Apparently, the news of a bachelor Ambassador’s appointment to Washington, D.C. surprised a lot of people. “I’ll never forget the moment Nabi called,” says Gülgün. “He was calling from Vienna in Austria, I was at my aunt’s summer house in Çesme, near Izmir, sitting by the pool. When he said, “It’s Washington!” all I could say was “Congratulations” and “Best of luck.” After numerous phone calls and a number of trips between Ankara and Izmir, “He finally said, ‘I have to discuss something with you.’ And I knew what it was.”
“I never even came close to marrying before,” he said, “until I met Gülgün. I feel I want to spend the rest of my life with her.”
Ahmet Ertegün: Ambassador’s Son and Atlantic Record Founder
Wherever Turkish Ambassador Ertegün and his family lived, there was always music at home. When they moved to this segregated city in 1936, his two sons Ahmet and Nasuhi, already had a record collection of 25,000 blues and jazz records. But it was their live Sunday music salons with young Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington performing to integrated audiences that shocked Washington’s elite.
Attending prep school during the day, Ahmet and his older brother frequented Washington’s musical haunts by night like the Howard Theater. When their father died in 1944, they both decided to stay in America and pursue musical careers; Nasuhi chose Los Angeles and Ahmet, Washington. With partner Herb Abramson, Ahmet launched Atlantic Records on a $10,000 loan from his Turkish dentist Vahdi Sabit and the rest is history: recording some of the greatest African-American musicians and changing music forever. He began with Big Joe Turner, Ruth Brown and Ray Charles; discovered Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding; branched out to Bobby Darin, Sonny and Cher, the Bee Gees, Bette Midler, the Allman Brothers; signed the Rolling Stones and most recently, Frank Zappa and Kid Rock.
In October 2006, Ahmet fell backstage during the Rolling Stones’ New York concert and went into a coma. He passed away on December 14, 2006, at the age of 83.