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Terence J. O’Grady

revised by Bryan Proksch

(b Los Angeles, CA, March 31, 1935). American trumpeter, composer, bandleader, and record company executive. He studied trumpet as a child and left college to play in the army for a two-year period. After three years of producing records on his own, he launched A&M Records with Jerry Moss in 1962. A&M’s first issue was also Alpert’s first recording as a trumpeter and bandleader, The Lonely Bull (A&M, 1962). The title track included sounds from the bullring in Tijuana, Mexico, so Alpert dubbed his band the Tijuana Brass. His music exploited a distinctive combination of Mexican mariachi-style brass with jazz rhythms, which was dubbed Ameriachi. A string of hits including “Mexican Shuffle” (A&M, 1964) and “Tijuana Taxi” (A&M, 1965) followed. In 1966 Alpert had five recordings simultaneously listed on the Billboard Top 20. His cover of “This guy’s in love with you” reached no.1 in ...

Article

Bill C. Malone

revised by Barry Mazor

[Chester Burton ]

(b nr Luttrell, TN, June 20, 1924, d Nashville, TN, June 30, 2001). American country-music guitarist and recording company executive. Although the first instrument he played professionally was the fiddle, he became internationally famous as a guitarist. Developed while he was in high school, his guitar style was influenced by Merle Travis, Les Paul, Django Reinhardt, and George Barnes and was characterized by the use of the thumb to establish a rhythm on the lower strings and multiple fingers to play melodic or improvisational passages on the higher strings, sometimes with complex voicings. In the early 1940s Atkins toured with Archie Campbell and Bill Carlisle playing both fiddle and guitar, and appeared with them on WNOX radio in Knoxville. He then toured with the second generation Carter Family as a sideman and in 1946 joined Red Foley. After beginning his association with the “Grand Ole Opry” he settled in Nashville in ...

Article

Benjamin J. Harbert

Publishing company. It was founded in 1953 by Grand Ole Opry manager Jim Denny and performer Webb Pierce. It was one of the original Nashville music publishing companies, competing with Acuff-Rose and Tree. Along with the Grand Ole Opry, these companies contributed to the initial consolidation of the country music industry. Its building was located on 7th Avenue across the street from the studio of Owen Bradley, a legendary local producer. With Bradley and an association with Decca Records, Cedarwood quickly surpassed Acuff-Rose as the premiere Nashville publishing house. Songs published under the Cedarwood name formed the repertoire of the Nashville country music industry; significant recorded works included “The Long Black Veil” by Lefty Frizzell, “So Wrong” by Patsy Cline, “Detroit City” by Bobby Bare, “Daddy Sang Bass” by Johnny Cash, and “The Comeback” by Faron Young. Other notable songwriters whose work was published by Cedarwood include Marijohn Wilkin, Buddy Holly, Danny Dill, Cindy Walker, Ronnie Self, and John D. Loudermilk. In the mid-1960s, Cedarwood began to develop its religious music catalog. Co-founder Denny died in ...

Article

Roben Jones

[John Henderson ]

(b Whitehaven, TN, April 8, 1931). American singer-songwriter, producer, publisher, and entrepreneur. He began playing bluegrass while in the military and after his discharge in 1952, played at radio stations in Wheeling, West Virginia, and Boston. While enrolled in Memphis State University (from 1954), he worked nights and weekends at the Eagle’s Nest club. After working briefly for Fernwood Records, he was hired by Sun Records, where he recorded Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash, among others. He wrote hits for several of Sun’s artists, including Johnny Cash’s singles “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” and “Guess things happen that way” (both Sun, 1958).

Clement left Sun in 1960 to became a staff producer for RCA in Nashville. In 1963 he moved to Texas, started a publishing company, and produced Dickey Lee’s hit “Patches” (Smash, 1963). After returning to Nashville in 1965, he discovered and produced Charlie Pride and wrote songs for a variety of country artists, including Pride (“Just between you and me,” RCA Victor, ...

Article

Colpix  

Christopher Doll

Record company. Formed in 1958 by Columbia Pictures, Colpix originally aimed to market soundtracks and spin-off recordings of Columbia’s movies and Screen Gems’ (another Columbia subsidiary) television shows. Colpix’s catalog featured scores by such illustrious film composers as Bernard Herrmann and a young John Williams, although the company’s biggest movie-derived success came in 1962 with Maurice Jarre’s Oscar-winning score for Lawrence of Arabia. On the television side, the company’s focus was split between animated characters (the Flintstones, Huckleberry Hound), comedians (George Burns, Woody Allen), and comely young actors-turned-singers (Paul Petersen, Shelley Fabares, both from The Donna Reed Show). Other notable acts included the celebrated singer Nina Simone (at Colpix from 1959 to 1964) and the Marcels (“Blue Moon”). In late 1962 Colpix began to shift more attention toward the pop market, acquiring Aldon Music and, with it, the recording label Dimension and its crop of successful Brill Building pop songwriters. Yet this new direction did not yield much commercial interest, and Colpix folded in ...

Article

Dakar  

Andrew Flory

Record label. Active from 1967 to 1976, Dakar specialized in dance music and ballads performed by African American artists. Based in Chicago, Dakar was independently owned and operated by songwriter and producer Carl Davis, who was at the same time vice president of Brunswick Records, which recently had become independent. Between 1967 and 1970, while Brunswick was still part of Decca Records, Davis worked as a producer, and Dakar releases were distributed by Atlantic Records. In late 1971, Dakar became a subsidiary of Brunswick, which began to distribute Dakar’s recordings. The company is known for its releases of Chicago-based soul music. Balladeer Tyrone Davis, whose “Can I change my mind” rose to peak popularity in early 1969, was Dakar’s most notable artist; R&B artist Hamilton Bohannon was another mainstay for the label in the mid-1970s. Dakar and Brunswick were embroiled in a public payola trial in 1975 and 1976 that led to the company’s creative demise....

Article

Alyssa Woods

Record label. Death Row Records was formed in 1991 by former football star Marion “Suge” Knight and rapper/producer Dre (Andre Romelle Young) in Los Angeles, California. The label’s first release was Dr. Dre’s The Chronic in 1992, a groundbreaking album that paired explicit and often violent lyrics with commercial beats that were based on older soul, funk, and R&B songs. The musical style of The Chronic became known as “G-Funk” (Gangsta-funk), a style that dominated many of Death Row’s early albums as well as most West Coast gangsta rap throughout the 1990s.

Death Row achieved immense success within a few years, partly due to aggressive marketing to mainstream audiences, and partly due to a successful distribution deal with Interscope. Death Row Records became a target of the controversy within the gangsta rap industry due to the constant legal problems of Suge Knight and many of the artists signed to the label (for example Snoop Dogg, and later Tupac Shakur). As a consequence of public debates surrounding gangsta rap’s promotion of violence and drugs, Interscope’s parent company, Time-Warner, eventually dropped Interscope as a distributor in an effort to distance themselves from Death Row....

Article

David Sanjek

[James Rae ]

(b Buffalo Valley, TN, Feb 28, 1911; d Nashville, TN, Aug 27, 1963). American country music agent, publisher, and Grand Ole Opry manager. One of the most influential and powerful figures in the country music business, Jim Denny followed the path of the classic American success story. He left his home in Buffalo Valley, Tennessee, at age 16 with purportedly no more than 40 cents in his pocket. He moved to Nashville and joined the mailroom staff at WSM radio (home of the Grand Ole Opry). He completed his college degree by mail and worked his way up the corporate ladder, becoming the manager of concessions at the Opry during World War II. In 1951 Denny was promoted to manager of the Opry, an appointment that granted him to programming privileges and thus put him in the position to make or break performers’ careers. Additionally, he headed the ...

Article

Joe C. Clark

Record company founded by Houston-based African American entrepreneur Don Robey in 1949. It focused primarily on rhythm-and-blues and gospel music. Robey’s initial label, Peacock Records, was created to record bluesman Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. The label also recorded Big Mama Thornton’s rendition of “Hound Dog,” which was later covered and made famous by Elvis Presley. Gospel artists including the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, the Dixie Hummingbirds, and the Bells of Joy joined the label and provided much of its success during the early 1950s.

In 1952 Peacock acquired the Memphis-based rhythm-and-blues label Duke from WDIA DJ David James Mattis. Its roster included Rosco Gordon, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and Johnny Ace. Robey later formed additional subsidiary labels: Sure Shot; Song Bird, which featured gospel music; Back Beat, formed in 1957 to meet the growing teen market; and Peacock’s Progressive Jazz label.

In 1973 Robey retired and sold the Duke/Peacock label, affiliated labels, and publishing companies to ABC-Dunhill Records. Its catalog consisted of nearly 2700 songs and approximately ...

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