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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

MTV  

Nick Rubin

[Music Television]

Cable TV channel launched on 1 August 1981 as a joint venture between Warner Bros and American Express. It was originally conceived as a television analog to mainstream rock radio. However, a limited supply of video clips from mainstream rock artists led the channel to include new wave artists, who had been producing videos for urban “rock discos” as well as for British television. Often these bands were particularly telegenic, displaying dramatic fashion sensibilities and sleek, modern instruments like synthesizers and electronic drums. Although mainstream artists still constituted the majority of MTV programming, the channel became strongly identified with this so-called new music, partially because it had hitherto received scant radio airplay in the United States. When such artists as the Human League, Soft Cell, and Duran Duran exploded in popularity after receiving MTV airplay, the channel pushed commercial radio into the same territory, helping to drive a mainstream New British Invasion in the United States from ...

Article

Jonas Westover

Animated series of educational programs. It was the brainchild of advertiser David McCall, who initially intended to produce educational songs and was convinced by animator Tom Yohe to pitch the concept as an animated television series. Yohe remained with the project, ensuring the show’s hand-drawn look stayed consistent. The first animated short, part of a series devoted to “Multiplication Rock,” was sold to ABC, and it aired as part of the studio’s Saturday morning children’s television lineup. Eventually, Schoolhouse three-minute shorts would be shown multiple times each Saturday and Sunday morning. In addition to mathematics, grammar, and American history, other topics addressed the US legislative system (the frequently parodied “I’m just a bill”) and matters of science (“Electricity, Electricity”). The music for the series relied on popular music styles to aid with learning: “Conjunction Junction” incorporates blues, “Verb: that’s what’s happening” uses funk, and “Busy Prepositions” relies primarily on the jazz idiom. The series also incorporated clever musical references to well-known pieces. Much of the music and lyrics were written by Bob Dorough, the principal singer and narrator for the series. Frequent collaborators included Lynn Ahrens and George Newall. The show aired until ...

Article

Craig Jennex

(b Thunder Bay, ON, Nov 28, 1949). Canadian pianist, composer, musical director, actor, producer, and bandleader. He has been musical director for David Letterman’s late-night shows since 1982. Prior to working with Letterman, Shaffer was a featured performer on “Saturday Night Live.” He has served as musical director and producer for the Blues Brothers and cowrote the 1980s dance hit “It’s raining men.” He has served as musical director for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony since its inception in ...