Led Zeppelin reunion: Who was Ahmet Ertegun?

The story of the man behind Led Zeppelin reformation gig

Led Zeppelin‘s concert at the O2 on November 26 in London is due to raise funds for a charity formed by Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun.

Ertegun founded the Atlantic label in 1947, helping to bring the gritty R&B of Ray Charles and the classic soul of Aretha Franklin to promience.

He was also very isntrumental in signing and helping British bands The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppellin become stars in the US.


Ertegun’s association with Led Zeppelin in particular goes back to the earliest days, hearing the band’s demo and signed them to his label.

Folklore has it that he knew the songs on the demo would be massive hits the first time he heard them.

When he passed away aged 83 on December 14 2006, Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant was the first to pay tribute to him.

Plant said: “Ahmet (was) gifted beyond all belief- the way he moved from his origins, pushing against the grain into the bohemia of Stick McGhee and Joe Turner.

“I must have met him on Led Zeppelin’s first US tour…Ahmet was always backstage with an entourage of folk, this melange of people from all walks of life. He’d have Henry Kissinger or a princess from some deposed royal family from Eastern Europe.

“He told me years ago, ‘I gotta buy the company back.’ And I said, ‘You do. You gotta get it back quick.’ But had he got it back, who knows? You can’t keep abreast of the way things have gone. You have to be part of the next generation. He had already managed to do that through three generations, which is phenomenal.”