Turkish Delight: Style Icon Ahmet Ertegun


This weekend a political coup was attempted in Turkey, leaving many dead and the country in turmoil. In the interest of levity, Ivy Style presents the style icon Ahmet Ertegun.

Ertegun (above left) was the cofounder of Atlantic Records and is responsible for helping launching the careers of Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and countless other acts from the early days of rhythm and blues and rock ‘n roll. He was from a prominent Turkish family, the son of an ambassador, and attended Georgetown University.

Ertegun was noted for being exceptionally well dressed by George Frazier in his epic Esquire article “The Art Of Wearing Clothes,” and by Alan Flusser in his books. During the heyday of the Ivy League Look, Ertegun wore buttondowns, sack suits and rep ties, and when it went out of fashion, moved on to other styles along with the rest.

In the 2004 Ray Charles biopic “Ray,” Ertegun was portrayed by actor Curtis Armstrong (“Risky Business,” “Revenge Of The Nerds,” “Moonlighting”). Here’s a fun scene from the movie that dramatizes Charles’ first time in the recording studio, performing a rock-and-(collar)-roll tune Ertegun wrote himself:

Later in life Ertegun was an avid philanthropist and served as the chairman of the American Turkish Society for over 20 years. — CC


Ahmet Ertegun at the Lenox Lounge in Harlem, 1997. (Norma Jean Roy, courtesy of Atlantic Records Archive)


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: Photo of Bert BERNS and Ahmet ERTEGUN; L-R: ?, Bert Berns, ?, Ahmet Ertegun (founder of Atlantic Records) posed, (Photo by Charlie Gillett Collection/Redferns)

7 Comments on "Turkish Delight: Style Icon Ahmet Ertegun"

  1. George Frazier also noted Ertegun bought $100 suits at J.Press and had them tailored by his man at the Algonquin Hotel.

  2. Dutch Uncle | July 18, 2016 at 2:47 pm |

    Some more details (and a great photo at the bottom):


  3. Seems like there was a sui generis ratf***ing going on in Asia Minor. I’ll always remember John Candy’s interpretation of Ahmet’s “Mess Around” in PT&Autos.

  4. James Redhouse | July 19, 2016 at 12:02 am |


    I had always thought it had been written by Nuggy.
    Thanks to you, I found this:

    “Mess Around”, written by Atlantic Records president and founder Ahmet Ertegün under the pseudonym of A. Nugetre,or “Nuggy” was one of Ray Charles’ first hits.”

  5. Bags' Groove | July 19, 2016 at 1:52 pm |

    Ahmet’s equally-dapper brother Nesuhi was the cat I came to love, because he was responsible for signing my man Bags, the MJQ, and many more. Atlantic, along with Blue Note, Riverside and CBS, were the great American labels of my great American modern jazz heroes. They all, in their various ways, changed my life. But I can’t leave out that magnificent European upstart ECM, who today record most of those precious few heroes who remain.

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