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Article

Olivia Carter Mather

[Alvis Edgar ]

(b Sherman, TX, Aug 12, 1929; d Bakersfield, CA, March 25, 2006). American country musician and businessman. He is widely considered the central figure of the Bakersfield sound, and his dominance of the country charts in the 1960s challenged Nashville’s hegemony and bolstered the West Coast country scene in Bakersfield and Los Angeles. During the 1950s he worked as a guitarist and session player for several Bakersfield artists before signing with Capitol Records in 1957. In 1963 he began a streak of 14 consecutive number-one country hits with “Act Naturally,” which was later covered by the Beatles. Other hits included “Together Again” (1964), “I’ve got a tiger by the tail” (1965), and a cover of “Johnny B. Goode” (1969).

Owens’s songs eschewed themes of hard living and rambling for a portrayal of the male subject as a lonely victim of romance. With his backing band, the Buckaroos, he developed a bright, driving sound which he described as a freight train feel: heavy bass and drums accompanying two Fender Telecaster electric guitars played by Owens and the guitarist Don Rich. The twangy Telecaster sound and high, close harmony of Owens and Rich characterized many of his recordings. The Buckaroos both toured and recorded with Owens, a contrast to country norms. Owens thus established an alternative to the popular “countrypolitan” sound produced in Nashville (he also never joined the “Grand Ole Opry”); in doing so he inspired such country-rock musicians as Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers. He also marketed himself as a hard-country artist free of pop influence; in ...

Article

Charles K. Wolfe

(b nr West Monroe, LA, Aug 8, 1921; d Nashville, TN, Feb 24, 1991). American country-music singer, guitarist, songwriter, and publisher. He performed as a guitarist on radio station KMLB (Monroe, LA) before 1950, when he joined the “Louisiana hayride ” on KWKH (Shreveport, LA). Recording contracts with the local Pacemaker label (c1950), Four-Star, and Decca (1951) allowed him to resign his part-time job as a clerk at Sears, Roebuck and concentrate on music. After his initial hit, “Wondering” (1952), he gained national attention with “Back Street Affair” (1952), one of the first country songs to deal forthrightly with adultery. An equally important landmark was “There stands the glass” (1953), a classic drinking song and the first country hit to use the pedal steel guitar, played by Bud Isaacs. It became the favorite backup instrument in country music for the next two decades, and Pierce was the first of many country singers whose slurs, octave jumps, and use of dynamics complemented its sound. During his peak years (...

Article

Diane Pecknold

(b Nashville, TN, Aug 27, 1928; d Nashville, June 13, 2012). American music executive and philanthropist. Preston began her career as a messenger for the National Life and Accident Insurance Company. She soon became a receptionist at the company’s radio station, WSM, and was largely responsible for organizing the early WSM Disc Jockey Convention, an event that would become the most important annual gathering for country music professionals. In 1958 she was hired to open a Nashville office for Broadcast music, inc . Under her direction, BMI became the dominant performing rights organization in the region and, by offering advances to new publishers and songwriters, the central economic engine of the country music industry. By 1964 BMI Nashville had expanded from two people working in Preston’s garage to 400 employees, and she reportedly became the first female executive in Tennessee when she was promoted to vice president. In 1985...

Article

Albin Zak

A person who plans and oversees the execution of recording projects. Producers’ specific roles vary considerably, depending on musical idiom, historical era, and an individual’s qualifications. A useful breakdown of types is offered by Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler: “documentarian,” “servant of the project,” and “artist.” While Wexler addressed his analysis to the roles of pop producers, the general concept applies to other idioms as well. The documentarian seeks to capture musical events with as little apparent intrusion as possible. The servant of the project takes a more active role, suggesting repertory, pairing performers, and offering aesthetic opinions on performances, arrangements, tempo, balance, and so forth. The producer as artist describes a person whose creative vision and stylistic inclinations exert a decisive influence on the project, an ultimate authority not unlike a film director. However a producer approaches the role, he or she is responsible for overseeing and judging the work of performers and recording engineers, for managing a project’s budget and schedule, and for serving as a record company’s agent on a given project....

Article

Alex Harris Stein

(b Pittsburgh, PA, Jan 29, 1915; d Paterson, NJ, March 18, 1995). American writer on jazz, record producer, and folklorist. He coedited one of the first scholarly books on jazz with Charles Edward Smith, Jazzmen: the Story of Hot Jazz Told in the Lives of the Men who Created It (New York, 1939). Supported in part by Guggenheim Fellowships (1953, 1955), Ramsey conducted extensive fieldwork throughout the American South, photographing African American life and recording interviews and music. The results of his travels are detailed in his books Been Here and Gone (New Brunswick, NJ, 1960) and Where the Music Started (New Brunswick, NJ, 1970). Many of his field recordings were released by Folkways Records as Music of the South (1954). He produced a historical anthology of recordings for Folkways titled Jazz (1950–53). Later, grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (...

Article

Stanley Boorman

The study of the patterns of use of rastra. A ‘rastrum’ (from Lat.: ‘rake’) is a multi-nibbed pen – specially designed to rule staves in manuscript music. Rastra were evidently used in some manuscripts at least by the 14th century, both with five nibs for polyphony and with four for chant sources. (There is some evidence for their use in places in both the ‘Worcester Fragments’ and the Machaut manuscripts.) During the 16th century (and perhaps earlier) larger rastra were made for drawing more than one staff at a time. In 1553 the German writer Holtzmüller provided instructions for using a rastrum. Even though printed manuscript paper emerged during the 16th century, in Germany and then in England, much music paper continued to be ruled by hand for many more years. A number of rastra survive from the 18th and 19th centuries, including one for drawing two staves at a time. All of these are made of metal, though the appearance of the staves themselves in surviving manuscripts suggests that earlier rastra were not so rigidly constructed. There were also rastra designed to rule larger numbers of staves, up to ten or 12; the overall depth of the staves on a page (that is, the overall width of the rastrum used) has been used by Tyson and others to distinguish batches of paper that are otherwise identical. Evidence of the use of a rastrum can be seen in manuscripts by Liszt and Wagner, and even in the sketchbook used by Stravinsky at the time of composing his ...

Article

Desmond Shawe-Taylor

For a long while successive periods in the history of the gramophone (or phonograph) tended to follow one another at approximately 25-year intervals. The invention itself dates from 1877, the year in which the Frenchman Charles Cros (1842–88) deposited with the Académie des Sciences a paper containing proposals for the reproduction of sound, without putting his theories to a practical test, and in which an American, Thomas Edison (1847–1931), independently began to study sound recording and reproduction as part of his wider researches into telegraphy, and was soon able to recite Mary had a Little Lamb into a crude recording horn and to hear his words immediately and recognizably played back.

Thereafter, nothing very momentous happened until the last decade of the century. The early death of Cros and Edison’s lack of interest in the musical possibilities of his invention left the field open for a while to the apparently extensive and important but somewhat shadowy achievements of an Italian cavalry officer, Lt Gianni Bettini, who indulged in activities of considerable scope and value, and actually recorded the voice of Pope Leo XIII in his 93rd year. With the exception of an undoubtedly genuine recording of the great Polish soprano, Marcella Sembrich, which was romantically discovered in the attic of a New Zealand hotel, scrupulously dubbed and made generally available in ...

Article

Albin Zak

A person engaged primarily with the technological and acoustic aspects of sound recording. Engineers are charged with rendering musical events in an electronic form according with the event’s musical style and tradition. As such, they contribute a blend of technological and musical knowledge unique among a recording team’s members. As sound waves are converted into electricity and begin their journey along the electrical signal path, arriving finally at the listener’s ear, the engineer’s controlling hand and sensibility guide the way at nearly every step.

Historically speaking, engineers pursued an ideal of transparent representation, seeking to silence artifacts of the recording process and providing listeners with an impression of fidelity to the musical event. There was to be “no intrusion that is apparent on the part of the engineer,” averred Capitol Records engineer Carson Taylor. “He has to be a truly transparent entity.” On one hand, technological developments fed this aspiration to sonic realism with such inventions as the microphone and, later, magnetic tape. On the other, the tools of enhanced fidelity also offered greater potential for artifice and electronic intrusion into the acoustic musical moment, which postwar popular music engineers, in particular, took as a tacit mandate to develop techniques of electronic sound manipulation. As they manage the music-technology interface—whether disguising or displaying their skilled artifice—engineers are inevitably thrust into aesthetic roles, their technical craft tempered by subjective intuition....

Article

Miles White

[Antonio ]

(b Cincinnati, OH, June 7, 1956). American songwriter, producer, and recording industry executive. One of the most influential African American music executives of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Reid shared songwriting or production credits on a string of major crossover albums in the 1980s and 1990s, among them Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel (1988), Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl (1988), Whitney Houston’s I’m Your Baby Tonight (1990), The Bodyguard soundtrack album (1992), and TLC’s CrazySexyCool (1994). His first professional success came as a drummer for the R&B group the Deele, which featured singer Babyface Edmonds. In 1989 Reid and Edmonds began producing hits together in Los Angeles before starting LaFace Records in Atlanta under a joint partnership with Arista Records. LaFace mentored a new generation of artists including Usher, Outkast, Toni Braxton, and TLC, making Atlanta an important hub in the popular music industry. Reid and Edmonds collaborated on writing or producing 33 number one singles during their partnership, and in ...

Article

David Sanjek

(b North Little Rock, AR, Aug 18, 1938). American country music songwriter and producer. One of the most prolific and successful country music songwriters and producers of the last few decades, Reynolds also has played a major role in the careers of a number of artists, most notably Garth Brooks. Reynolds began writing songs while studying for a degree in English at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. One of his classmates was singer-songwriter Dickey Lee, with whom Reynolds became a collaborator when the duo moved to Beaumont, Texas. They cowrote “I saw Linda yesterday,” which was a top-20 hit for Lee in 1963. Reynolds and Lee returned thereafter to Memphis and formed a publishing company, whose writing roster included Bob McDill and Paul Craft. In 1965 the firm achieved a top-five hit with the Vogues’ recording of Reynolds’s “Five O’Clock World.” Reynolds moved to Nashville in 1970 and established a reputation as a premiere producer and songwriter. He has coordinated projects for Kathy Mattea, Hal Ketchum, Don Williams, Crystal Gayle, Emmylou Harris, and the O’Kanes and written several hit songs, including Crystal Gayle’s “Wrong Road Again” and “Somebody loves you,” Waylon Jennings’s “Dreaming My Dreams with You,” and Don Williams’s “We should be together.” His most successful association has been with Garth Brooks, who remains the best-selling artist of the post-Sound Scan era (post-...

Article

Mike Alleyne

(b New York, NY, Sept 19, 1952). American producer, composer, and guitarist. At the helm of the band Chic , Rodgers and his bass-playing production partner Bernard Edwards (1952–96) epitomized the very best of the disco era while transcending the genre with one of popular music’s most dynamic and cohesive rhythm sections. Individually with highly distinctive guitar licks, Rodgers also successfully transitioned into the 1980s, producing platinum pop records for David Bowie, Madonna, Duran Duran, and many other major acts. This effectively made him one of that decade’s most highly regarded and commercially bankable industry figures.

Rodgers and Edwards met in 1970, becoming members of the Big Apple Band that backed R&B vocal group New York City in 1973, and eventually formed Chic in 1977, releasing an eponymous debut album that year on Atlantic Records that included the Top Ten hit and gold record “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah).” The follow-up album ...

Article

David Sanjek

[Knols, Fred ]

(b Evansville, IL, Aug 24, 1898; d Nashville, TN, Dec 1, 1954). American songwriter and publisher. It is difficult to imagine how Nashville’s country music industry would be structured were it not for the efforts of the songwriter and publisher Fred Rose. His commitment to the city and the genre helped to establish a business model that has continued successfully to the present day. He moved to Chicago in his teens and found a home in vaudeville, eventually achieving initial success as a songwriter for the “Red Hot Mama” Sophie Tucker. Some of his early material was recorded by King Oliver and Paul Whiteman, and Rose also found a role as a performer on local radio. He moved to Nashville in 1933, appeared as a performer on WSM, and became intrigued by the possibilities inherent in the cowboy genre. He migrated to Hollywood, wrote hits for Tex Ritter, the Sons of the Pioneers, and Gene Autry and benefited from the B-movie market for singing cowboys. Rose returned to Nashville in ...

Article

Rob Bowman

[Diane Ernestine ]

(b Detroit, March 26, 1944). American pop singer . She initially came to fame as the lead singer of the Supremes, who were signed to the Motown record label in 1961. Beginning in 1963 with When the Lovelight Starts Shining, the group had a series of 28 singles in the American pop charts, 12 of which reached the number one position, including Where did our love go?, Baby Love, Stop! In the name of love, You can’t hurry love, You keep me hangin’ on, Love Child and Someday we’ll be together. In 1967 the group’s name was changed to Diana Ross and the Supremes, paving the way for her subsequent solo career, begun in 1970.

She was highly successful as a soloist, and placed 20 singles on the American rhythm and blues and pop music charts. Five of these reached the number one position in the pop charts: Ain’t no mountain high enough...

Article

Jonas Westover

(Harry )

(b Upper Darby, PA, June 22, 1948). American singer-songwriter, composer, and producer. He began his career as a teenager singing with the bands Woody’s Truck Stop and the more successful rock quartet Nazz. As a member of the latter group, he wrote two of their hit songs, “Hello, it’s me” and “Open your Eyes” (both 1968). After releasing three albums with Nazz, Rundgren left the group and worked as a solo artist, recording most of the vocal and instrumental parts himself. He cited the songwriter Laura Nyro as a significant influence. During the early 1970s Rundgren worked with a trio, Runt, recording two albums, the second entitled Runt: the Ballad of Todd Rundgren (1971), and his own two-record set, Something/Anything? (1972). The latter album brought him unprecedented fame through the singles “I Saw the Light” and a new version of “Hello, it’s me.” The recordings ...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Bridges, Claude Russell ]

(b Lawton, OK, April 2, 1942). American singer, songwriter, keyboard player, and producer. He is well respected for his solo work—a mix of rock, folk, and country music—but his work as a session musician has also brought significant recognition. He began playing piano at the age of four and was playing in clubs in Tulsa as a high school student. His band, the Starlighters, managed to score a spot as the opening act for Jerry Lee Lewis in 1959. Russell moved to Los Angeles the same year and quickly established himself as a session musician, notably with Wrecking Crew, the, the group of musicians Phil Spector used to accompany his artists. With the Wrecking Crew, he accompanied artists such as the Byrds, Herb Alpert, and Gary Lewis and the Playboys. The keyboard player on hundreds of recordings, he opened his own recording studio in 1967. He has since been active in almost all fields of popular music, from musician to singer to songwriter to label owner (he founded Shelter Records in ...

Article

Music studio and composer’s collective. It was established in San Francisco in 1961 by Ramon Sender and Pauline Oliveros, and was soon joined by Morton Subotnick. Its first location was on Jones Street, but after the building accidentally burned down, the center relocated to a large building on Divisadero Street. It was not only the first electronic music studio on the West Coast but also became a hub of artistic activities and technological research. In addition to offering light shows designed by Anthony Martin, it hosted many composers, poets and artists, and programmed various concerts: the Sonics series, regular programming featuring avant-garde music from the Americas, Asia, and Europe, the three Tudorfest festivals, and other events. This is where in 1964 Terry Riley’s In C was first performed and in 1965 Steve Reich first played his It’s gonna rain. The center was the site of a number of technological developments with Bill Maginnis, also a composer, and, in ...

Article

Lorena Guillén

(b El Palomar, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 19, 1951). Argentine musician, recording producer, and film music composer. With his bands Arco Iris and Soluna, Santaolalla was one of the pioneers of Argentine “rock nacional” in the 1960s. In 1978 he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he formed the punk-influenced band Wet Picnic. In the early 1980s his interest in folk-rock fusion helped develop a unique Latin American rock and pop sound. He has produced albums for Argentine, Mexican, Colombian, and Chilean artists such as León Gieco, Divididos, Bersuit Vergarabat, Café Tacuba, Maldita Vecindad, Molotov, Julieta Venegas, Caifanes, Juanes, and Los Prisioneros. In the last decade Santaolalla has also produced classical-crossover recordings such as Kronos Quartet’s Nuevo and participated as a composer and performer for some tracks of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ayre. Santaolalla has also recorded his own solo albums: Santaolalla (1981), Gas (1995), and ...

Article

Charles K. Wolfe

revised by Patrick Huber

(b Bristol, England, Oct 19, 1889; d Fountain Valley, CA, Feb 10, 1986). record producer and executive of British birth. He immigrated to the United States in 1913 and worked in a variety of positions for the Wisconsin Chair Company of Port Washington, Wisconsin, including at the firm’s subsidiary plant in New London, Wisconsin, which manufactured cabinets for Edison phonographs. Around 1915, after Edison purchased the plant, Satherley worked briefly as an assistant secretary to Thomas A. Edison himself. Two years later Satherley assisted in setting up the Wisconsin Chair Company’s phonograph record manufacturing division, the New York Recording Laboratories. He spent the next decade or so working for the firm’s Paramount label, first as the manager of the pressing plant in Grafton, Wisconsin, developing the formula for shellac discs, and then as sales manager for Paramount’s East Coast operation, promoting its line of Race record s. In ...

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 ...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Westover, Charles Weedon ]

(b Grand Rapids, MI, Dec 30, 1934; d Santa Clarita, CA, Feb 8, 1990). American singer, songwriter, and producer. Growing up, he learned to play ukulele and guitar while immersing himself in country-and-western music. Throughout the second half of the 1950s, he played in a variety of bands while in the military and also in Michigan. He used several different names during his time as a performer, but finally settled on “Del Shannon” in 1960. In the same year Shannon and his fellow musician, Max Crook, were signed to Bigtop Records in New York. The two wrote and recorded the rock and roll hit “Runaway” in 1961, with the single reaching number one on the Billboard chart. In the following two years Shannon wrote and performed several other successful singles, including “So long, baby,” “Hats off to Larry,” and “Little Town Flirt.” His 1963 cover of “From Me to You” was one of the first American covers of a Beatles song. After moving to Amy Records in ...