James Leroy Wilson's blog

Friday, December 15, 2006

Two Great Men Pass

Lamar Hunt was the son of a wealthy oilman. Ahmet Ertegun was the son of a Turkish diplomat. They sound like ne'er-do-well playboys, suspects in an Agatha Christie mystery. But they were not.

After watching The Aviator, I came away quite impressed with Howard Hughes. The son of wealth and privilege, with character flaws and mental illness, he nevertheless dreamt big and took huge risks. And Hunt and Ertegun did the same, and were very influential in the development of contemporary culture.

Hunt, who died on the 13th, founded the American Football League, the Kansas City Chiefs, two major-league soccer leagues, and the modern pro tennis circuit. He owned an NHL franchise, two theme parks, several soccer teams, and was part-owner of the Chicago Bulls. He coined the name "Super Bowl" and orchestrated the merger of the AFL into the NFL. The AFC Championship is named after him. The U.S. Soccer Federation's championship is the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Ertegun, who died today, was the founder of Atlantic Records. In the 1940's and early 1950's, he recorded rock & roll music before there was rock & roll music. Atlantic became the most successful once-independent record label for which Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, CSN&Y, and several other blockbuster acts recorded. He was the giant of giants in the music industry.

Neither Hunt or Ertegun were the most important figures in their fields, but they were certainly in the top four or five. The important thing is, they made the most out of their life.

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