Ahmet Ertegun and Lamar Hunt | Adding spice, foreign and domestic, to American soccer

Ertegün earned his undergraduate degree at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, a unique American college based on a great-books curriculum in literature, philosophy, theology, political science and history. Three years later, in 1947, with $10,000 in start-up capital Ertegün created Atlantic Records and would cultivate his early exposure to jazz and gospel music through the business, signing artists such as Ruth Brown, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and, later, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

His founding of the Cosmos, partnering with brother Nesuhi, had origins in the label’s acquisition by Warner Communications. According to the account in Once in a Lifetime, Nesuhi remained in the fold only after convincing Warner CEO Steve Ross to invest in a New York NASL franchise that would become Cosmos.

Pareles in his New York Times appreciation emphasizes that an interfaith coalition of the Muslim Ertegün, African American musicians rooted in the church and Jewish producers helped forge a new direction in American popular music. A similarly offbeat blending of these members of the Turkish diaspora, glad-handing American moguls, an iconic Brazilian (Pelé) and elite European footballing talent created a media burst that for a period made North American soccer palatable for mass consumption.

But beyond such flash, Hunt’s and Ertegün’s connections to a wider world facilitated the humble gift of a kicking game.

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2 comments on this post.
  1. Karsten:

    Turks can be proud of those two brothers, who did a lot for African American society in the U.S. Maybe that was so much like Martin Luther King did. That soccer thing should be seen more as fun.

  2. The Global Game | Islands | America’s internationalists have ‘a vague idea’ of Cuban life:

    [...] to the island since 1959. Cosmos president Clive Toye, making connections through Lamar Hunt (see 20 Dec 06) and George H. W. Bush, helped arrange a Cosmos trip to Beijing and Shanghai in 1977 and also [...]

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