R.I.P. Miriam Bienstock, co-founder of Atlantic Records

Farewell, Miriam Bienstock (nee Abramson), co-founder of The Atlantic Recording Corporation. Many collectors of music and industry veterans may remember Mrs. Bienstock. She passed away on March 21st at the age of 92.

A Brooklyn native who graduated from both Erasmus High School and Brooklyn College, Miriam - with her then-husband, Herb Abramson (who had the National label), and friend/colleague Ahmet Ertegun - launched Atlantic Records in 1947. She and Herb invested $2,500.00 dollars into the company.

Farewell, Miriam Bienstock (nee Abramson), co-founder of The Atlantic Recording Corporation. Many collectors of music and industry veterans may remember Mrs. Bienstock. She passed away on March 21st at the age of 92.

A Brooklyn native who graduated from both Erasmus High School and Brooklyn College, Miriam - with her then-husband, Herb Abramson (who had the National label), and friend/colleague Ahmet Ertegun - launched Atlantic Records in 1947. She and Herb invested $2,500.00 dollars into the company.

While Ahmet signed artists and Herb produced the sessions, Miriam was in charge of operations. According to the obituary published in the New York Times, her duties included moving the office chairs out of the way to make room for the artists and recording equipment in the company’s first office; arranging for the designing and printing of the record jackets; receiving the finished records and carrying them upstairs; repacking the records for shipment to distributors and record stores; and, not incidentally, collecting payments, keeping the books and paying the artists.

In later years, Mr. Ertegun credited Miriam for keeping the company focused and disciplined in its goal to bring R&B, jazz and rock music to the masses during the label's early years. He had said that without her guidance, Atlantic Records would have folded.

Miriam remained with Atlantic Records as vice-president and then ran their publishing division (Progressive Music) for several years - even while she and Herb Abramson had divorced in the mid-1950's (he left Atlantic by 1960 and Miriam acquired his interest in the label). Miriam later remarried music publisher Freddy Bienstock (he owned Hill & Range Music and was Elvis Presley's song scout) and then sold her interest in Atlantic Records by 1964. By that time, the company had Ahmet as president with brother Nesuhi and Jerry Wexler as partners.

In later years, the Bienstocks acquired Chappell Music and then sold that company - along with Hill & Range Music - to Warner Brothers, who then named the publishing division Warner/Chappell Music. Miriam and Freddy then launched Carlin America Music Publishing.

Prior to her death, Mrs. Bienstock became a theater producer and entertainment investor. Miriam was the backer of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, "Beautiful: The Carole King Story". She leaves a son (Robert), daughter (Caroline) and eight grandchildren.

Click the link to check out this great interview Mrs. Bienstock had given in 2012, where she discussed how Atlantic Records was formed. Thank you, Miriam, for bringing great music to the masses along with Herb, Ahmet, Jerry and Nesuhi. https://www.namm.org/library/oral-history/miriam-bienstock

By Kevin Goins

 
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