BIRMINGHAM RECORD COLLECTORS
DEDICATED TO THE COLLECTING OF MUSIC, ITS PRESERVATION, AND LASTING FRIENDSHIP
MONTHLY MEETING THIS SUNDAY, MARCH 11th 2018
2:00 PM HOMEWOOD LIBRARY – 1721 OXMOOR ROAD 35209
NEXT MEETING SUNDAY, APRIL 8th, 2018 THE SECOND SUNDAY
THIS MONTH’S MEETING
Thanks to our guest speaker last month, Lathan Hudson. Lathan had lots of good stories and memories to pass along to us and I’m sure there’s plenty more where those came from. Congrats to Lathan for a very successful career in the music industry.
There is a cable channel called AXSTV that is for the music fan. They show concerts, classic and new, have interviews and much more. One show they have is called, Classic Albums. They try and find anyone who was there for the recording such as the artist, the producer, the engineer, other musicians and singers. One of those was about the recording of Elvis’ first LP. We will be playing that show at our meeting this Sunday. Hope you can make it.
WHAT’S IN A LABEL
I was reading another newsletter dedicated to music recently and came across a trivia section which included a note about the start-up of a new record label in 1961 called Reprise. It made me wonder about the history of other labels so I did some checking. Here is what I found.
The Reprise lable was started on February 13, 1961 by none other than Frank Sinatra. It is said he launced the new label to allow him more freedom in his own recordings. As owner and president of the company he became known as ‘The Chairman of the Board’. He sold all but 20% interest of the label to Warner in 1963 because the label was losing money. During the two year run as sole owner the major artists included Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Jo Stafford, and Nancy Sinatra. Nancy didn’t have a hit on the label until 1965, two years after her dad sold to WB. Some say Frank vowed to never sign a rock star. It was after he sold the label that artists such as Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, Dino, Desi, and Billy, Neil Young, The Electric Prunes and many more from the rock genre came aboard.
In October 1947, Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson founded Atlantic Records. Ertegun’s father had been the Turkish Ambassador to the US and when his dad died he and his brother decided to stay in the US and not go back to Turkey with their mother and sister. The brothers loved Amercian jazz and R&B. They had a collection of over 15,000 78 RPM’s. Ahmet decided to try the music business so he borrowed $10,000 from his dentist and and with the help of Herb Abramson, a dental student he had met they formed Atlantic Records. Abramson was president of the company while Ertegun worked as VP in charge of A&R, production and promotion. Abramson’s wife ran the label’s publishing company, Progressive Music. One of the labels first releases was Tony Grimes doing ‘That Old Black Magic’ and ‘The Spider’. Early artists included The Delta Rhythm Boys, The Clovers, The Cardinals, Big Joe Turner, Erroll Garder, Sarah Vaughan, Lead Belly, Professor Longhair, and Al Hibbler. Atlantic’s first hit was a re-recording of Stick McGee’s ‘Drinking Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee’. It was a re-recording due to the fact that the original was on another label that was now closed and unavailable. Ertegun was asked for a copy of the original by a New Orleans distributor so he found Sticks and recorded it himself. The biggest star in the early days was Ruth Brown. She did so much for the label that Atlantic Records would become known as ‘The House That Ruth Built’.
Liberty Records was started by Simon Waronker in 1955. He had Al Bennett as president and Theodore Keep as chief engineer. Liberty originally focused on film and orchestral music. Liberty’s first recording was Lionel Newman’s ‘The Girl Upstairs’. Their first big hit was Julie London’s “Cry Me a River’. Henry Mancini first signed with Liberty but left when he became popular. Patience and Prudence had a major hit for the label with ‘Tonight You Belong to Me’. Other singees that would make Liberty a major label were Eddie Cochran, Billy Ward and his Dominoes, Bobby Vee, Willie Nelson, Jan & Dean, Johnny Burnette, Del Shannon, and Gary Lewis and the Playboys. But before all the success, a singer who already was with Liberty convinced them to release his recording of ‘Witch Doctor’. David Seville helped save Liberty Records at a bad time with that request. The song would go to #1 on the charts.
Imperial Records was begun in 1947 by Lew Chudd. The label concentrated on R&B and Country music. They had artists such as Fats Domino, Ricky Nelson, Frankie Ford, and Slim Whitman. In 1963 Chudd sold the label to Liberty who would have success with Irma Thomas, Johnny Rivers, Jackie DeShannon, the Classics IV and Cher. When the British Invasion started, Imperial would sign The Hollies, Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas and The Swinging Blue Jeans.
Capitol Records was founded in 1942 by Johnny Mercer, Buddy DeSylva and Glenn E Wallichs. First incorporated as Liberty Records (no relation to Liberty Records mentioned above) the name was changed to Capitol on the incorporation application. The first recording was Martha Tilton’s ‘Moon Dreams’. Wallichs began the pracice of DJ copies when he presented Capitol’s first free record to LA disc jockey Peter Potter. The label’s first hit was Ella Mae Morse’s ‘Cow-Cow Boggie’. Over the years Capitol’s artists was a who’s who of names. Les Brown, Ernie Ford, Benny Goodman, Les Paul, Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, The Kingston trio, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Band, and Capitol was also where Bozo the Clown got his start. The label released many Bozo the Clown recordings for their children’s record library.
A&M Records was founded in 1962 by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss. Began as Carnival Records, the label released two records before the name was changed when it was discovered there was already a label named Carnival. The guys took the intials of their last names and came up with A&M. For the first 33 years their offices were on the historic Charlie Chaplin Studios grounds. Their line-up would include Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, Boyce & Hart, We Five, The Carpenters, Rita Coolidge, Joan Baez, Billy Preston, Cat Stevens, Joe Cocker, Procol Harum, Free, and Styx. Within a decade of its beginning, A&M would become the world’s largest independent record company.
The list goes on and on but I’ll stop there. The music label industry has brought music to the public for over 100 years and when you think that before that if someone wanted to hear music they had to hear it live or play it themselves we can count ourselves fortunate to have recordings in a store waiting to be purchased.
Check out our old and NEW BRC Radio shows . Send us your requests. Check out the music and fun on BRC Radio! http://www.birminghamrecord.com/brc/category/radio/
HEY! HAVE YOU HEARD THIS ONE?
‘He Ain’t No Angel’
Leola & The Lovejoys
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU HEARD THIS HIT?
‘Nobody But You’
(#21 – 1958)