Herb Abramson Dies

Herb Abramson

Atlantic's First President
dies at 82

By Adam White

This article appeared in Billboard magazine recently and was contributed by Harriet Wasser.


Herb Abramson, whose deep passion for blues, jazz, and gospel music was shared with Ahmet Ertegun and so led the two men to form Atlantic Records a half century ago , has died at age 82.

"Herb had the music business experience we needed, "says Ertegun, co-chairman /co CEO of the Atlantic group. "All I knew was the music."

Abramson passed away Nov.9 at St. Rose Dominican Hospital in Henderson, Nev. Cause of death is unknown. His health had been fragile , and he was in a wheelchair when he accepted a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in February 1998. "But he seemed to be in good spirits that evening," says Ertegun.

Born Nov. 16, 1916, Abramson grew up in New York and after World War II he became part-time A&R man for a pioneering independent in R&B, Al Green's National records. "He was going to college (at New York University, studying dentistry), but he ran the (National) sessions and recorded people like the Ravens, Billy Eckstine and Joe Turner," said Ertegun.

" We started Atlantic records. I got Herb to leave National, where he was paid a meager salary," says Ertegun. With Abramson as president and Ertegun as co-president , the fledgling label at first issued jazz records from it's cramped headquarters at New York's Jefferson Hotel.

"Herb was a very good man in the studio," says Ertegun. "We worked well together. Herb knew all the intricacies of the independent record business."

Another key factor during Atlantic's youth was Abramson's wife Miriam. She administered the company and by Ertegun's account was important in keeping it organized and disciplined. When Herb returned from Army service in 1955, he supervised Atlantic's new Atco label, with the Coasters and Bobby Darin on the roaster--and on the Billboard charts. His absence and his divorce from Miriam had made things difficult, so he eventually surrendered his Atlantic stake.

Abramson went on to launch several labels in the 1960's including Triumph, Blaze and Festival. He also wrote and produced Tommy Tucker's "High Heeled Sneakers" a hit in 1964.

Abramson is survived by wife Barbara, sons Robert Beinstock and Michael Abramson, daughter Sheila Abramson Chadwick and five grandchildren.

NOTE: Mr. Abramson produced several Bobby Darin albums at Atco, including :"Bobby Darin "(Atco 33-102 ),"That's All"(Atco 33-104),"This Is Darin" (Atco 33-146) "Darin At The Copa" (Atco 33-122),and "Winners" (Atco 33-167).

Back to BobbyDarin.net