mack the Knife" or "The Ballad of Mack the Knife", originally "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer", is a song composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht for their music drama Die Dreigroschenoper, or, as it is known in English, The Threepenny Opera. It premiered in Berlin in 1928 at the...

" (August 1959) went to #1 in both the US and the UK, sold over 2 million copies and won the 1960 Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

 for 'Record of the Year'. "Beyond the Sea
Beyond the Sea (song)
"Beyond the Sea" is a 1946 contemporary pop song with music taken from the song "La Mer" by Charles Trenet and lyrics by Jack Lawrence.Trenet had composed "La Mer" with French lyrics totally different and unrelated to the English language version that Lawrence composed...

", an English-language version of the Charles Trenet
Charles Trenet
Charles Trenet was a French singer and songwriter, most famous for his recordings from the late 1930s until the mid-1950s, though his career continued through the 1990s...

 hit "La Mer
La Mer (song)
Trenet wrote the lyrics of "La Mer" on a train in 1943 while travelling along the French Mediterranean coast, returning from Paris to Narbonne. He supposedly wrote the song in ten minutes, on toilet paper supplied by SNCF. He was assisted with the tune by Leo Chauliac. It was originally published...

", became his fourth consecutive US/UK Top 10 hit. Darin later signed with Capitol Records
Capitol Records
Capitol Records is a major United States based record label, formerly located in Los Angeles, but operating in New York City as part of Capitol Music Group. Its former headquarters building, the Capitol Tower, is a major landmark near the corner of Hollywood and Vine...

 and left for Hollywood to begin a movie career although Atco continued to score hits into 1962 with tracks already in the can, including "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby
You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby
"You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" is a popular song with music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Johnny Mercer, published in 1938. It was featured in the movie Hard to Get, released November 1938, where it was sung by Dick Powell....

" and "Things". Darin returned to Atlantic in 1965.

By 1958 the label had expanded considerably - in 1956 Atlantic's head office moved to 157 West 57th St, while retaining two floors in the earlier premises at 234 West 56th St. New staff hired between 1956 and 1958 included Gary Kramer (director of publicity and advertising), Lester Lees (national sales manager), Victor Selsman (DJ promotions), Lester Sill
Lester Sill
Lester Sill was an American record label executive, best remembered as Phil Spector's partner in Philles Records , and also as the head of both Colpix Records and the later Colgems Records...

 (West Coast promotions) and Bob Bushnell (recording engineer).

During the 1960s Atlantic distributed selected titles recorded by many small regional independent labels including Dial
Dial Records (1964)
A second Dial Records label was a New Orleans soul label formed by Nashville-based song publisher/plugger/producer Buddy Killen in 1964.This label was formed specifically so Killen could record perhaps his best-known discovery, soul singer Joe Tex...

 (Joe Tex
Joe Tex
Joseph Arrington, Jr. , better known as "Joe Tex", was an American Southern soul singer-songwriter, most popular during the 1960s and 1970s...

), Karen (The Capitols
The Capitols
The Capitols were a Detroit, Michigan-based soul trio widely known in the late 1960s for their Billboard hit single "Cool Jerk".-Formation and Disbandment:...

' "Cool Jerk
Cool Jerk
"Cool Jerk" is a popular song written by Donald Storball and originally performed by The Capitols. Released in 1966, it reached the number two position on the American R&B chart and number seven on the pop chart...

"), Rosemart (Don Covay
Don Covay
Don Covay is an American R&B/rock and roll/soul music singer and songwriter most active in the 1950s and 1960s, who received a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1994...

's "Mercy, Mercy
Mercy, Mercy
Mercy, Mercy is a 1968 live album by Buddy Rich and his big band, recorded at Caesars Palace. - Track listing :LP side A# "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" – 5:34# "Preach and Teach" – 4:06# "Channel One Suite" – 12:50...

"), Nola (Willie Tee
Willie Tee
Willie Tee was an American keyboardist, songwriter, singer, producer and notable early architect of New Orleans funk and soul, who helped shape the sound of New Orleans for more than four decades.-Biography:...

's "Teasin' You"), Vault, Class, Shirley, Tomorrow, Instant
Instant Records
Instant Records was a record label based in New Orleans, Louisiana which was founded in 1961 by Joe Banashak and Irving Smith. It was originally called Valiant Records until another Valiant Records threatened to sue and forced the label's renaming to Instant Records. The most successful artist on...

, Dade ("Mashed Potatoes" by Nat Kendrick & The Swans), Moonglow
Moonglow Records
Moonglow Records was a small record label in the sixties. They were famous for signing The Righteous Brothers before they were signed by Phil Spector for his Philles Records. The label was initially independently distributed, but they became an Atlantic distributed label very early on.The Moonglow...

, Correct-Tone Records, Lu-Pine, Keetch, Royo, T-Neck
T-Neck Records
T-Neck Records was a record label founded by The Isley Brothers in 1964.It's notable for having the Isleys becoming the first R&B band to form a record label, a rarity in black music. During the label's early years, the Isleys issued the records "Testify" and "Move Over And Let Me Dance", which...

, Heidi, Sims
Sims Records
Sims Records was a country music record label in the 1950s and 1960s.Russell Sims had been associated with Country music in the late 40s and early 50s and became a sort of touring manager for T.Texas Tyler who was a Four Star Records artist...

 and others, using those labels' imprints and separate catalog numbers.

Lieber, Stoller and Spector

In October 1955 Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller scored a West Coast hit with Los Angeles-based vocal group The Robins, who released version of the Leiber-Stoller song "Smokey Joe's Cafe
Smokey Joe's Cafe
Smokey Joe's Cafe is a musical revue showcasing 39 pop standards, including rock and roll, rhythm and blues songs written by songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller...

" on the duo's own Spark Records
Spark Records
Spark Records was a record label started by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller c. 1954. Artists released on Spark Records included Willy & Ruth, The Sly Fox and The Robins....

 label. Seeking a national outlet, they leased the master to Atco and in November Atlantic purchased Spark and its catalog; Leiber and Stoller moved back to New York and signed a landmark deal with Atlantic that made them America's first independent record producers. In 1956 two members of The Robins, Carl Gardner
Carl Gardner
Carl Edward Gardner was an American singer, best known as the foremost member and founder of The Coasters. Known for the 1958 song "Yakety Yak", which spent a week as number one on the Hot 100 pop list, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.- Life and career :Gardner was born...

 and Bobby Nunn
Bobby Nunn
Ulysses B. "Bobby" Nunn was an American singer with the musical groups The Robins and The Coasters. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S., and died of heart failure in Los Angeles, California, U.S.-Biography:...

, formed The Coasters
The Coasters
The Coasters are an American rhythm and blues/rock and roll vocal group that had a string of hits in the late 1950s. Beginning with "Searchin'" and "Young Blood", their most memorable songs were written by the songwriting and producing team of Leiber and Stoller...

 who finally provided Atlantic with the crossover success it had been striving for. Their first (March 1956) Atco release (recorded in Hollywood) was "Down in Mexico", a Top 10 R&B hit: the double-sided "Young Blood
Young Blood
"Young Blood" is a song written by the songwriting team Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, together with Doc Pomus, in 1957.The song was included in the musical revue Smokey Joe's Cafe.-Structure:...

"/"Searchin'
Searchin'
"Searchin" is a song written by Leiber and Stoller specifically for The Coasters. It was released as a single on Atco Records in March 1957, and topped the Rhythm and Blues Chart for twelve weeks...

" (also recorded in Hollywood) followed, with both sides entering the pop Top 10 after radio exposure and both charting for over 20 weeks - "Young Blood" reached #3 and "Young Blood" #8. Relocating to New York, The Coasters' then cut "Yakety Yak
Yakety Yak
"Yakety Yak" is a song written, produced, and arranged by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller for The Coasters and released on Atlantic Records in 1958, spending seven weeks as number one on the R&B charts and a week as number one on the Hot 100 pop list...

" (June 1958), featuring the saxophone of King Curtis
King Curtis
Curtis Ousley , who performed under the stage name King Curtis, was an American saxophone virtuoso known for rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul, funk and soul jazz. Variously a bandleader, band member, and session musician, he was also a musical director and record producer...

, and this became Atlantic's first pop #1; "Charlie Brown
Charlie Brown
Charles "Charlie" Brown is the protagonist in the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz.Charlie Brown and his creator have a common connection in that they are both the sons of barbers, but whereas Schulz's work is described as the "most shining example of the American success story", Charlie...

" made #2 on both the pop and R&B charts in February 1959, "Along Came Jones
Along Came Jones (song)
"Along Came Jones" is a comedic song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and originally recorded by The Coasters, but covered by many other groups and individuals.-The song:...

" also reached the pop Top 10 as did "Poison Ivy
Poison Ivy
Poison Ivy is a fictional character, a DC Comics supervillainess who is primarily an enemy of Batman. Created by Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff, she first appeared in Batman #181 ....

" (#7, Aug. 1959). "Shopping for Clothes" (1960) was their only single that failed to make the pop chart. "Little Egypt" (1961) was their last hit, reaching #21 in the pop chart.

Lieber and Stoller also wrote and produced the classic "Ruby Baby
Ruby Baby
"Ruby Baby" is a song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. It was originally recorded by The Drifters and was a major R&B hit for them in 1956...

" for The Drifters
The Drifters
The Drifters are a long-lived American doo-wop and R&B/soul vocal group with a peak in popularity from 1953 to 1963, though several splinter Drifters continue to perform today. They were originally formed to serve as Clyde McPhatter's backing group in 1953...

, a 1956 #13 R&B hit that featured Johnny Moore
Johnny Moore (musician)
Johnny Moore was an American rhythm and blues singer with The Drifters.Born John Alfred Moore in Selma, Alabama, United States, he began as lead of the Cleveland based group, The Hornets, before being discovered by The Drifters. He joined the group as lead vocalist, in New York in 1955, at age 21...

 as lead vocalist (replacing Clyde McPhatter, who had been drafted); it became a pop standard and reached #2 in 1962 when re-recorded by Dion
Dion DiMucci
Dion Francis DiMucci , better known as Dion, is an American singer-songwriter whose work has incorporated elements of doo-wop, pop oldies music, rock and R&B styles....

. By 1958 The Drifters had undergone many lineup changes and their former popularity was waning. That May, after one of the members got into a fight with the manager of the Apollo Theater
Apollo Theater
The Apollo Theater in New York City is one of the most famous, and older, music halls in the United States, and the most famous club associated almost exclusively with Black performers...

, group manager George Treadwell sacked the entire lineup and recruited the members of The Five Crowns to become the 'new' Drifters. Lieber and Stoller produced "There Goes My Baby" with this second incarnation, featuring a lead vocal by Ben E. King
Ben E. King
Benjamin Earl King , better known as Ben E. King, is an American soul singer. He is perhaps best known as the singer and co-composer of "Stand by Me", a U.S...

, who also co-wrote the song. It was the first R&B song to feature a string arrangement, but Ertegun disliked it and Jerry Wexler was appalled, reportedly telling the producers; "Get that out of here. I hate it. It's out of tune and it's phony and it's shit and get it out of here". They refused to release it for several months, but when they finally relented and released it as a single in April 1959 the song shot to #1.

Phil Spector
Phil Spector
Phillip Harvey "Phil" Spector is an American record producer and songwriter, later known for his conviction in the murder of actress Lana Clarkson....

 had learned the basics of record production working for Lester Sill
Lester Sill
Lester Sill was an American record label executive, best remembered as Phil Spector's partner in Philles Records , and also as the head of both Colpix Records and the later Colgems Records...

 and Lee Hazlewood
Lee Hazlewood
Lee Hazlewood , born Barton Lee Hazlewood was an American country and pop singer, songwriter, and record producer, most widely known for his work with guitarist Duane Eddy during the late 1950s and singer Nancy Sinatra in the 1960s.Hazlewood had a distinctive baritone voice that added an ominous...

's Trey Records label (which was distributed by Atlantic) in California in the late 1950s. At Sill's recommendation he returned to New York to work for Leiber and Stoller in early 1960. Leiber and Stoller assigned him to produce Ray Peterson
Ray Peterson
Ray Peterson was an American pop music singer who was best remembered for singing "Tell Laura I Love Her" and "Corrine, Corrina" in the 1960s.-Career:...

's "Corrine, Corrina" and Curtis Lee's "Pretty Little Angle Eyes" (released on Petersen's Dunes Records label), both of which became hits. As a result, Atlantic signed him as a staff producer, though his difficult personality was already evident, and Ahmet Ertegun was reportedly the only Atlantic executive who liked him. Lieber later remarked, "He wasn't likeable. He was funny, he was amusing - but he wasn't nice." Wexler reportedly had no time for him and Miriam Bienstock, in her typically blunt fashion, described Spector's erratic behaviour "insane" and considered him "a pain in the neck". When Ertegun took Spector to meet Bobby Darin, he openly criticized Darin's songwriting, with the result that Darin had him thrown out of the house.

Despite these issues, Spector contributed to the production of several notable Atlantic singles by The Coasters, Ben E. King and the Drifters, although the extent of his contributions was later disputed by Lieber and Stoller. He also produced The Top Notes' original version of "Twist and Shout
Twist and Shout
"Twist and Shout" is a song written by Phil Medley and Bert Russell. It was originally titled "Shake It Up, Baby" and recorded by the Top Notes and then covered by The Isley Brothers. It was covered by The Beatles with John Lennon on the lead vocals and originally released on their first album...

," but it flopped. Bert Berns, the song's writer, was incensed by Spector's arrangement, which he believed had ruined the song, so Berns re-recorded it the way he thought it should sound with The Isley Brothers
The Isley Brothers
The Isley Brothers are a highly influential, successful and long-running American music group consisting of different line-ups of six brothers, and a brother-in-law, Chris Jasper...

, and it became a huge hit. Spector also produced Jean DuShon, Billy Storm, LaVern Baker and Ruth Brown during his short stay at Atlantic, with only moderate success. He left Atlantic in 1961 and returned to Los Angeles, where he founded Philles Records
Philles Records
Philles Records was a record label formed in 1961 by Phil Spector and Lester Sill, the label taking its name from a hybrid of their first names. Initially, the label was distributed by Jamie/Guyden in Philadelphia...

 with Lester Sill and soon established himself as the preeminent American pop producer of the mid-1960s

In early 1960 the 'new' Drifters debuted with "Dance With Me", which reached #15 on the pop chart and #2 R&B. "This Magic Moment" reached #16 on the pop chart, and their classic rendition of Doc Pomus' poignant "Save The Last Dance For Me
Save The Last Dance For Me
"Save the Last Dance for Me" is the title of a popular song written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, first recorded in 1960 by Ben E. King with The Drifters....

" became a major international pop hit, reaching #1 in the USA and #2 in the UK. However, in May 1960, after only one year and just 10 recordings with the Drifters, lead singer Benjamin Nelson left the group due to a dispute with manager George Treadwell. Assuming the stage name Ben E. King
Ben E. King
Benjamin Earl King , better known as Ben E. King, is an American soul singer. He is perhaps best known as the singer and co-composer of "Stand by Me", a U.S...

, he launched a successful solo career, although the Drifters went on to score several more big hits.

King's first solo single, "Spanish Harlem
Spanish Harlem
East Harlem, also known as Spanish Harlem and El Barrio, is a section of Harlem in the northeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. East Harlem is one of the largest predominantly Latino communities in New York City. It includes the area formerly known as Italian Harlem, in which...

 (co-written by Lieber and Spector), became a Top 10 pop hit in early 1961. It was followed by "Stand By Me
Stand by Me (song)
"Stand by Me" is the title of a song originally performed by Ben E. King and written by King, Jerry Leiber, and Mike Stoller, based on the spiritual "Lord Stand by Me,", plus two lines rooted in Psalms 46:2-3...

", a re-interpretation of the gospel standard "Lord, Stand By Me", with new lyrics by King and orchestration by Stan Applebaum. Reaching #4 on the pop chart, the song quickly became a standard covered by many artists including John Lennon
John Lennon
John Winston Lennon, MBE was an English musician and singer-songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music...

. It has since been included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers and others who have, in some major way,...

's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll listing and in 2001 it was voted #25 in the 'Songs of the Century
Songs of the Century
The "Songs of the Century" list is part of an education project by the Recording Industry Association of America , the National Endowment for the Arts, and Scholastic Inc. that aims to "promote a better understanding of America’s musical and cultural heritage" in American schools...

' poll conducted by the Recording Industry Association of America
Recording Industry Association of America
The Recording Industry Association of America is a trade organization that represents the recording industry distributors in the United States...

. In late 1962 The Drifters returned to the charts, fronted by new lead vocalist Rudy Lewis, performing hits recorded with Ben E. King on stage and TV. "Up On The Roof
Up on the Roof (song)
"Up on the Roof" is a song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and recorded in 1962 by The Drifters. Released at the tail end of that year, the song became a big hit in early 1963, reaching number five on the U.S. pop singles chart and number 4 on the U.S...

", co-written by Gerry Goffin
Gerry Goffin
Gerry Goffin is an American lyricist. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 with former songwriting partner and first wife, Carole King. he has co-written six Billboard Hot 100 chart-toppers.-Career:Goffin enlisted with the Marine Corps Reserve after graduating from...

 and Carole King
Carole King
Carole King is an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. King and her former husband Gerry Goffin wrote more than two dozen chart hits for numerous artists during the 1960s, many of which have become standards. As a singer, King had an album, Tapestry, top the U.S...

, was another major crossover hit making the Top 5 on both the pop and R&B charts and Mann and Weill's "On Broadway", made the Top 10 on both charts. It has since been covered by many artists. The Drifters' last hit, "Under The Boardwalk
Under the Boardwalk
"Under the Boardwalk" is a hit pop song written by Kenny Young and Arthur Resnick and recorded by The Drifters in 1964.-Premise:The lyric describes a tryst between a man and his beloved in a seaside town, who plan to privately meet "out of the sun" and out of sight from everyone else under a...

" (1964) was produced by Bert Berns
Bert Berns
Bertrand Russell Berns , most commonly known as Bert Berns as well as Bert Russell and Russell Byrd, was an American songwriter and record producer of the 1960s...

 and orchestrated by British arranger-producer-composer Mike Leander
Mike Leander
Michael George Farr professionally known as Mike Leander was an arranger and record producer for Decca Records in the 1960s and Bell Records in the 1970s and worked with such artists as Marianne Faithfull, Billy Fury, Marc Bolan, Joe Cocker, The Small Faces, Van Morrison, Alan Price, Peter...

. Lead singer Rudy Lewis
Rudy Lewis
Rudy Lewis was an American rhythm and blues singer with The Drifters. He was the lead singer on a few of their hits such as "Some Kind of Wonderful", "Please Stay", "On Broadway", and "Up on the Roof"....

 was found dead on the morning of the recording session (21 May 1964) and former lead singer Johnny Moore was brought in to replace him: despite this tragedy, the song became a big hit, reaching #4 on the pop chart and #1 on the R&B chart, and went on to be covered by many other acts, notably by The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones are an English rock band, formed in London in April 1962 by Brian Jones , Ian Stewart , Mick Jagger , and Keith Richards . Bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts completed the early line-up...

.

The Leiber & Stoller/Atlantic partnership was enormously successful, but by 1962 the relationship was deteriorating. The duo reportedly resented the credit accorded to Spector, but their own artistic and financial demands alienated the Atlantic executives. From the beginning, Miriam Bienstock "couldn't see why it was necessary to use them" and they infuriated Jerry Wexler by asking for producers' credits on record labels and sleeves, although this was grudgingly granted. The breaking point came when duo asked for a producer's royalty, which was also granted informally, but their accountant insisted on a written contract and also requested an audit of Atlantic's accounts. When this was carried out (over Jerry Wexler's strenuous objections) it was found that Leiber and Stoller had been underpaid by $18,000. Although Leiber considered dropping the matter, Stoller insisted on pressing Atlantic for payment, but when they presented their request, Wexler exploded, telling them it would mean the end of their relationship with Atlantic. Leiber and Stoller backed down but the showdown ended the partnership anyway: Ertegun and Wexler told them they would not be involved in The Drifters next recording, giving the assignment to Phil Spector. Atlantic quickly filled the gap left by Leiber and Stoller's departure with the hiring of producer and songwriter Bert Berns
Bert Berns
Bertrand Russell Berns , most commonly known as Bert Berns as well as Bert Russell and Russell Byrd, was an American songwriter and record producer of the 1960s...

, who had recently scored a major hit with his remake of "Twist and Shout" for The Isley Brothers
The Isley Brothers
The Isley Brothers are a highly influential, successful and long-running American music group consisting of different line-ups of six brothers, and a brother-in-law, Chris Jasper...

.

The ramifications of the split continued after Leiber and Stoller left Atlantic: in 1963 they set up Red Bird Records
Red Bird Records
Red Bird Records was a record label started by American pop music songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in 1964. Though often thought of as a "girl-group" label, female-led acts made up only 40% of the artist roster on Red Bird and its associated labels...

 with George Goldner
George Goldner
George Goldner was an American record label owner and promoter. He worked, amongst others, with The Crows, The Flamingos, The Cleftones, The Shangri-Las, The Teenagers, The Chantels, Little Richard and Lou Christie. He had a son named Cary and a wife named Grace...

. Although they scored major hits (including The Dixie Cups
The Dixie Cups
The Dixie Cups are an American pop music girl group of the 1960s. They are best known for their 1964 million selling disc, "Chapel of Love".-Career:...

' "Chapel of Love
Chapel of Love
"Chapel of Love" is a song written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector, and made famous by The Dixie Cups in 1964, spending three weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. There have also been many other versions of this song...

" and The Shangri-Las
The Shangri-Las
The Shangri-Las were an American pop girl group of the 1960s. Between 1964 and 1966 they charted with often heartbreaking teen melodramas, and remain best known for "Leader of the Pack" and "Remember ".- Early career :...

 "Leader of the Pack
Leader of the Pack
"Leader of the Pack" is a 1964 pop song recorded by girl group The Shangri-Las. It became number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 28, 1964.-Original Shangri-Las recording:...

") the label's business position was precarious, so in late 1964 they approached Jerry Wexler, proposing a merger with Atlantic. When interviewed in 1990 for Ertegun's biography, Wexler declined to discuss the matter, but Ertegun himself claimed that these negotiations soon developed into a plan to buy him out. At this time (September 1964) the Ertegun brothers and Wexler were in the process of buying out the company's other two shareholders, Dr Sabit and Miriam Bienstock and it was proposed (presumably by Wexler) that Leiber and Stoller would buy Sabit's shares. Leiber, Stoller, Goldner and Wexler pitched their plan to Ertegun at a fateful lunch meeting at the Plaza Hotel
Plaza Hotel
The Plaza Hotel in New York City is a landmark 20-story luxury hotel with a height of and length of that occupies the west side of Grand Army Plaza, from which it derives its name, and extends along Central Park South in Manhattan. Fifth Avenue extends along the east side of Grand Army Plaza...

 in New York. Though Leiber and Stoller were adamant it was not their intention to buy Ertegun out, Ahmet was aggravated by Goldner's high-handed attitude and became convinced that Wexler was conspiring with them. Wexler then told Ertegun that if he refused, Wexler would do the deal without him, but this was impossible since the Ertegun brothers still held the majority share, while Wexler only controlled about 20%. Ertegun nursed a lifelong grudge against Leiber and Stoller and the affair drove an irreparable wedge between Ertegun and Wexler.

Stax

Atlantic was doing so well in early 1959 that some scheduled releases were held back and the company enjoyed two successive months of gross sales of over $1 million that summer, thanks to hits by The Coasters, The Drifters, LaVern Baker, Ray Charles, Bobby Darin and Clyde McPhatter However, only months later the company was reeling from the successive loss of its two biggest artists, Bobby Darin and Ray Charles, who together accounted for one third of sales. Charles signed a deal with ABC-Paramount Records in November 1959 that reportedly included increased royalties, a production deal, profit-sharing and eventual ownership of his master tapes. Wexler later commented; "It was very grim. I thought we were going to die" and Ertegun in 1990 disputed whether Charles had received the promised benefits. It led to a permanent rift between Charles and his former colleagues, although Ertegun remained good friends with Darin who returned to Atlantic in 1966. Charles returned to Atlantic in 1977.

Through 1961-62 Lieber and Stoller's successes maintained the label's fortunes, and these were further enhanced by a licensing deal with a small Memphis-based independent label Stax Records
Stax Records
Stax Records is an American record label, originally based in Memphis, Tennessee.Founded in 1957 as Satellite Records, the name Stax Records was adopted in 1961. The label was a major factor in the creation of the Southern soul and Memphis soul music styles, also releasing gospel, funk, jazz, and...

, which would soon prove to be of enormous value. In 1960, Atlantic's Memphis distributor Buster Williams contacted Wexler and told him he was pressing large quantities of "Cause I Love You", a duet between Memphis-based singers Carla Thomas
Carla Thomas
Carla Thomas is an American singer, who is often referred to as the Queen of Memphis Soul. She is the daughter of Rufus Thomas.-Childhood:...

 and her father Rufus Thomas
Rufus Thomas
Rufus Thomas, Jr. was an American rhythm and blues, funk and soul singer and comedian fromMemphis, Tennessee, who recorded on Sun Records in the...

, which was released on a small local label called Satellite (which was soon renamed Stax Records
Stax Records
Stax Records is an American record label, originally based in Memphis, Tennessee.Founded in 1957 as Satellite Records, the name Stax Records was adopted in 1961. The label was a major factor in the creation of the Southern soul and Memphis soul music styles, also releasing gospel, funk, jazz, and...

, from the names of the owners, Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton, in 1961). Wexler contacted the co-owner of Satellite, Jim Stewart
Jim Stewart (music)
Jim Stewart is a former record company executive and producer who co-founded Stax Records.- Biography :Raised on a farm in Middleton, Tennessee, Stewart moved to Memphis in 1948, after graduating from high school. He worked at Sears, at First National Bank, and then was drafted into the United...

, who agreed to lease the record to Atlantic for $1000 plus a small royalty (the first money the label had ever made). The deal included a $5000 payment against a five-year option on all other records. When Carla Thomas' first solo single, "Gee Whiz (Look at his Eyes)" began to attract national attention in 1961 New York producer Hy Weiss
Hy Weiss
-Biography:Born Hyman Y. Weiss in Romania, he was an immigrant to the United States when young and was brought up in the Bronx, New York. He started in the music industry in 1949, setting up Parody Records with his brother Sam....

, went to Memphis to try and acquire the rights, but after examining the contract he told Wexler it gave Atlantic options on all Satellite recordings for the next five years. Wexler subsequently claimed he had been unaware of this: "The lawyers did it and I didn't read every contract." Wexler and Stewart and discussed the deal and according to Wexler's account, "... there was no acrimony. Everything was fine and we picked up the record. Then we really rolled with Stax."

The Atlantic deal marked the start of a hugely successful eight-year association between the two labels, giving Stax access to Atlantic's promotions and distribution, and it meant easy money for Atlantic, as Wexler later conceded:
"...it was certainly biased on our favor. We didn't pay for the masters ... Jim paid for the masters and then he would send us a finished tape and we would put it out. Our costs began at the production level - the pressing, and distribution, and promotion, and advertising."


Atlantic began pressing and distributing Stax records and Wexler soon sent Tom Dowd to upgrade Stax's recording equipment and facilities. Wexler was impressed by the easy-going, cooperative atmosphere at the Stax studios and by the distinctive sound of the label's racially-integrated group of 'house' musicians (which he described as "an unthinkably great band") and he was soon bringing Atlantic artists to Memphis to record. Shortly afterwards Stewart and Wexler hired Al Bell
Al Bell
Al Bell is an American record producer, songwriter, and record executive. Bell is best known as one of the key figures behind and a co-owner of Memphis, Tennessee-based Stax Records during the latter half of the label's nineteen-year existence...

, then working as a DJ at a Washington DC radio station, to take over national promotion of Stax releases, the first African-American partner in the label.

In 1962 the Stax deal began to reap major rewards for both labels. An after-hours jam by members of the Stax house band resulted in the classic instrumental "Green Onions". In conversation with BBC Radio 2 DJ Johnnie Walker
Johnnie Walker (DJ)
Johnnie Walker MBE is a popular British veteran radio disc jockey and broadcaster....

 on 7 September 2008, guitarist Steve Cropper
Steve Cropper
Steve Cropper , also known as Steve "The Colonel" Cropper, is an American guitarist, songwriter and record producer. He is best known as the guitarist of the Stax Records house band, Booker T...

 revealed that the record became an instant success when DJ Reuben Washington played it four times in succession on Memphis radio station WLOK, before either the tune or the band had an agreed-upon name. The single was issued nationally in August 1962, by which time the band had been dubbed Booker T & the MGs; "Green Onions" became the biggest instrumental hit of the year, reaching #1 on the R&B chart and #3 on the pop chart, where it stayed for 16 weeks, and it sold over one million copies, earning a gold record award.

1962 also saw the Stax debut of Otis Redding
Otis Redding
Otis Ray Redding, Jr. was an American soul singer-songwriter, record producer, arranger and talent scout. He is considered one of the major figures in soul and R&B...

, who had been Johnny Jenkins
Johnny Jenkins
Johnny Edward Jenkins was an American left-handed blues guitarist, who helped launch the career of Otis Redding...

' driver and was allowed to record several songs at the end of one of Jenkins' sessions, among them his own "These Arms of Mine", which was released on Stax's Volt subsidiary and became a minor hit in the south. Over the next five years Redding would become one of Stax's most important artists. During 1965 Redding broke through into the national charts; "Mr. Pitiful
Mr. Pitiful
"Mr. Pitiful" is a song written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper which was on the 1965 album The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads. It also appeared on The Commitments soundtrack...

" reached #10 on the soul chart and just missed out on the pop Top 40, followed by "I've Been Loving You Too Long
I've Been Loving You Too Long
"I've Been Loving You Too Long" is a song written by Otis Redding and Jerry Butler. It appeared as the A-side of a 1965 hit single by Otis Redding - and subsequently appeared on his third album, Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul...

", which made #2 on the soul chart and peaked at #21. "Respect
Respect (song)
"Respect" is a song written and originally released by Stax recording artist Otis Redding in 1965. "Respect" became a 1967 hit and signature song for R&B singer Aretha Franklin. The music in the two versions is significantly different, and through a few minor changes in the lyrics, the stories told...

" also performed strongly, reaching #4 on the soul chart and #35 on the pop chart.

Over the next five years Stax and its subsidiary Volt provided Atlantic with a tremendous run of success, and many Atlantic artists were taken to Memphis to record. Among the many hits recorded by (or at) Stax between 1963 and 1967 were Rufus Thomas' "Walking The Dog
Walking the Dog
"Walking the Dog" is a Rufus Thomas song. It was released on his 1963 album Walking the Dog. It was his signature hit and also his biggest, reaching number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1963 and remaining on the Hot 100 for 14 weeks...

", Otis Redding's "Respect", his classic version of "Try A Little Tenderness
Try a Little Tenderness
"Try a Little Tenderness" is a love song written by Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly and Harry M. Woods, and recorded initially on December 8, 1932 by the Ray Noble Orchestra followed by both Ruth Etting and Bing Crosby in 1933...

" and "Tramp
Tramp
A tramp is a long term homeless person who travels from place to place as a vagrant, traditionally walking or hiking all year round. In British English meanwhile a tramp simply refers to a homeless person, usually not a travelling one....

", his hit duet with Carla Thomas
Carla Thomas
Carla Thomas is an American singer, who is often referred to as the Queen of Memphis Soul. She is the daughter of Rufus Thomas.-Childhood:...

, Eddie Floyd
Eddie Floyd
Eddie Lee Floyd is an American soul/R&B singer and songwriter, best known for his work on the Stax record label in the 1960s and 1970s and the song "Knock on Wood".-Biography:...

's "Knock On Wood
Knock on Wood (song)
"Knock on Wood" is a hit 1966 song written by Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper and originally performed by Eddie Floyd. The Eddie Floyd version peaked at number twenty-eight on the Hot 100, and spent one week at number one on the soul singles....

" and The Bar-Kays' "Soul Finger
Soul Finger
"Soul Finger" is the first single released by R&B group The Bar-Kays. It was issued by Stax Records on the Volt Records label on April 14, 1967....

". Sam & Dave
Sam & Dave
Sam & Dave were an American soul and rhythm and blues duo who performed together from 1961 through 1981. The tenor voice was Samuel David Moore , and the baritone/tenor voice was Dave Prater .Sam & Dave are members of...

 were signed to Atlantic but recorded at Stax at Jerry Wexler's suggestion; with the Stax band and the writing team of Isaac Hayes
Isaac Hayes
Isaac Lee Hayes, Jr. was an American songwriter, musician, singer and actor. Hayes was one of the creative influences behind the southern soul music label Stax Records, where he served both as an in-house songwriter and as a record producer, teaming with his partner David Porter during the...

 and David Porter
David Porter (musician)
David Porter is an American soul musician. Porter is best known as the songwriting and production partner of Isaac Hayes at Stax Records during the 1960s...

, the duo scored eight consecutive R&B Top 20 hits including "You Don't Know Like I Know", "Hold On, I'm Coming", "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
When Something Is Wrong with My Baby
"When Something Is Wrong with My Baby" is a popular hit song, a soul ballad, written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, sung by Sam & Dave, and first released in 1967 by Stax Records....

", "Soul Man
Soul Man (song)
"Soul Man" is a 1967 song written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, first successful as a #2 hit single by Atlantic Records soul duo Sam & Dave.-Song history and background:...

" and "I Thank You
I Thank You (song)
"I Thank You" is a song written by David Porter and Isaac Hayes originally recorded by Sam & Dave, released in early 1968. The single was Sam & Dave's final release on Stax Records, reaching #9 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart and #4 on the R&B chart...

; Wilson Pickett
Wilson Pickett
Wilson Pickett was an American R&B/Soul singer and songwriter.A major figure in the development of American soul music, Pickett recorded over 50 songs which made the US R&B charts, and frequently crossed over to the US Billboard Hot 100...

 scored hits with "In The Midnight Hour
In the Midnight Hour
"In the Midnight Hour" is a song originally performed by Wilson Pickett in 1965 and released on the 1966 album The Exciting Wilson Pickett. It was composed by Pickett and Steve Cropper at the historic Lorraine Motel in Memphis where Martin Luther King, Jr. would later be murdered in April 1968...

", "634-5789", "Land of 1000 Dances", "Mustang Sally
Mustang Sally (song)
"Mustang Sally" is an R&B/straightforward blues first recorded by Mack Rice in 1965. It gained greater popularity when it was covered by Wilson Pickett on a single the following year. Pickett's version was also included on his 1967 album The Wicked Pickett....

", "Funky Broadway
Funky Broadway
"Funky Broadway" is a song written by Arlester "Dyke" Christian. It was originally recorded by his band, Dyke & the Blazers, in 1967, and was made into a hit by Wilson Pickett that same year....

" and "I'm In Love".

Some of Pickett's earlier hits were recorded at Stax, but in early 1966 Jim Stewart banned all non-Stax productions from the studio, so Atlantic began using other southern studios, notably Rick Hall's FAME Studios
FAME Studios
FAME Studios are located at 603 East Avalon in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. They have been an integral part of American popular music from the late 1950s to the present...

 in Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Muscle Shoals is a city in Colbert County, Alabama, United States. As of 2007, the United States Census Bureau estimated the population of the city to be 12,846. The city is included in The Shoals MSA. It is famous for its contributions to American popular music.-Geography:Muscle Shoals is located...

, and the American Group Productions studio in Memphis, run by former Stax producer Chips Moman
Chips Moman
Lincoln Wayne "Chips" Moman is an American record producer, guitarist, and songwriter. As a record producer, Moman is known for recording Elvis Presley, Bobby Womack, Carla Thomas, and Merrilee Rush, as well as guiding the career of the Box Tops in Memphis, Tennessee during the 1960s...

.

The soul years, 1962–1967

In late 1961 singer Solomon Burke
Solomon Burke
Solomon Burke was an American singer-songwriter, entrepreneur, mortician, and an archbishop of the United House of Prayer For All People. Burke was known as "King Solomon", the "King of Rock 'n' Soul", and as the "Bishop of Soul", and described as "the Muhammad Ali of soul", and as "the most...

 arrived at Jerry Wexler's office unannounced. Wexler was a fan of Burke's and had long wanted to sign him so when Burke told Wexler his contract with his former label had expired Wexler replied: "You're home. I'm signing you today". The first song Wexler produced with Burke was "Just Out of Reach
Just Out of Reach
Just Out Of Reach was Perry Como's 23nd RCA Victor 12" long-play album, the 21st recorded in full "living" stereophonic sound.-Track listing:Side One#"Let's Do It Again"...

", which became a big hit in September 1961. Burke's the soul/country & western crossover predated Ray Charles' similar venture by more than 6 months. Burke became a consistent big seller through the mid-1960s and scored hits on Atlantic into 1968. In 1962 folk music
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

 was booming and the label came very close to signing Peter, Paul & Mary; although Wexler and Ertegun pursued them vigorously the deal fell through at the last minute and they later discovered music publisher Artie Mogull had introduced their manager Albert Grossman
Albert Grossman
Albert Bernard Grossman was an American entrepreneur and manager in the American folk music scene and rock and roll. He was most famous as the manager of Bob Dylan between 1962 and 1970.-Biography:...

 to Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

 executive Herman Starr, who had made the trio an irresistible offer that gave them complete creative control over the recording and packaging of their music.

Doris Troy
Doris Troy
Doris Troy was an American R&B singer, known to her many fans as "Mama Soul".She was born as Doris Higginson in The Bronx, the daughter of a Barbadian Pentecostal minister. Her parents disapproved of "subversive" forms of music like rhythm & blues, so she cut her teeth singing in her father's choir...

 signed with Atlantic in early 1963 and in June scored a major hit with "Just One Look
Just One Look
Just One Look is a 2002 Hong Kong film written and directed by Yip Kam-Hung, and starring Shawn Yue, Anthony Wong and Gillian Chung.-Plot:A young man contemplates revenge on the gangster he believes responsible for his father's death...

", which she co-wrote and which reached #3 on the R&B chart and #10 on the pop chart. She scored another UK hit with "What'cha Gonna Do About It" and went on to a long and a successful career as a backing vocalist on many Dusty Springfield
Dusty Springfield
Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'BrienSources use both Isabel and Isobel as the spelling of her second name. OBE , known professionally as Dusty Springfield and dubbed The White Queen of Soul, was a British pop singer whose career extended from the late 1950s to the 1990s...

 hits and with other famous acts including Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd were an English rock band that achieved worldwide success with their progressive and psychedelic rock music. Their work is marked by the use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows. Pink Floyd are one of the most commercially...

, George Harrison
George Harrison
George Harrison, MBE was an English musician, guitarist, singer-songwriter, actor and film producer who achieved international fame as lead guitarist of The Beatles. Often referred to as "the quiet Beatle", Harrison became over time an admirer of Indian mysticism, and introduced it to the other...

 and Nick Drake
Nick Drake
Nicholas Rodney "Nick" Drake was an English singer-songwriter and musician. Though he is best known for his sombre guitar based songs, Drake was also proficient at piano, clarinet and saxophone...

. "Just One Look" has been covered by many other artists including The Hollies
The Hollies
The Hollies are an English pop and rock group, formed in Manchester in the early 1960s, though most of the band members are from throughout East Lancashire. Known for their distinctive vocal harmony style, they became one of the leading British groups of the 1960s and 1970s...

, whose version became a major hit in the UK and gave the group its first US chart placing in 1964.

1967-68 was a peak period for Atlantic, as the string of hits coming from the Stax roster was augmented by by the tremendous success of Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin
Aretha Louise Franklin is an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. Although known for her soul recordings and referred to as The Queen of Soul, Franklin is also adept at jazz, blues, R&B, gospel music, and rock. Rolling Stone magazine ranked her atop its list of The Greatest Singers of All...

. Wexler had signed her in 1966 after the expiry of her contract with Columbia Records
Columbia Records
Columbia Records is an American record label, owned by Japan's Sony Music Entertainment, operating under the Columbia Music Group with Aware Records. It was founded in 1888, evolving from an earlier enterprise, the American Graphophone Company — successor to the Volta Graphophone Company...

, who had unsuccessfully tried to market her as a jazz singer. In November that year a Columbia executive asked Jerry Wexler what he was going to do with Franklin, to which he replied "we're gonna put her back in church". Wexler was determined to return Franklin to her gospel roots and personally took over her production at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, crucially allowing her to establish the "feel" of the songs by singing while accompanying herself on piano. Although the session was fraught with tension (mainly due to the fractious presence of Aretha's then husband and manager, Ted White), it yielded a double-sided hit which initiated a run of seven consecutive singles that made both the US pop and soul Top 10, and of which five were million-sellers; "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)" (b/w "Do Right Woman
Do Right Woman
Do Right Woman is the debut solo album by Barbara Dickson.Barbara Dickson's first two solo albums were on Decca Records. They won critical praise but poor sales. They show the repertoire that she had at that time as a singer in folk clubs...

") (#1 soul, #9 pop), "Respect
Respect (song)
"Respect" is a song written and originally released by Stax recording artist Otis Redding in 1965. "Respect" became a 1967 hit and signature song for R&B singer Aretha Franklin. The music in the two versions is significantly different, and through a few minor changes in the lyrics, the stories told...

" (#1 pop and soul), "Baby, I Love You
Baby, I Love You
"Baby, I Love You" is a pop song written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector, produced by Spector, and originally recorded in 1963 by The Ronettes...

" (soul #1, pop #4), "You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman" (#2 pop and soul), "Chain of Fools
Chain of Fools
Chain of Fools is a 2000 heist comedy/romance film about a hapless barber named Kresk .-Plot:...

" (soul #1, pop #2), "Since You've Been Gone
(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone
" Since You've Been Gone" is a classic song by R&B singer Aretha Franklin. Released from her Lady Soul album in 1968, the song was successful, debuting at #32 on the Hot 100, peaking at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart and spent three weeks at #1 on the Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles chart...

" (1968, soul #1, pop #5) and "Think" (1968, soul #1, pop #7).

The mid-1960s British Invasion
British Invasion
The British Invasion is a term used to describe the large number of rock and roll, beat, rock, and pop performers from the United Kingdom who became popular in the United States during the time period from 1964 through 1966.- Background :...

 led Atlantic to change its British distributor, since Decca did not give Atlantic access to its British recording artists, who mainly appeared in the U.S. via their U.S. subsidiary London Records
London Records
London Records, referred to as London Recordings in logo, is a record label headquartered in the United Kingdom, originally marketing records in the United States, Canada and Latin America from 1947 to 1979, then becoming a semi-independent label....

. In 1966 Atlantic signed a new reciprocal licensing deal with Polydor Records
Polydor Records
Polydor is a record label owned by Universal Music Group, headquartered in the United Kingdom.-Beginnings:Polydor was originally an independent branch of the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. Its name was first used as an export label in 1924, the British and German branches of the Gramophone...

 which, thanks to Polydor's recent distribution deal with Robert Stigwood
Robert Stigwood
Robert Stigwood is an impresario and entertainment entrepreneur who relocated to England in 1954...

's Reaction
Reaction Records
Reaction Records was an independent British record label, run by music executive Robert Stigwood in 1966 and 1967. Although Reaction released only three albums, one EP and eighteen singles in its brief existence, its roster included two of the most popular British bands of the time, The Who and Cream...

 label, included newly-formed British "supergroup" Cream
Cream (band)
Cream were a 1960s British rock supergroup consisting of bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce, guitarist/vocalist Eric Clapton, and drummer Ginger Baker...

, whose debut album was released on Atco in late 1966. In May 1967 the group came to Atlantic's New York studio to record their US breakthrough LP Disraeli Gears
Disraeli Gears
Disraeli Gears is the second album by British supergroup Cream. It was released in November 1967 and went on to reach #5 on the UK Albums Chart. It was also their American breakthrough, becoming a massive seller there in 1968, reaching #4 on the American charts...

with Tom Dowd; it became a Top 5 LP in both the US and the UK, with the single "Sunshine of Your Love
Sunshine of Your Love
"Sunshine of Your Love" is a 1967 song by the British supergroup Cream. The song was originally released on the album Disraeli Gears in November 1967, and was later released as a single in January 1968. It is Cream's only gold-selling single in the United States. It features a distinctive...

" reaching #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. Although Jerry Wexler was dismissive of the new developments in popular music—derisively dubbing the new generation of (predominantly white) musicians as "the rockoids" -- Cream's American success marked the beginning of Atlantic's hugely successful diversification into the exploding rock music
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

 market, which would reap enormous rewards in the 1970s with signings such as Led Zeppelin, Yes and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

In late 1966 rising Los Angeles gropup Buffalo Springfield
Buffalo Springfield
Buffalo Springfield is a North American folk rock band renown both for its music and as a springboard for the careers of Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay and Jim Messina. Among the first wave of North American bands to become popular in the wake of the British invasion, the group combined...

 were signed to the Atco label, and in early 1967 they scored a major US hit with their second single, "For What It's Worth", which made the natioanl Top 10, sold over 1 million copies and earned a gold record award. Despite this early breakthrough and Ahmet Ertegun's high hopes for the band, internal tensions and the drug-related deportation of Canadian-born bassist Bruce Palmer led to the band splitting up in May 1968 without achieving any further hits. However former members Stephen Stills
Stephen Stills
Stephen Arthur Stills is an American guitarist and singer/songwriter best known for his work with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash . He has performed on a professional level in several other bands as well as maintaining a solo career at the same time...

 and Neil Young
Neil Young
Neil Percival Young, OC, OM is a Canadian singer-songwriter who is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of his generation...

 would go on to play a major role in Atlantic's rock success as members of 70s supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Acquisition by Warner Bros.

Despite the huge success Atlantic was enjoying with its own artists and through its deal with Stax, by 1967 Jerry Wexler was seriously concerned about the disintegration of the old order of independent record companies and, fearing for the label's future, he began agitating for it to be sold to a larger company. Label president Ahmet Ertgeun still had no desire to sell, but the balance of power had changed since the abortive takeover attempt of 1962; Atlantic's original investor Dr Vahdi Sabit and minority stockholder Miriam Bienstock had both been bought out in September 1964 and the other remaining partner, Nesuhi Ertgeun, was eventually convinced to side with Wexler. Since they jointly held more stock, Ahmet was obliged to agree to the sale.

In October 1967 Atlantic was sold to Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
Warner Bros.-Seven Arts was formed in 1967 and became defunct in 1970, when Seven Arts Productions acquired Jack Warner's controlling interest in Warner Bros. for $32 million and merged with it. The deal also included Warner Bros. Records, Reprise Records and the B&W Looney Tunes library...

 for US$17.5 million, although all the partners later agreed that it was a poor deal which greatly undervalued Atlantic's true worth. Initially, Atlantic and Atco operated entirely separately from WB-SA's other labels, Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

 and Reprise Records
Reprise Records
Reprise Records is an American record label, founded in 1960 by Frank Sinatra. It is owned by Warner Music Group, and operated through Warner Bros. Records.-Beginnings:...

, and WB-SA's management did not interfere with the music division, since the ailing movie division was losing money, while the Warner recording division was booming - by mid-1968 Warner's recording and publishing interests were generating 74% of the group's total profits.

The sale of Atlantic Records activated a clause in the distribution agreement with Stax Records calling for renegotiation of the distribution deal and at this point the Stax partners discovered that the deal gave Atlantic ownership of all the Stax recordings Atlantic distributed. The new Warner owners refused to relinquish ownership of the Stax masters, so the distribution deal ended on May 1968. Atlantic continues to hold the rights to Stax recordings they distributed in the 1960s.

In the wake of the takeover, Jerry Wexler's influence in the company rapidly diminished; by his own admission, he and Ertegun had run Atlantic as "utmost despots" but in the new corporate structure, he found himself unwilling to accept the delegation of responsibility that his executive role dictated. He was also alienated from the "rockoid" white acts that were quickly becoming the label's most profitable commodities, and dispirited by the rapidly waning fortunes of the black acts he had championed, such as Ben E. King and Solomon Burke. Wexler ultimately decided to leave New York and move to Florida. Following his departure, Ertegun—who had previously taken little interest in Atlantic's business affairs—took decisive control of the label and quickly became a major force in the expanding Warner music group.

During 1968 Atlantic established a new subsidiary label, Cotillion Records
Cotillion Records
Cotillion Records was a subsidiary of Atlantic Records and was active from 1968 through 1985. The label was originally formed as an outlet for blues and deep Southern soul; its first single, Otis Clay's version of "She's About A Mover", reached the R&B charts. Cotillion's catalog quickly expanded...

. It The label was originally formed as an outlet for blues and deep Southern soul; its first single, Otis Clay
Otis Clay
Otis Clay is an American R&B and soul singer, who started in gospel music.-Life and career:...

's version of "She's About A Mover", was an R&B hit. Cotillion's catalog quickly expanded to include progressive rock, folk-rock, gospel, jazz and comedy. In 1976, the label started focusing on disco and R&B. Among its acts were the post-Curtis Mayfield Impressions, Slave
Slave (band)
Slave was an Ohio funk band popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Trumpeter Steve Washington and Mark Hicks formed the group in Dayton, Ohio in 1975.-Career:Trombonist Floyd Miller teamed with Tom Lockett Jr...

, Brook Benton
Brook Benton
Brook Benton was an American singer and songwriter who was popular with rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and pop music audiences during the late 1950s and early 1960s, when he scored hits such as "It's Just A Matter Of Time" and "Endlessly", many of which he co-wrote.He made a comeback in 1970...

, Jean Knight
Jean Knight
Jean Knight is an African-American soul/R&B/funk singer, best known for her 1971 Stax Records hit single, "Mr. Big Stuff".-Early years:...

, Mass Production
Mass Production (band)
Mass Production was an American funk/disco musical group, best known for their 1979 hit, "Firecracker." Based in Norfolk, Virginia, the ten-piece group had a series of minor R&B hits in the late 1970s and early 1980s...

, Sister Sledge
Sister Sledge
Sister Sledge is an American musical group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, formed in 1972 and consisting of four sisters: Kim Sledge Debbie Sledge , Joni Sledge , and Kathy Sledge . They are granddaughters of the former opera singer Viola Williams. The sisters used to perform under the name of "Mrs...

, The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground was an American rock band formed in New York City. First active from 1964 to 1973, their best-known members were Lou Reed and John Cale, who both went on to find success as solo artists. Although experiencing little commercial success while together, the band is often cited...

, Stacy Lattisaw
Stacy Lattisaw
Stacy Lattisaw is an American R&B, dance, and gospel singer. Since the 1990s, she has exclusively sung gospel music, as a callback to her Christian roots.-Career:...

, Lou Donaldson
Lou Donaldson
Lou Donaldson is a jazz alto saxophonist. He was born in Badin, North Carolina. He is best known for his soulful, bluesy approach to playing the alto saxophone, although in his formative years he was, as many were of the bebop era, heavily influenced by Charlie Parker.His first recordings were...

, Mylon LeFevre
Mylon LeFevre
Mylon LeFevre is an American Christian music singer, who was the leader of the Grammy Award-winning band Mylon and Broken Heart. He is a member of the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame. He currently travels around the United States, ministering, teaching and singing...

, Stevie Woods
Stevie Woods
Stephen "Stevie" Woods is a Scottish former goalkeeper who currently works as a Goalkeeping Coach for Celtic. He was appointed to this role at the end of June 2007. In June 2009 he was promoted to the he role of first team Goalkeeping Coach.During his playing career Woods played for Hibernian,...

, Johnny Gill
Johnny Gill
Johnny Gill is an American R&B singer-songwriter. He is the sixth and final member of the R&B supergroup New Edition, and was also a member of another supergroup called LSG; with Gerald Levert and Keith Sweat. His signature song "My, My, My" has been included on numerous romantic...

, Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Emerson, Lake & Palmer, also known as ELP, are an English progressive rock supergroup. They found success in the 1970s and sold over forty million albums and headlined large stadium concerts. The band consists of Keith Emerson , Greg Lake and Carl Palmer...

, Garland Green, The Dynamics
The Dynamics
The Dynamics were an American R&B group from Detroit, Michigan.The Dynamics formed in the late 1960s, and were managed by Ted White, who married Aretha Franklin. The group released two full-length albums and charted three hits on the U.S...

, The Fabulous Counts
The Fabulous Counts
The Fabulous Counts were an American soul/funk group from Detroit, Michigan. They won local acclaim as an instrumental group and as a backing ensemble for visiting solo acts after their formation in 1968...

, and The Fatback Band. Cotillion was also responsible for launching the career of Luther Vandross, who recorded for the label as part of the trio Luther. Cotillion also released the triple-albums soundtrack of the Woodstock festival
Woodstock Festival
Woodstock Music & Art Fair was a music festival, billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music". It was held at Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm in the Catskills near the hamlet of White Lake in the town of Bethel, New York, from August 15 to August 18, 1969...

 film in 1970. From 1970 it also distributed Embryo Records
Embryo Records
Embryo Records was a jazz and rock record label founded by Herbie Mann as a division of Atlantic Records, itself distributed by the Atlantic subsidiary Cotillion Records. The label released albums in the years 1969 through 1977.-Discography:...

, founded by jazz flautist Herbie Mann
Herbie Mann
Herbert Jay Solomon , better known as Herbie Mann, was a Jewish American jazz flutist and important early practitioner of world music...

 after his earlier Atlantic contract had expired.

In 1969 Warner Bros.-Seven Arts was taken over by the Kinney National Company
Kinney National Company
Kinney National Services, Inc. was formed in 1966 when the Kinney Parking Company and the National Cleaning Company merged. The new company was headed by Steve Ross....

, and in the early 1970s the group was rebadged as Warner Communications. After buying Elektra Records
Elektra Records
Elektra Records is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group. In 2004, it was consolidated into WMG's Atlantic Records Group. After five years of dormancy, the label was revived by Atlantic in 2009....

 and its sister label Nonesuch Records
Nonesuch Records
Nonesuch Records is an American record label, owned by Warner Music Group and distributed by Warner Bros. Records.-Company history:Nonesuch was founded in 1964 by Jac Holzman to produce "fine records at the same price as a trade paperback", which would be half the price of a normal LP...

 in 1970, Kinney combined the operations of all of its record labels under a new holding company, Warner-Elektra-Atlantic, or WEA for short, and also known as Warner Music Group. WEA was also used as a label for distributing the company's artists outside North America. In January 1970, Ahmet Ertegun was successful in his executive battle against Warner Bros. Records president Mike Maitland to keep Atlantic Records autonomous and as a result Maitland was fired by Kinney president Steve Ross. Ertegun recommended Mo Ostin
Mo Ostin
Mo Ostin is a record executive who has worked for several companies, including Verve, Reprise Records, Warner Bros. Records, and DreamWorks. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 by Paul Simon, Neil Young, and Lorne Michaels...

 to succeed Maitland as Warner Bros. Records president. With Ertegun's power at Warners now secure, Atlantic was able to successfully maintain autonomy through the parent company reorganizations and continue to do their own marketing, while WEA handled distribution.

The rock era

In late October 1968 music manager Peter Grant flew to New York with tapes of the debut album by new British rock band Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin were an English rock band, active in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Formed in 1968, they consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham...

 and met with Ertegun and Wexler. A deal was quickly drawn up and on November 23 Atlantic issused a press release announcing the signing of the band to an exclusive five-year contract, one of the "most substantial" in the label's history; although not disclosed at the time, this included an advance of $US200,000. The band recorded directly for Atlantic Records from 1968 to 1973 and after that contract expired, they founded their own "vanity" label, Swan Song Records
Swan Song Records
Swan Song Records was a record label launched by the English rock band Led Zeppelin on 10 May 1974. It was overseen by Led Zeppelin's manager Peter Grant and was a vehicle for the band to promote its own products as well as sign artists who found it difficult to win contracts with other major labels...

 and signed a distribution deal with Atlantic (after being turned down by other labels). The arrival of Led Zeppelin proved timely for Atlantic's future as a rock label - one month after the Zeppelin signing, Atlantic's flagship rock act Cream played their farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall situated on the northern edge of the South Kensington area, in the City of Westminster, London, England, best known for holding the annual summer Proms concerts since 1941....

 in London (supported, coincidentally, by another up-and-coming new band, Yes
Yes (band)
Yes are an English rock band who achieved worldwide success with their progressive, art, and symphonic style of rock music. Regarded as one of the pioneers of the progressive genre, Yes are known for their lengthy songs, mystical lyrics, elaborate album art, and live stage sets...

, who were themselves signed to Atlantic early the next year).

Following his departure from The Hollies
The Hollies
The Hollies are an English pop and rock group, formed in Manchester in the early 1960s, though most of the band members are from throughout East Lancashire. Known for their distinctive vocal harmony style, they became one of the leading British groups of the 1960s and 1970s...

, singer-songwriter Graham Nash
Graham Nash
Graham William Nash, OBE is an English singer-songwriter known for his light tenor vocals and for his songwriting contributions with the British pop group The Hollies, and with the folk-rock band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Nash is a photography collector and a published photographer...

 met Stephen Stills (ex Buffalo Springfield) and David Crosby
David Crosby
David Van Cortlandt Crosby is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. In addition to his solo career, he was a founding member of three bands: The Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash , and CPR...

 (ex The Byrds
The Byrds
The Byrds were an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. The band underwent multiple line-up changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn remaining the sole consistent member until the group disbanded in 1973...

) at a party at the Los Angeles home of Cass Elliott in March 1968. When Nash sang with them their unique vocal chemistry was instantly apparent and this quickly led to them forming Crosby, Stills & Nash. After failing an audition for Apple Records
Apple Records
Apple Records is a record label founded by The Beatles in 1968, as a division of Apple Corps Ltd. It was initially intended as a creative outlet for the Beatles, both as a group and individually, plus a selection of other artists including Mary Hopkin, James Taylor, Badfinger, and Billy Preston...

, they went to Atlantic, who eagerly snapped them up and gave them virtually complete freedom to record their debut album. The signing was initially complicated by the fact that Nash was still nominally under contract to Epic Records
Epic Records
Epic Records is an American record label, owned by Sony Music Entertainment. Though it was originally conceived as a jazz imprint, it has since expanded to represent various genres. L.A...

 (The Hollies' US distributor), but Ahmet Ertegun overcame this by arranging a 'swap' - he released former Buffalo Spingfield member Richie Furay
Richie Furay
Richie Furay is an American singer, songwriter, and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member who is best known for forming the bands Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Bruce Palmer, and Dewey Martin, and Poco with Jim Messina, Rusty Young, George Grantham and Randy Meisner...

 from his Atlantic contract, allowing his new group Poco
Poco
Poco is an Southern California country rock band originally formed by Richie Furay and Jim Messina following the demise of Buffalo Springfield in 1968. The title of their first album, Pickin' Up the Pieces, is a reference to the break-up of Buffalo Springfield. Highly influential and creative,...

 to sign to Epic, in exchange for Nash being allowed to move to Atlantic. The deal proved highly advantageous to Atlantic - Poco only achieved moderate success for Epic, while Crosby, Stills & Nash's self-titled debut album
Crosby, Stills & Nash (album)
Crosby, Stills & Nash is the first album by Crosby, Stills & Nash, released in 1969 on the Atlantic Records label. It spawned two Top 40 hits, "Marrakesh Express" and "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," which peaked respectively at #28 the week of August 23, 1969, and at #21 the week of October 25, 1969, on...

 (released in May 1969) was major hit; it reached #6 on the Billboard album chart, spawned two US Top 40 singles, became a multi-platinum seller and eventually earned a place in the Rolling Stone list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
"The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" is the title of a 2003 special issue of American magazine Rolling Stone, and a related book published in 2005.Related news articles:...

, and this led to a new incarnation of the band, which became even more successful.

Their commercial breakthrough prompted the CSN trio to recruit extra members to allow them to tour (since Stephen Stills had played almost all the instruments on their first album). They added session player Dallas Taylor
Dallas Taylor (drummer)
Dallas Woodrow Taylor Jr. was born in Denver, Colorado, 7 April 1948. He is a session drummer who has played on several rock records of the 1960s and 1970s...

 as their permanent drummer and bassist Greg Reeves
Greg Reeves
Greg Reeves is an American musician. He is best known for playing bass on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's Déjà Vu album in 1969.-Biography and career:...

, finally recruiting Stills' former Buffalo Spingfield bandmate Neil Young
Neil Young
Neil Percival Young, OC, OM is a Canadian singer-songwriter who is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of his generation...

. The new lineup reportedly spent several hundred hours in the studio recording their next album, Déjà Vu, which was released in March 1970 and became a huge hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard album chart (also reaching #1 in Australia and #5 in the UK) and generating three hit singles. It was soon followed by the protest single "Ohio
Ohio (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song)
"Ohio" is a protest song written and composed by Neil Young in reaction to the Kent State shootings of May 4, 1970, and performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. It was released as a single, backed with Stephen Stills's "Find the Cost of Freedom," peaking at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100...

" which was rush-released in May 1970 and became a Top 20 hit. All four members released their own albums over the next few months: Stills, Crosby and Nash released their debut solo albums on Atlantic during 1970-71, each featuring stellar supporting casts of backing musicians alongside the other members of CSNY. (Young's After The Goldrush came out on Atlantic's sister label Reprise Records
Reprise Records
Reprise Records is an American record label, founded in 1960 by Frank Sinatra. It is owned by Warner Music Group, and operated through Warner Bros. Records.-Beginnings:...

, to which Young had already signed as a solo artist). Stills' album was a major hit, reaching #3 (with the single "Love The One You're With" making #14 on the US singles chart); Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name
If I Could Only Remember My Name
-External links:*...

reached #14 (and has remained in print ever since) and Nash's Songs for Beginners
Songs for Beginners
Songs for Beginners is Graham Nash's first solo album, released in May 1971, and one of four high-profile albums released by each partner of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in the wake of their chart-topping Déjà Vu album of 1970...

reached #15, with the single "Chicago", reaching #35. In the meantime, Atlantic had released CSNY's second album, the 2LP live set 4 Way Street
4 Way Street
4 Way Street is the third album by Crosby, Stills & Nash, their second as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and their first live album. It was originally released as Atlantic Records SD-2-902, shipping as a gold record and peaking at #1 on the Billboard 200...

, which also went to #1 and earned a gold record award, but by the time it had reached the stores the group had already split. Despite this, Atlantic enjoyed continued success with the various members - Stills' next two LPs both made the US Top 10, as did Crosby and Nash's 1972 duo album. The group briefly reformed in 1974 for a hugely successful stadium tour, and although plans for a new album were scuppered by the band's legendary infighting, the hastily-compiled anthology So Far
So Far (album)
-Personnel:*David Crosby - vocals, guitar*Stephen Stills - vocals, bass, guitar, organ, piano, percussion*Graham Nash - vocals, guitar, organ, piano*Neil Young - vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano-Additional personnel:*Dallas Taylor - drums...

still managed to top the US album chart.

Concurrently, Led Zeppelin were becoming one of the biggest groups in the world, earning millions for Atlantic. Despite some early negative critical reactions, their 1969 debut album took off rapidly, going Top 10 in the US and the UK, where it remained on the charts for 73 weeks and 79 weeks respectively, and it was also a Top 10 album in both Spain and Australia. It has remained a consistently huge seller ever since, earning 8 platinum awards (8 million copies) for sales in the USA alone. Their second LP was even more successful, going to #1 in the USA, Canada, Britain, Australia and Spain and earning a Grammy nomination for Best Album. It too became a massive and enduring success, selling over 12 million copies in the USA.

Alongside the huge success of CSNY and Led Zeppelin, British band Yes
Yes (band)
Yes are an English rock band who achieved worldwide success with their progressive, art, and symphonic style of rock music. Regarded as one of the pioneers of the progressive genre, Yes are known for their lengthy songs, mystical lyrics, elaborate album art, and live stage sets...

 established themselves as one of the most significant acts in the burgeoning progressive rock
Progressive rock
Progressive rock is a subgenre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s as part of a "mostly British attempt to elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility." John Covach, in Contemporary Music Review, says that many thought it would not just "succeed the pop of...

 genre, and their success played a significant part in establishing the primacy of the long-playing album as the major sales format for rock music in the 1970s. After several lineup changes during 1969-70, the band settled into its "classic" '70s incarnation with guitarist Steve Howe
Steve Howe (guitarist)
Stephen James "Steve" Howe is an English guitarist, known for his work with the progressive rock group Yes...

 and keyboard player Rick Wakeman
Rick Wakeman
Richard Christopher Wakeman is an English keyboard player, composer and songwriter best known for being the former keyboardist in the progressive rock band Yes...

 during 1971. Although the extended length of much of their material made it somewhat difficult to promote the band with single releases, their albums were hugely successful - their third LP The Yes Album
The Yes Album
The Yes Album is the third studio album from the English progressive rock band Yes, released on Atlantic Records. It is the last record to feature keyboardist Tony Kaye until 1983, and the first to feature guitarist Steve Howe, who replaced Peter Banks in 1970...

(1971), which featured the debut of new guitarist Steve Howe
Steve Howe (guitarist)
Stephen James "Steve" Howe is an English guitarist, known for his work with the progressive rock group Yes...

, became their first big hit, reaching #4 in the UK and just scraping onto the chart in the US at #40. From this point, and notwithstanding the impact of the punk
Punk rock
Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock...

/New Wave
New Wave music
New Wave is a subgenre of :rock music that emerged in the mid to late 1970s alongside punk rock. The term at first generally was synonymous with punk rock before being considered a genre in its own right that incorporated aspects of electronic and experimental music, mod subculture, disco and 1960s...

 movement in the late 1970s, the band enjoyed an extraordinary run of success—beginning with Fragile
Fragile (Yes album)
Fragile is the fourth studio album from the English progressive rock band Yes, released on Atlantic Records. It is the first to feature keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who replaced Tony Kaye in 1971, and the first to feature cover art by Roger Dean, who would design many of the band's records.Upon its...

each of the eleven albums they released between 1971 and 1991 (including the lavishly-packaged live triple-album Yessongs
Yessongs
Yessongs is the first live album from the English progressive rock band Yes, released on Atlantic Records. The album is formed of recordings from their supporting world tours for their studio albums, Fragile and Close to the Edge, between February and December 1972...

) made the Top 20 in both the USA and the UK, and the double-LP Tales of Topographic Oceans (1973) and Going For The One
Going for the One
Going for the One is the eighth studio album from the English progressive rock band Yes, released in 1977 on Atlantic Records. It was produced after an extended break for solo activity from the group, and marks the return of keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who had departed in 1974 after the Tales from...

(1977) both reached #1 in the UK.

Atlantic (and the world) suffered an irreparable loss in February 1978 when a fire destroyed most of its tape archive, which had been stored in a non-air-conditioned warehouse in Long Branch, New Jersey
Long Branch, New Jersey
Long Branch is a city in Monmouth County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city population was 30,719.Long Branch was formed on April 11, 1867, as the Long Branch Commission, from portions of Ocean Township...

. Although (fortunately) the master tapes of the material in Atlantic's released back-catalog survived because they were stored in New York, the fire destroyed or damaged an estimated 5000-6000 reels of tape, including virtually all of the company's unreleased master tapes, alternate takes, rehearsal tapes and session multi-tracks recorded between 1948 and 1969. Atlantic was one of the first labels to record in stereo, and many of the tapes that were lost were stereo 'alternates' recorded in the late 1940s and 1950s (which Atlantic routinely taped simultaneously with the mono versions until the 1960s) as well almost all of the 8-track multitrack masters recorded by Tom Dowd in the 1950s and 1960s. According to Billboard journalist Bill Holland, news of the fire was kept quiet, and one Atlantic staffer who spoke to Holland reported that he did not find out about it until a year later. Fortunately, reissue producers and archivists subsequently located some tapes that were at first presumed 'lost', but which had survived because they had evidently been removed from the New Jersey archive years earlier and not returned. During the compilation of the Rhino-Atlantic John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John William Coltrane was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes in jazz and later was at the forefront of free jazz...

 boxed set, producer Joel Dorn
Joel Dorn
Joel Dorn was an American jazz and R&B music producer and record label entrepreneur. He worked at Atlantic Records, and later founded the 32 Jazz, Label M, and Hyena Records labels...

 located supposedly destroyed outtakes from Coltrane's seminal 1959 album Giant Steps
Giant Steps
-Personnel:* John Coltrane — tenor saxophone* Tommy Flanagan — piano* Wynton Kelly — piano on "Naima"* Paul Chambers — bass* Art Taylor — drums* Jimmy Cobb — drums on "Naima"* Cedar Walton — piano on "Giant Steps' and Naima" alternate versions...

, plus other treasures including Bobby Darin
Bobby Darin
Bobby Darin , born Walden Robert Cassotto, was an American singer, actor and musician.Darin performed in a range of music genres, including pop, rock, jazz, folk and country...

's original Atco demo of "Dream Lover
Dream Lover
"Dream Lover" is a song written and recorded by Bobby Darin on March 5, 1959. It was produced by Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler and engineered by Tom Dowd. It is considered a soulful rock song. The song became a multi-million seller, reaching #2 in US charts and was #1 in UK for three weeks during...

" (with Fred Neil
Fred Neil
Fred Neil was an American folk singer-songwriter in the 1960s and early 1970s. He did not achieve commercial success as a performer, and is mainly known through other people's recordings of his material – particularly "Everybody's Talkin'", which became a hit for Harry Nilsson after being...

 playing guitar); Atlantic archivists have since rediscovered other 'lost' material including unreleased masters, alternate takes and rehearsal tapes by Ray Charles, Van "Piano Man" Walls, Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman is an American saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter and composer. He was one of the major innovators of the free jazz movement of the 1960s....

, Lennie Tristano
Lennie Tristano
Leonard Joseph Tristano was a jazz pianist, composer and teacher of jazz improvisation. He performed in the cool jazz, bebop, post bop and avant-garde jazz genres. He remains a somewhat overlooked figure in jazz history, but his enormous originality and dazzling work as an improviser have long...

 and Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz is an American jazz composer and alto saxophonist born in Chicago, Illinois.Generally considered one of the driving forces of Cool Jazz, Konitz has also performed successfully in bebop and avant-garde settings...

.

In May 1988, the label held a 40th Anniversary concert
Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary
On 14 May 1988 the Atlantic Records label held its 40th Anniversary Celebration by staging a non-stop concert lasting almost 13 hours at Madison Square Garden, New York. The event was dubbed "It's Only Rock And Roll"....

, broadcast on HBO. This concert, which was almost 13 hours in length, featured performances by a large number of their artists and included reunions of some rock legends like Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin were an English rock band, active in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Formed in 1968, they consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham...

 and Crosby, Stills, and Nash (being David Crosby
David Crosby
David Van Cortlandt Crosby is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. In addition to his solo career, he was a founding member of three bands: The Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash , and CPR...

's first full band performance since being released from prison).

Merger with Time Inc.

Warner Communications merged with Time Inc. (owners of the aforementioned HBO) in 1990, forming Time Warner
Time Warner
Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...

. That same year, Jimmy Iovine
Jimmy Iovine
James "Jimmy" Iovine is an American music producer, entrepreneur and chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M.-Biography:...

 founded Interscope Records
Interscope Records
Interscope Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group that currently operates as one third of UMG's Interscope-Geffen-A&M label group.-History:...

, which Atlantic owned a 50% stake in. Interscope released notable gangsta rap
Gangsta rap
Gangsta Rap is a subgenre of hip hop music that evolved from hardcore hip hop and purports to reflect urban crime and the violent lifestyles of inner-city youths. Lyrics in gangsta rap have varied from accurate reflections to fictionalized accounts. Gangsta is a non-rhotic pronunciation of the word...

 titles — many in conjunction with Death Row Records
Death Row Records
Death Row Records is a record label founded in 1991 by Marion "Suge" Knight Jr., Andre Young , Tracy Lynn Curry and Michael Harris . It is known to have been home to many popular West Coast hip hop artists such as Dr...

. Pressure from activist groups opposed to gangsta rap, however, later led to parent company Time Warner's decision to sell Atlantic's stake in the label to MCA
MCA Records
MCA Records was an American-based record company owned by MCA Inc., which later gave way to the larger MCA Music Entertainment Group , of which MCA Records was still part. MCA Records was absorbed by Geffen Records in 2003...

 in 1995.

Closure of Nashville division

A country music
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 division, which was founded in the 1980s, was closed in 2001. This branch included acts such as Neal McCoy
Neal McCoy
Hubert Neal McGaughey, Jr. is an American country music singer of mixed Irish and Filipino descent. Known professionally as Neal McCoy, he has released ten studio albums on various labels, and has released 34 singles to country radio...

, Tracy Lawrence
Tracy Lawrence
Tracy Lawrence is an American country music artist. He started at a country music restaurant called "Live At Libby's" where owner Libby Knight would help local talent find their way into country music...

 and John Michael Montgomery
John Michael Montgomery
John Michael Montgomery is an American country music artist. He has produced more than thirty singles on the Billboard country charts, including two of Billboard’s Number One country singles of the year: "I Swear" and "Sold "...

, all of whom were transferred to Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

' Nashville division. The Atlantic Nashville division was revived in 2008 with Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown Band is an American country music, southern rock, and folk band based in Atlanta, Georgia. The lineup consists of Zac Brown , Jimmy De Martini , John Driskell Hopkins , Coy Bowles , Chris Fryar and Clay Cook...

 and Jesse Lee
Jesse Lee (singer)
Jesse Lee is an American country music singer. Signed to Atlantic Nashville in 2007, she released her debut single "It's a Girl Thing" in 2009, which debuted on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart dated for June 6, 2009. A second single, "Like My Mother Does," was released in 2010, which failed...

 being signed to it.

Elektra absorption

Time Warner sold Warner Music Group to a group of investors for $2.6 billion in late 2003. The deal closed in early 2004, consolidating Elektra Records
Elektra Records
Elektra Records is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group. In 2004, it was consolidated into WMG's Atlantic Records Group. After five years of dormancy, the label was revived by Atlantic in 2009....

 and Atlantic into one label operated in the eastern United States
Eastern United States
The Eastern United States, the American East, or simply the East is traditionally defined as the states east of the Mississippi River. The first two tiers of states west of the Mississippi have traditionally been considered part of the West, but can be included in the East today; usually in...

.

"You're Pitiful" dispute

In 2006, the label denied "Weird Al" Yankovic
"Weird Al" Yankovic
Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic is an American singer-songwriter, music producer, accordionist, actor, comedian, writer, satirist, and parodist. Yankovic is known for his humorous songs that make light of popular culture and that often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts...

 permission to release "You're Pitiful
You're Pitiful
"You're Pitiful" is a parody of "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt written and recorded by American parody musician "Weird Al" Yankovic. It was released exclusively online in June 2006...

", a parody
Parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

 of James Blunt
James Blunt
James Hillier Blount , better known by his stage name James Blunt, is an English singer-songwriter and musician, and former army officer, whose debut album, Back to Bedlam and single releases, including "You're Beautiful" and "Goodbye My Lover", brought him to fame in 2005...

's "You're Beautiful", despite Blunt's own approval of the song. Atlantic said that it was too early in Blunt's career, and that they did not want Blunt to become a one-hit wonder
One-hit wonder
A one-hit wonder is a person or act known mainly for only a single success. The term is most often used to describe music performers with only one hit single.-Characteristics:...

. Although Yankovic could have legally gone ahead with the parody anyway, his record label, Volcano Entertainment, thought that it was best not to "go to war" with Atlantic. The parody was released onto the Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 as a free download. Later he recorded two more parodies, "White & Nerdy
White & Nerdy
"White & Nerdy" is the second single from "Weird Al" Yankovic's album Straight Outta Lynwood, which was released on September 26, 2006. It parodies the song "Ridin'" by Chamillionaire and Krayzie Bone...

", and "Do I Creep You Out
Do I Creep You Out
"Do I Creep You Out" is a parody by "Weird Al" Yankovic of Taylor Hicks' "Do I Make You Proud". It tells the story of a stalker who is singing to his object of affection.-Music video:...

", to replace "You're Pitiful". The music video
Music video
A music video or song video is a short film integrating a song and imagery, produced for promotional or artistic purposes. Modern music videos are primarily made and used as a marketing device intended to promote the sale of music recordings...

 for "White & Nerdy" depicts Weird Al vandalizing the Wikipedia
Wikipedia
Wikipedia is a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 20 million articles have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site,...

 article for Atlantic Records, replacing the whole page with "YOU SUCK!" in excessively large type (which spawned copycat vandalism
Vandalism
Vandalism is the behaviour attributed originally to the Vandals, by the Romans, in respect of culture: ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable...

 of the article).

60 years

In 2007, the label celebrated its 60th anniversary with the May 2 PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

 broadcast of the American Masters
American Masters
American Masters is a PBS television show which produces biographies on the artists, actors and writers of the United States who have left a profound impact on the nation's popular culture. It is produced by WNET in New York City...

documentary Atlantic Records: The House that Ahmet Built and the simultaneous Starbucks
Starbucks
Starbucks Corporation is an international coffee and coffeehouse chain based in Seattle, Washington. Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world, with 17,009 stores in 55 countries, including over 11,000 in the United States, over 1,000 in Canada, over 700 in the United Kingdom, and...

 CD release of Atlantic 60th Anniversary: R&B Classics Chosen By Ahmet Ertegun.

That year also saw Atlantic reach a milestone for major record labels: "More than half of its music sales in the United States are now from digital products
Digital media
Digital media is a form of electronic media where data is stored in digital form. It can refer to the technical aspect of storage and transmission Digital media is a form of electronic media where data is stored in digital (as opposed to analog) form. It can refer to the technical aspect of...

, like downloads on iTunes
ITunes
iTunes is a media player computer program, used for playing, downloading, and organizing digital music and video files on desktop computers. It can also manage contents on iPod, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad....

 and ring tones for cellphones", doing so "without seeing as steep of a decline in Compact Disc
Compact Disc
The Compact Disc is an optical disc used to store digital data. It was originally developed to store and playback sound recordings exclusively, but later expanded to encompass data storage , write-once audio and data storage , rewritable media , Video Compact Discs , Super Video Compact Discs ,...

 sales as the rest of the industry."

Notable sublabels

  • Big Beat Records
  • Big Tree Records
    Big Tree Records
    Big Tree Records was a record label founded by current Sony Music Entertainment chairman Doug Morris in 1970. They were best known for releases by Lobo, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Brownsville Station and British R&B group Hot Chocolate....

  • Cotillion Records
    Cotillion Records
    Cotillion Records was a subsidiary of Atlantic Records and was active from 1968 through 1985. The label was originally formed as an outlet for blues and deep Southern soul; its first single, Otis Clay's version of "She's About A Mover", reached the R&B charts. Cotillion's catalog quickly expanded...

  • Eardrum Records
    Eardrum Records
    Eardrum Records is a record label owned by American comedian and actor George Carlin. Carlin formed the label in 1986 after buying out Little David Records, the comedy label that previously released his material....

  • First Priority Music
    First Priority Music
    First Priority Music was an American hip hop record label of the late 1980s and early 1990s, which has diversified and found success in recent years with releases in contemporary R&B and country music genres, among others. A small independent, it formed successful distribution relationships, first...

  • Grand Hustle Records
    Grand Hustle Records
    Grand Hustle Records is an Atlanta, Georgia-based record label formed in 2003 by Clifford "T.I." Harris and Jason Geter. Today it operates as a subsidiary of Warner Music Group, and is distributed by Atlantic Records.-Artists:*P$C...

  • LaSalle Records
    LaSalle Records
    LaSalle Records is an American record label and a division of Atlantic Records.- History :The record label was founded in 2004 and was owned by musician Travis Barker. The label is located in Corona, California...

  • Roc Nation
    Roc Nation
    Roc Nation is an American management, music publishing and entertainment company founded by Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter.-History:In April 2008, Live Nation partnered with Jay-Z to create Roc Nation...

     *(As Artist's Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3 music videos on youtube.com are played and owned by Atlantic Records,and are not on Universal Music's VEVO Website,Roc Nation is partially a sub-label of Atlantic Records)
  • Stone Flower Records
  • TAG Recordings
    TAG Recordings
    TAG Recordings was an imprint of Atlantic Records started in 1996. TAG had been intended to host Atlantic's stable of alternative rock artists and capitalize on the wild popularity of alternative and grunge rock at that time. The label handled artists such as Fountains of Wayne, The Inbreds, and...


Artists

External links

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