Book Celebrates Warner Bros. 50th Anniversary
January 5, 2009 at 5:40 AM (PT)
When film executive JACK WARNER started a record label in MARCH of 1958, he did it mainly because of an embarrassing situation that had occurred the previous year, writes THE NASHVILLE CITY PAPER. His contract actor TAB HUNTER had cut a No. 1 single "Young Love" for DOT RECORDS, and spent more time during a promotional tour for the WARNER BROS. film "The Spirit of ST. LOUIS" talking about his hit song than the movie.
Determined not to let that happen again, WARNER created a company so actors like HUNTER (who never had another big record) would have a platform for their musical works.
From that rather dreary start, and after a couple of years when their only successful release was an album of music from the TV show 77 Sunset Strip, WARNER BROS. evolved into one of AMERICA’s premier companies.
One thing that initially distinguished the label was its focus on albums rather than singles. WARNER BROS. didn’t start as an independent operating in a niche market like CHESS, VEE-JAY, SUN or many other competitors. Instead, they focused on generic material, and were initially clueless about the revolution occurring in AMERICAN music.
But that changed thanks to savvy types like JOE SMITH, who signed THE EVERLY BROTHERS and GRATEFUL DEAD, and helped WARNER BROS. get a foothold in the BRITISH Invasion and SAN FRANCISCO sound, and MO OSTIN, who could deal equally well with jazz and swing types, folk singers and rockers.