Ahmet Ertegun and the Times of The Halikarnas Disco

Right up until the Seventies, Bodrum was a quiet Aegean sea fishing village of just 3000 people. Until that most decadent of decades, Bodrum’s most high-profile, celebrity visitor had been Hayreddin Barbarossa, the badass, buccaneering admiral of the Ottoman fleet whose uncompromising and violent seafaring ways ensured domination of the most coveted naval trade routes during a large period of the 16th century. Three hundred years later, another type of buccaneer arrived in Bodrum and changed its social profile for ever.

With his beautiful wife Mica, Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records, born in Turkey but resident in New York and quite possibly the best connected man in rock’n’roll history with a Rolodex of friends and work associates that spanned (over six decades) Mick Jagger to Kid Rock, Andy Warhol to Bette Midler, Louis Armstrong to Led Zeppelin, built a holiday home in Bodrum. They used ancient stones from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, filling the house with works by Matisse, Magritte, Hockney and Picasso and with the famous people that the press dubbed “the cat pack”. Ertegun preferred to playfully refer to his guests as “some very nice jerks”

 

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Ahmet Ertegun's House in Bodrum

 

In their summer “konak” (the former tenants had run the house as discothèque – oh, the irony) the Erteguns lived like a pashas and entertained like a sultans; 10 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, a brace of boats for cruising the clear blue waters of the twinkling bays, a staff of 20 and guests that included Mick Jagger and Princess Margaret. In a grand stroke of flamboyant, jet-set largesse, Ertegun had successfully re-invented Bodrum as Turkey’s St Tropez, an Aegean Ibiza. It was all, “too, too divine” as Mica liked to say.

Ertegun died in 2006 aged 83 but his house – pretty, modestly fronted, in the thick of the action but, of course, bereft of Mick and Bianca and the wild Seventies partying these days – is something of landmark on the shore road of now bustling Bodrum. Catch a cab down town to the local super club however, and Ertegun and Jagger’s gregarious spirit lives on at the dancefloor and VIP areas at the Halikarnas nightclub.

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Mick Jagger and Süleyman Demir (Owner and founder of Halikarnas Disco)

The Halikarnas Disco whirl began in 1979. Ertegun entertained house guests Princess Margaret, Bette Midler and Dustin Hoffman and Mick Jagger in the open air VIP area over looking the port. Sting, Michael Caine, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino and Claudia Schiffer would follow in years to come.