Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Flip Side of Ahmet Ertegun

Because a lot of my work involves recovering royalties for artists, it will probably come as no surprise, I had a much harder time than most people reconciling what Ahmet Ertegun accomplished with what he knew was being done to artists with his full complicity. I particularly hated that I had to essentially beg him to make Atlantic pay benefit contributions to AFTRA for LaVern Baker after her stroke to keep her coverage active.

This is my best Ahmet story:

In 1995, I attended the R&B Foundation Pioneer Awards dinner in Los Angeles. As luck would have it, I was seated between Sam Moore of Sam & Dave and Charlie Thomas of the Drifters. Across from us was Ahmet.

Charlie was telling us that he never knew the Drifters’ “White Christmas” was used in “Home Alone” until he went to see the movie, and that he never saw a dime of the license fee. I told him and Sam to look under the table at Ahmet’s feet. They both ducked under the tablecloth. Ahmet, of course was wearing some gorgeous custon made slip-ons.

“See those shoes, Charlie?” I said. “There’s your “White Christmas” money.”

They started laughing while their heads were still under the table. It caught Ahmet’s attention. Sam looked at him across the table and said “Omelette, Charlie wants his shoes.” Ahmet had no idea what he was talking about, and Charlie and Sam collapsed again in laughter.

During the evening, Sam tells the story of Charlie’s shoes to Junior Walker and Lloyd Price. Both of them tell Ahmet that Charlie wants his shoes. By the end of the night he is completely befuddled by the people coming up and telling him that Charlie wants his shoes.

A couple months later, I had to call him to get another contribution made for Lavern. He wouldn’t agree until I told him what the business was about Charlie’s shoes. I told him. He didn’t think it was funny.

Ahmet Ertegun was a colossus of 20th Century music history. There can be no doubt of that. However, from the perspective of those artists who found themselves periodically underneath his very expensive bootheels waiting for a royalty payment, his stature and reputation had a real cost. Sadly for everyone, his death diminishes our world without rectifying the problems he helped create.

FRED WILHELMS is a lawyer who represents musicians and songwriters. He can be reached at: fred.wilhelms@gmail.com

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail