(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 ...
Terence J. O’Grady
revised by Bryan Proksch
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 ...
[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, ...
Firm of music and book publishers. Concordia Publishing House was founded in St. Louis in 1869 by immigrant German Lutherans for the purpose of printing their hymnals and other church literature, and takes its name from the Lutheran Book of Concord (1580). Its catalog, which has included music since ...
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....
Scottish record company. It was originally established in Austria in August 1990 by musician, painter, and record collector Johann Ferdinand “Johnny” Parth. As far back as the 1950s Parth had reissued vintage recordings, first on the Jazz Perspective and Hot Club de Vienne labels. In the mid-1960s, after consulting with Chris Strachwitz, the founder of Arhoolie Records, Parth and his ex-wife Evelyn launched Roots Records with the goal of creating an Austrian counterpart to Arhoolie; the label, which produced limited-edition reissues (released in America on the Arhoolie label), folded in 1970.
In 1990, using Godrich and Dixon’s Blues and Gospel discography as a guide, Parth undertook the task of attempting to reissue every American blues, gospel, and spiritual recording made between the late 19th century and the early 1940s. He subsequently launched a similar endeavor for vintage American country music. Under Parth’s stewardship, Document produced nearly 900 albums with artists including Thomas A. Dorsey, Lonnie Johnson, Memphis Minnie, Blind Willie McTell, Big Bill Broonzy, and many others. As a result of his success, the Blues Foundation granted him their “Keeping the Blues Alive” award. In ...
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 ...
Record company. It was established by CBS in 1953 as a subsidiary of Columbia Records. Although from the start its issues included jazz and pop, Epic for many years was known primarily for its recordings of George Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra (including those made with a young Leon Fleisher as piano soloist). In the latter part of the 1950s, as rock and roll began to overtake the industry, the company struggled to find itself artistically and commercially, accumulating an odd assortment of American, Australian, and European performers representing a wide array of classical, jazz, and popular styles.
The label’s fortunes began to change in 1964 with its participation in the British Invasion. Epic distributed the American releases of the Dave Clark Five and the Yardbirds and later those of the Hollies and Donovan. The true turning point for the company was the signing in 1967 of Sly and the Family Stone, whose critical and financial success helped redefine the label as a youth-oriented powerhouse. The company expanded through the 1970s, achieving unimaginable heights in the 1980s with Michael Jackson’s mature solo work (...
Joe C. Clark
Record company. Excello was founded in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1952 by Ernie Young, owner of a chain of jukeboxes and record stores. The label was a subsidiary of Young’s Nashboro Records, established a year earlier, which focused on gospel music. Excello initially featured some R&B and hillbilly music but was primarily a blues label. Notable artists included Arthur Gunter, Ted Garrett, Earl Gaines, Roscoe Shelton, the Crescendos, the Gladiolas, and the Marigolds.
In 1956 Jay Miller of Crowley, Louisiana, began producing a number of important swamp blues releases for Excello, including recordings by Lightnin’ Slim, Lazy Lester, and Slim Harpo. Young founded Nasco Records, another subsidiary that centered on pop music, in 1957. Young sold Excello and Nashboro in 1966 to Crescent Amusement Company; Miller’s association with Excello ended soon thereafter. The label issued releases through the mid-1970s featuring a number of southern soul artists, including Maceo and the King’s Men, Z.Z. Hill, Freddie North, and Kip Anderson. In ...
Record company. Named after a science fiction magazine, it was originally established in San Francisco in 1949 by brothers Max and Sol Weiss, who owned a plastic molding business and record pressing plant. The label began with a reissue of masters purchased for $400 from local pianist Dave Brubeck, who had previously issued them on a small local label, Coronet. Throughout the 1950s and 60s Fantasy had its pick of the jazz artists that played the North Beach area of San Francisco, including Cal Tjader, Vince Guaraldi, Gerry Mulligan, and Bola Sete, among others. During that time they also had success with organist Korla Pandit and boasted an active spoken-word roster that featured poets Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti as well as satirist Lenny Bruce. They launched the Galaxy label, also named for a science fiction magazine, in 1951; it operated intermittently and its several incarnations focused on both jazz and R&B....
[James Staton ]
(b Lundale, WV, July 26, 1922). American record label executive. Over the course of more than 50 years, Jim Foglesong has played an influential role in the administration of country music. He initially aimed to be a vocalist, performing on a local radio station as a teenager and receiving a degree as a vocal major from the Eastman School of Music in 1950. He subsequently moved to New York City, where he was hired by Columbia Records shortly thereafter. He was appointed the head of their Epic subsidiary in 1953 and held that position for the next ten years. He moved to RCA Victor in 1964 as the executive director of their pop acts. In 1970 Fogelsong moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and joined the Dot Record label as head of their Artist and Repertoire Department. In 1973 he became president of Dot Records. In 1979 he became president of MCA Records Nashville and was named the president of Capitol Records Nashville in ...
Darlene Graves and Michael Graves
[William J. ]
(b Alexandria, IN, March 28, 1936). American gospel songwriter, performer, producer, and publisher. He grew up on a small farm in Indiana and graduated from Anderson College with a major in English and a minor in music. He went on to receive a master’s degree in guidance and counseling and met his future wife and song-producing partner, Gloria Sickal, while both were teaching high school. Gaither started singing gospel music as a child and in 1956 formed the Bill Gaither Trio with his brother Danny and his sister Mary Ann. He started his own publishing company in 1959. He continued to perform and compose while a teacher at Alexandria High School and in 1961 formed the Gaither Music Company to publish his works. After their marriage in 1962, Gaither and his wife wrote their first major song, “He touched me,” which was a significant hit by 1963. He re-formed the Bill Gaither Trio with Gloria and Danny, and in ...
(b United States). American new Age pianist and producer. He played jazz trumpet and guitar during the 1960s in New York, and has credited John Coltrane as an early influence. He became interested in sonic healing and Eastern religions, both of which became fundamental to the transformation of his musical style. After undergoing a spiritual awakening in 1969 in the Santa Cruz mountains, Halpern developed what he called “anti-frantic alternative” music, releasing his first album, Spectrum Suite, in 1975. It became one of the foundational, and most influential, albums of New Age music. To create what was labeled music for “meditation and inner peace,” Halpern performed slowly unfolding, almost arrhythmic melodies on keyboards and synthesizers. Often using choral backdrops for his minimalist, meandering, and warm sonic environments, he weaves together spiritual growth and musical freedom with the goal of bringing self-actualization and wellness to the listener. He has released over 70 recordings featuring instrumental music as well as guided meditation. These include recordings targeted for specific purposes, such as ...
Radio show and cybercast devoted to new music. Hosted by composers Dennis Báthory-Kitsz (“Kalvos”) and David Gunn (“Damian”), the show aired weekly from 1995 to 2005 on the WGDR-FM 91.1 station at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. Since 2005, new K&D shows have been made available online, albeit on an occasional and irregular basis. Kalvos & Damian’s New Music Sesquihour started on 27 May 1995 as a 90-minute weekly summer radio show. That September they expanded to a permanent two-hour slot, retitled Kalvos & Damian’s New Music Bazaar, and introduced a website (
K&D shows are characterized by a humorous, quirky, playful, and unpretentious tone. Their opening segment consists of a ten-minute “introductory essay,” an often zany, Dadaist narrative written and read by Damian, accompanied by sound effects and banter from Kalvos. The main portion of the show is devoted to interviews and recordings of new music. Over the years, K&D has interviewed a vast range of contemporary composers: experimental and mainstream, symphonic and electronic, prominent and emerging, Vermont natives and overseas figures. K&D also ran online mentoring programs for junior high and high school students and organized the Ought-One Festival of Non-Pop in Montpelier, Vermont. After Báthory-Kitsz and Gunn decided to pursue new projects, the final radio broadcast of K&D aired on ...
Mark Anthony Neal
(b Chicago, IL, Jan 8, 1967). American R&B singer, writer, producer, and arranger. Kelly was born on the South side of Chicago. Raised, with his three siblings, by a single mother, he was encouraged to pursue a musical career by his high school music teacher and mentor, Lena McLin, who was the chair of the music department at the Kenwood Academy and the niece of the legendary gospel music composer Thomas Dorsey. In high school Kelly formed the group MGM (Musically Gifted Men), which won a $100,000 grand prize on the television talent show Big Break, hosted by Natalie Cole. The group eventually signed with Jive Records, though after creative and financial tensions, three of the members were replaced and the group renamed R. Kelly and Public Announcement. After a moderately successful debut that produced the hit singles “She’s Got That Vibe” and “Honey Love,” Kelly left the group in early ...
Record company. Based in Portland, Oregon, and Olympia, Washington, Kill Rock Stars (KRS) was started by Slim Moon in 1991. Moon ran the label until 2006, when his wife, Portia Sabin, took over as president. KRS primarily promotes music by local artists and has remained unaffiliated with a major label. The label describes itself as “queer-positive, feminist and artist friendly.” KRS and many of its artists have been closely associated with Riot grrrl, an underground feminist punk movement.
KRS’s first release was a spoken word split single entitled KRS-101 (1991), featuring Moon and Kathleen Hanna, lead vocalist of the band Bikini Kill. Later that year, KRS released a compilation album featuring Olympia-area bands including Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and The Melvins. Singles, compilations, and LPs by riot grrrl bands such as Bikini Kill, Huggy Bear, and Team Dresch were released by KRS throughout the early 1990s. Subsequent artists of note included Sleater-Kinney and The Gossip. In ...
revised by Andrea F. Bohlman
(b Brooklyn, NY, May 14, 1947). American rock critic, record producer, and manager. While a history student at Brandeis University (BA 1969) he was the main critic for Crawdaddy! (1966–7) and contributed a regular full-page column to Rolling Stone (1967–9). After graduating, he made his first attempts at record production with the MC5 and Livingston Taylor. In 1970 he returned to criticism, first for the Boston Phoenix (1970–2) and then the Real Paper (1972–5). From 1971 he was recordings editor for Rolling Stone, leaving rock criticism in 1975. In 1972 he had already published a collection of his writings. Landau’s authoritative style is direct in its assessment. His knowledge of rock history and his penchant for technical explanation contributed to his tremendous influence on rock’s development. Landau’s longtime association with Bruce Springsteen began in 1974 when he notably described the artist’s “rock and roll future” in the ...
Ryan R. McNutt
[Gottwald, Lukasz ]
(b Westerly, RI, Sept 26, 1973). American songwriter and record producer. One of the most sought-after collaborators for popular singers in the 2000s, he helped reshape the sound of radio pop for the MP3 age. His hits include Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U been Gone,” Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” and Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok.” As of January 2011, he had collaborated on 21 Top 40 Billboard Hot 100 singles.
Following two years at the Manhattan School of Music, he was hired as the lead guitarist for the Saturday Night Live house band in 1997. While working with the show, he began DJing throughout New York, producing or remixing tracks for artists including Mos Def and Black Star. After he met Swedish producer Max Martin at a house party, the duo collaborated on two songs for American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson’s second album, after which Dr. Luke soon wrote hits for Pink, Avril Lavigne, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, and others. Noted for his loud, polished sound and the adoption of electronic and indie rock tropes in his work, he claimed credits on nine separate top ten singles in ...
Gary W. Kennedy
Member of Marsalis family
(b New Orleans, July 28, 1965). Trombonist and record producer, son of Ellis Marsalis. He played electric bass guitar and took up trombone at the age of 12, and later studied record production and trombone at the Berklee College of Music. After graduating (spring 1989) he performed around New Orleans, and at some point he read English at the University of New Orleans. Having worked with Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Abdullah Ibrahim’s septet Ekaya, and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, around spring 1991 Marsalis began leading his own quintet, which has included Mark Turner, the pianist Victor “Red” Atkins, the double bass player Greg Williams, Brian Blade, and his brother Jason Marsalis; in September 1992 he led the group at the reopening of Kimball’s in San Francisco. Between 1993 and 1998 he was a member of Elvin Jones’s Jazz Machine. He moved to New York in ...