Friday, December 15, 2006

Deaths In The Label Industry

A few big names in music just died.

First, Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic, one of the great labels. Atlantic recorded many of the greatest R&B acts. Ray Charles did a lot of his best work there (Ertegun is a character in Ray). Soul Sister Aretha Franklin was from Detroit, but somehow Atlantic got to her before Motown.

Ertegun later signed some of the best rock acts, such as Cream, CSNY, Led Zeppelin and above all, The Rolling Stones. He also had more poppy acts, like Sonny And Cher, Bobby Darin, Bette Midler and Abba.

He was involved till the end, dying from complications after he slipped and hurt his head at a Rolling Stones concert. I believe Frank Zappa named his son Ahmet (obviously) after him.

Then there's Fred Marsden. The tougher bands that followed The Beatles, such as The Stone and The Who, are remembered today, but a bunch of acts like Herman's Hermits and The Dave Clark Five ruled the charts in the early days of the British invasion. One of the best of these softer bands were Gerry And The Pacemakers. Gerry was Gerry Marsden (now old enough for a pacemaker). Brother Fred played drums.

Brian Epstein famously signed The Beatles and made Liverpool the center of a musical revolution. The second band he signed was the Pacemakers. Producer Geroge Martin wanted the B eatles to record other people's tunes--that's how it was done. The first song he gave them was "How Do You Do It?" The band recorded a version, but begged to have their own song released. Martin agreed--how could he not with a single as good as "Please Please Me"

So who got to record the song? Gerry And The Pacemakers, of course. And guess what, it went to #1 ("Please Please Me" only hit #2).

They also had hits with quieter numbers like "Ferry Cross The Mersey" and "Dont Let The Sun Catch You Crying." And then there's one of my favorite records from the entire era--"I Like It." I still play it when I need a shot of energy.

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