American Masters (1985– )
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Atlantic Records: The House That Ahmet Built 

Ahmet Ertegun created a new genre of music that combined the African-American music of 1940s Washington, D.C., with the European sensibility.


Susan Steinberg


Susan Steinberg


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Episode credited cast:
Ahmet Ertegun ... Himself
Bette Midler ... Herself - Narrator
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ruth Brown Ruth Brown ... Herself (archive footage)
Ray Charles ... Himself
Eric Clapton ... Himself
Lyor Cohen ... Himself
Phil Collins ... Himself
Nesuhi Ertegün Nesuhi Ertegün ... Himself (archive footage)
Aretha Franklin ... Herself
David Geffen ... Himself
Mick Jagger ... Himself
Kid Rock ... Himself
Jimmy Page ... Himself
Robert Plant ... Himself
Otis Redding ... Himself (archive footage)


Ahmet Ertegun created a new genre of music that combined the African-American music of 1940s Washington, D.C., with the European sensibility.

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Release Date:

2 May 2007 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera). See more »


Near the end, Bette Midler narrates, "In the 1980s, Atlantic was a different place," and shows Ahmet Ertegun entering the Atlantic Records offices. A Time Warner logo can be seen clearly on one of the walls. Time Warner was formed in 1990 with the merger of Warner Communications Inc. and Time Warner. See more »

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User Reviews

The House That Ahmet Built is one of the most essential docs of music history
19 May 2007 | by tavmSee all my reviews

This American Masters episode showcases the wonderful influence of Ahmet Ertegun, the founder of Atlantic Records. Since the label's founding in 1947, some of the most popular Rhythm and Blues and Rock 'n' Roll artists have worked for Atlantic. Among them: first artist Ruth Brown, Big Joe Turner, Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, The Coasters, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, Phil Collins and many more. Also covered are many of the Atlantic crew like engineer Tom Dowd, producer Jerry Wexler, and songwriters Mike Lieber and Jerry Stoller. Mostly, this two hour documentary covers Ahmet's life from his childhood in Turkey to his moving to the United States as a teenager when he experienced some of the most happening sounds of Harlem to his discoveries of some of the greatest musicians the world has ever known. Atlantic artist Bette Midler narrates this loving look at her boss that manages to capture Ertegun's essence just before he died after falling backstage at a Rolling Stones concert last December. Well worth seeking out for anyone interested in the history of Rock 'n' Roll.

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