Friday, February 29, 2008

The World’s First Album Cover

Alex Steinweiss’ Greatest Hit
I was contacted by a gentleman yesterday about the value of this particular album cover (and records), which is said to be Alex Steinweiss's first cover for Columbia Records in 1938. Alex Steinwess, a then 23 years old designer, convinced Columbia’s suits to create the first true album cover. Until then, 78s were sold in generic brown paper sleeves.

I did some research and found this site that adds information about this historic album cover, (
but does not mention what it is worth today. Anyone know how much this album is worth?

The Future Of Album Cover Art

By Robert Benson

As we conclude our four-part article series on album cover art, let’s to peer into the future and see what lies ahead for vinyl records and album cover art. Joining us again for our discussion is Vinyl Record Day Founder and vinyl businessman Gary Freiberg ( &

“The introduction of the compact disc and of course the new required player was nothing new in the history of recording. Ever since Thomas Edison introduced records in 1877 record companies have periodically changed the format of how the recording is listened to,” Freiberg explains. “Edison’s first records were round cylinders that slipped onto a spindle, then records became flat, a disc. Now everyone had to go out and buy the new disc player, the flat record phonograph, and replace their old cylinder records with flat ones that played at the 78 rpm speed. Years went by and Columbia invented a new speed, the 33rpm. Again, consumers had to replace that old 78rpm phonograph and buy new phonographs that played the new 33rpm speed. RCA didn’t like Columbia introducing their new speed so they came out with one of their own, the 45rpm.”

“In fact, Robert Sarnoff, the president of RCA became furious when Columbia offered him the new speed; it was like Apple offering Sony their iPod technology and Sony turning it down. Sarnoff wanted his engineers to come up with something different, hence, the 45rpm, which if you start with 78 and subtract 33 you get 45 and that’s how that came to be.”

Getting back on track Freiberg continues, “The 33rpm and 45rpm were the leaders until 8 track tapes were introduced, and of course the new player to listen to them. Next were the smaller cassette tapes, and yes, a new player to play them.”

A few years later came the compact disc, and again, a new player to hear them.

Optimistically Freiberg says, “Through the digital revolution vinyl has endured because it has something no other format has, personal connection. No other format has the association we attach to vinyl and our personal history. But that doesn’t mean that when all the baby boomers are gone vinyl will disappear? There is resurgence in vinyl, the generation that grew up on CD’s are recognizing the differences between the formats, they appreciate cover art and the difference in sound. For a generation that grew up playing vinyl, CD’s were a big change, for the CD generation it’s vinyl that is a change. I’m very encouraged about the future of the vinyl record not just from a business point but as a vinyl preservationist and historian. It’s important we preserve our audio history, vinyl is the format that has more of it than any other.”

Moreover, does album cover art add a new dimension to the overall listening experience? As we have learned yes it does. It is a tangible, tactile connection, one you don’t really get with a CD or a download. Yes, CD’s have art and lyrics, but in a shrunken format and certainly it is not the same experience that one would get with an elaborate album cover. There are even a number of record companies who are adding images and art work to downloaded material, but it is virtual, not tactile. And there is another vital reason to appreciate vinyl and album cover art.

“Only five percent of vinyl recordings have been transferred to commercial compact disc,” Freiberg states. “Record companies cannot afford to transfer everything onto CD; it’s not economically viable to do that. For example there’s not much demand for radio broadcasts from the forties. Record companies wouldn’t recoup their costs releasing a CD like that; much of our audio history is not commercially viable so it doesn’t get transferred.”

So who then, is responsible for preserving our audio past?

“Consumers,” Freiberg answers without hesitation. “The public are the custodian of our audio history. We are the ones responsible to make sure our record collection and album cover art is cared for so that we can pass on to future generation the voices and sound of years past. Record companies won’t do it, so it’s up to every person who has a record collection to preserve it for the future.”

How do we encourage today’s society to preserve those “old records” containing recordings that will never see the shine of a compact disc? Gary explains why he founded Vinyl Record Day in 2002:

“Vinyl Record is the only 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the Preservation of the Cultural Influences, Recordings and Album Cover Art of the Vinyl Record. The Internet has been the primary avenue for the public to learn of us and our objectives. To raise funds for education and awareness I created the ‘Mural of Album Cover Art.’ It’s our poster child featuring one hundred different album covers from a forty year period and includes music artists from many genres as well as the album covers of many highly respected graphic artists. The Mural of Album Cover Art is not the definitive representation of album covers or the definitive set of covers. It is a representation of the depiction the art form has of fashion, lifestyles and social values as we evolved from the forties to the nineties. There’s a Narrative Guide that annotates each one of the one hundred covers that explains their place in the history of Album Cover Art.” You can check the mural out at

Freiberg concludes with a touch of irony, “Now the digital age has come full circle. Trying to add value to downloading music, major players like Apple’s iTunes now include cover art with the individual download. Loaded onto an iPod screen, with this latest innovation, record companies have succeeded in shrinking cover art even further than a CD jewel case. A new innovation, however; there is no substitute, no replacement for the historic album cover art that accompanies the musical format that we are closest to, the vinyl record.”

So with record companies trying to add value to download by including specific art work for the individual download, until they come up with a new innovation, there will be no substitute for the old-fashioned and historic album cover art that accompanies the classic music we adore.

This Day In Music History- Feb 29

Gretchen Christopher of the Fleetwoods ("Come Softly To Me") is 17 (she was born 68 years ago but only has a birthday once every four years)

Partridge Family producer/songwriter Wes Farrell ("Hang On Sloopy", "Come On Down To My Boat", "Come A Little Bit Closer" and many others) died in Fisher Island, Florida in 1996. He also worked with the Everly Brothers and Lou Christie. The Beatles, Van Morrison, Jay & the Americans, and the Yardbirds also covered his songs.

In 1980, Mason City Police discovered a file containing Buddy Holly's glasses and a watch owned by The Big Bopper, that were found in the wreckage of their plane crash in 1959. Holly's cuff links worn during the crash had already been presented to Paul McCartney back in 1976, when the first Buddy Holly Week was held. Holly's widow would eventually launch a lawsuit to recover his glasses.

Aretha Franklin won her first Grammy (Best Female R&B Vocal for "Respect") in 1968.

In 2000, Lonestar top the Hot 100 chart with the their country single "Amazed." It's the first time a country song has gone to No. 1 since Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's "Islands in the Stream" in 1983.

2000 - In Guilford, Surrey, Eric Clapton had his driving privileges suspended for six months and was fined about $570 dollars for speeding. (I guess he’s not “slow foot)

In 1964, Betty Everett's "The Shoop Shoop Song" entered the Billboard chart, where it will peak at #6.

In 2000, 'Two Against Nature,' Steely Dan's first studio album since 1980, was released.

Today in 1992, the song "To Be with You" by Mr. Big topped the charts and stayed there for 3 weeks.

The Beatles won an Album of the Year Grammy for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in 1968. How could they not win with one of the most historic LP’s ever released?

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s U.S. visas expired in 1972. This begins a three-year struggle for permanent residency status. The couple were viewed as political radicals by the Nixon Administration who wants them deported. John and Yoko eventually win the right to stay.

In 2000, Smashing Pumpkins released “MACHINA/The Machines of Gods,” their last studio LP.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

R.I.P- Buddy Miles

Buddy Miles, the rock and R&B drummer, singer and songwriter whose eclectic career included stints playing with Jimi Hendrix and as the lead voice of the California Raisins, the animated clay figures that became an advertising phenomenon in the late 1980s, has died. He was 60.

Miles died Tuesday of congestive heart failure at his home in Austin, Texas, according to an announcement on his website.

A massive man with a distinctive, sculpted afro, Miles hit his peak of popularity when he joined Hendrix and bassist Billy Cox to form Hendrix's Band of Gypsys, which the New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll called "the first black rock group." Miles had played with Hendrix on the guitarist's influential "Electric Ladyland" album released in 1968.

The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper Album Steals The Show

Butcher Block Album Creates Controversy

By Robert Benson

As we continue our discussion with Gary Freiberg (, let’s pick up where we left off and continue detailing the poll that was conducted at the Vinyl Record Day web site and specifically, the album that was voted to be the number one album cover of all time, the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” album.

The album was groundbreaking because up until then album covers were pretty standard, a picture of the artist (usually a head shot) or group or a specific setting, for example, maybe a jukebox surrounded by teens. This was a very careful and easy way of doing things. But, the Beatles added new elements to album cover art, as Gary details:

“The Beatles did something with the Sgt. Pepper album that had never been done before, this was the first packaged vinyl and it came complete with inserts and a specially designed album cover. And, who and why were these pictures of other famous people included on the cover, it just didn’t make sense. The Beatles also included cardboard cut-outs. Up until then it was logical, here’s the music, here’s the artist. It also started the idea that Paul was dead because there is a hand that seems to be coming out of nowhere, it is above Paul’s head; and Paul is also wearing a black carnation. So there were elements about the entire album package that gave people a purpose to sit down with it. That is one of the unique features of album cover art and why people have such a bond with albums, because it is something tactile; we put it in our hands and we sat down and looked at it. The Beatles broke all ground and Sgt. Pepper is by far, in the history of album cover art, the most pivotal album cover of all time.”

Now an interesting note for record collectors is that the value of this classic album is directly influenced by whether or not the package includes the aforementioned cut-outs as well as a custom sleeve. Of course, the condition of the vinyl record itself is paramount and is the single most deciding factor when ascertaining the price for, not only this album, but for any vinyl record.

After the Sgt. Pepper album, record labels and the musicians themselves were much more liberal when creating album cover art. They started to market to specific demographics and groups. Graphics were improved and famous artists were also commissioned to add their expertise to the evolving world of album cover art. Bands started to include more lyrics, band pictures and production notes. Many controversial, provocative and famous album covers were produced. But, even before Sgt. Pepper, the Beatles were at the forefront with regards to controversial album cover art. In fact, the Beatles’ album “Yesterday...& Today” (also known as the “butcher block” album) gained critical attention and controversy.

“The story behind this is that it portrays the Beatles wearing white butcher smocks with various severed baby doll parts. Paul is sitting with a severed head in his lap and the rest of the torso on his shoulder and they mixed this all in with bloody beef ribs,” details Gary. “The reason the Beatles did this cover was that they did not like what the record company did with their album “Help.” That is the cover where the Beatles’ intent was to purposely try to spell out “help” with the pictures of themselves with outstretched arms and everyone is considered in a different way. But when the album cover was released in the states, the executives at Capitol records didn’t get it and they just randomly arranged the Beatles on the cover and the Beatles thought that the record company had “butchered” the cover.”

“As soon as it (the butcher cover) got over here, it got recalled and in fact, I spoke with a record store owner in Los Angles who recently sold a copy of the record, still in shrink wrap, stereo version, along with the original letter from Capitol Records stating that they were recalling the album and he sold this copy for $80,000. Now this is a very rare record because the mono version of the album out numbered the stereo version eight to one and is much more common.”

The album has been out of print for years. It was replaced by the “trunk cover”, a picture of the Fab Four around a large trunk (with Paul McCartney sitting inside the trunk). After the recall, this picture was either pasted over the “butcher block” picture or the “butcher block” cover was removed all together, with the “trunk cover” then pasted on the front of the album (incidentally, the pictures of both covers were taken by the same photographer, Robert Whitaker). Now, is there a way to ascertain exactly what kind of cover you have if you happen to own a copy of the Beatles’ “Yesterday...& Today” album? Yes, there is as Gary informs us:

“With the paste over there is a way to know if you have a paste over cover or not. On the right hand side, a couple of inches above the bottom and a couple of inches over (there is a lot of white filler space on this particular cover and it is very plain again was a purposeful comment from the Beatles) there is a “V”. You see, Ringo was wearing a turtle-neck on the butcher cover and if you have a paste over copy you can see that black triangle that bleeds through. If you have a pasted over cover, there is value to those as well.”

So with the Beatles’ vision and creativeness, other artist joined the crowd. For instance, the Jimi Hendrix LP called “Electric Ladyland” was released in the U.K. with pictures of nude women. But, the album cover was censored in the states, as Gary explains:

“It’s a fold out and a continuous front and back image of topless women, some of which are holding copies of the album. That’s (the censorship) typical of American morality, same thing with the Blind Faith album, taking off the bare-chested adolescent girl and putting on a picture of the band and I think is pretty consistent with our society of having a face of being puritan, but when you scratch the surface, there’s a lot more there than perhaps how we like to present things.”

In our last article, we will continue our discussion about album cover art and see what lies ahead, not only for vinyl records, but the digital world as well.


Mini Clubman "Record Player"

It never ceases to amaze me what kinds of listening experiences one can get with our wonderful vinyl record. In my never ending search to keep you informed, I have this unique little Mini Clubman Vinyl Killer Record Player for you to look at.

Visionaire 53 is a collection of five 12-inch vinyl “picture disc” records that are packaged inside a sleek domed case. While we’re sure that the selection of sound pieces by artists ranging from U2, David Byrne, Michael Stipe, Robert Wilson and Cat Power, among others, are riveting, we’re slightly more interested in the record player provided to listen to them.

The compilation comes with what’s called a Mini Clubman “Vinyl Killer” record player. The portable music maker is battery operated, “driving” along the groves in the record to produce the sound. There’s a tiny speaker built right into the top of the miniature Clubman, and though we can’t imagine the sound is terribly powerful, we can’t help but really want one anyway. Unfortunately, Visionaire 53 runs a steep $250 for one of the 4,000 total copies to be sold. Perhaps not a bad deal for the vinyl record enthusiast that has to have everything, and as a collector, I certainly want one!

For more information:

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

This Day In Music History- Feb 27

Pink Floyd recorded their first single, "Arnold Layne," at Sound Techniques Studio in London in 1967. It reached #20 on the British singles chart.

'Pearl,' the album that Janis Joplin was making at the time of her death, hits #1 on the album charts in 1971, where it will stay for nine weeks.

1982-'Damn the Torpedoes' is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ first album to be certified platinum (one million copies sold).

In 1970, Jefferson Airplane was fined $1,000 for onstage profanity in Oklahoma City.

James Brown was paroled from prison after serving two years on drug and assault charges in 1991.

Keith Richards was arrested for heroin possession in Toronto in 1977. Police find heroin, cocaine and narcotics paraphernalia. Authorities accuse Richards of intending to traffic the drugs but Keith’s attorney claims his client’s drug problem is so extreme all the drugs are for his personal use.

Jamie Foxx wins a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Ray Charles in the movie, "Ray" in 2005.

The Miracles make their first TV appearance, on "American Bandstand" in 1960.

Today in 1961, the song "Pony Time" by Chubby Checker topped the charts and stayed there for 3 weeks.

In 2003, a lawyer for Great White's tour manager says the band had permission from a Rhode Island nightclub to use pyrotechnics at their fatal Feb. 20 show. Ninety-six people died after the club caught fire. The Boston Herald reports the band's record sales are up following the tragedy.

Journey founder and Santana guitarist Neal Schon was born in San Mateo, CA in 1954.

In 1956, Specialty Records released Little Richard's "Slippin' and Slidin'." The song becomes the pianist's first R&B No. 1, while its flip side, "Long Tall Sally," becomes his first top 10 pop hit.

1990 - Milli Vanilli's Rob Pilatus shared his perspective on life with Time magazine. In the interview he said, "Musically, we're more talented than any Bob Dylan or Paul McCartney. Mick Jagger can't produce a sound. I'm the new Elvis." In a related story, it was reported that pigs fly.

Cindy Wilson (The B-52's) was born in Athens, GA in 1957.

Lynyrd Skynyrd vocalist (since ‘87 - replacing the late Ronnie Van Zant), Johnny Van Zant, was born in 1960.

In 2007, an album featuring the children of well-known musicians performing their parent's hits is available exclusively in Target stores. "Song For My Father " includes Salvador Santana's rendition of "Evil Ways" and Devon Allman's version of "Midnight Rider."

In 1980, The Doobie Brothers' "What a Fool Believes" wins a Grammy Award for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year, while Billy Joel's "52nd Street" wins both Album of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder recorded "Ebony and Ivory" in 1981, which will top both the Billboard Pop chart and the Adult Contemporary chart during a 15 week run.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sony's New Toy For Consumers

LAS VEGAS, Feb 26, 2008 /PRNewswire

Providing a clever approach for converting vinyl records to digital files, Sony today unveiled a turntable system with USB output. Got a stack of old records that you would like to get onto your iPod? Sony's PS-LX300USB may be just what you need. The turntable can be connected to any standard Windows PC via a USB cable, where your 33 1/3rpm albums or 45rpm singles can be captured and edited via the included Sound Forge Audio Studio software. Prefer to listen the old-fashioned way? The PS-LX300USB also works as a standard record player--just connect it to a receiver with a dedicated phono input (or, with the help of a phono preamp, any standard stereo input will do).

It offers a belt drive system for reduced motor noise and rotational stability, in addition to a static balance tone arm with a bonded diamond stylus for precise tracking and low record wear. A supplied moving-magnet phonograph cartridge and built-in phonograph pre-amp allows for compatibility with A/V receivers without a phonograph input.

The turntable is packaged with Sound Forge Audio Studio software for simple professional-quality audio editing and production on a home computer, allowing for MP3 playback on portable music players.

How does it compare with USB turntables from Ion and Stanton? We'll find out when the $150 PS-LX300USB hits stores in March

Album Cover Art History

Forty Years That Changed Society

by Robert Benson

In part two of our four-part discussion with Vinyl Record Day Founder and vinyl businessman Gary Freiberg ( &, we focus our attention on the history of album cover art.

CDs and computer files fail to give an artist or group a proper canvas in which to display their visual art, to help create an image of who the group is. After all, not everyone buys a record strictly for the music.

“Album cover art historically catered to recognizing some customers will purchase an album just for the cover art,” said Gary Freiberg. “Now this commercial pursuit, perhaps the most creative product packaging there has ever been, has become an American art form with significant social importance.”

“Album cover art is a unique depiction of the evolution of our society,” explained Gary. “Since it was first introduced in 1939-40 it has evolved both in format and subject matter. Initially album covers were drawn illustrations; Alex Steinweiss, the creator of the art form, has a strong European poster influence. Steinweiss covers are among the few that are “signed” by the artist; his name is typically along the right side edge on the front of the album cover he designed. In the fifties technology advancements in photography replaced illustrated covers with head shots and scenes depicting “typical” life at the time, everyone was white, wore a tie or cocktail dress and had perfect children. It was Sgt. Pepper that changed it all graphically, creativity zoomed after that release and compared to what had been, the gloves came off on what was acceptable.”

Freiberg continues, “However; regardless of the graphic method, album cover art has always depicted our social values, racial attitudes, lifestyles, fashion and political views in a way that is only seen in the art form. It reflected who we were, who we were supposed to be, and at times, led who we became.”

Discussing the roots of album cover art Gary Freiberg adds, “When Alex Steinweiss was hired by newly formed Columbia Records to be their art director, he was the first in the industry to create advertising material to promote a company’s musicians. His background was in poster art and was heavily influenced by French and German artists. Steinweiss had a logical idea; he suggested discerning different artists and their music by having art on the paper packaging in place of the plain brown paper packaging that was customary when individual records were first introduced. The brown wrapped records promoted the record company; there was no promotion for the artist or the music other than the hole in the center that allowed reading what the record was. The idea had merit since there were no record stores, records were sold in the back of appliance stores. Steinweiss argued an art cover would make the customer stop, pick up and want to look at the record. Thus a better likelihood they would buy it. One of the first attempts, a record of Beethoven ‘hits’ had an 800% increase in sales.”

“History has shown this was pure genius, not just because it revolutionized the marketing of music, but for the accidental visual recording of a society that dramatically changed in the forty year tenure of album cover art.”

Continuing, Freiberg says, “Steinweiss may have been the catalyst to change the visual representation in album cover art but it was the record companies that brought the social changes into visual form. Several record companies, Specialty Records, who gave Little Richard, Larry Williams and others their break, the Jazz label Bluenote and later Motown, were particularly influential in promoting civil rights when this country was experiencing race relation changes that had been building for years.”

“Like Specialty, Bluenote was distinctive in that they did not hide their black artists on the album cover. It was common, with some exception, for record companies to hide black artists from public view,” said Gary.

“Were they racist or just reflecting society?” Freiberg rhetorically asked. “Having a black artist on the cover was very socially controversial at the time.” He then quickly adds, “But doing so was a reflection of what was happening in society at large and was a part of the puzzle that coalesced into legislation changing racial equality.”

Asked about the influence of the respected Bluenote label, Freiberg explains what made this company revered among record companies.

“They had a very, very unique and cohesive integration; the recording, the pressing and album cover art were all combined to present the product. There leadership was not confined to who they put on the album cover. Designer Reed Miles was the primary graphic artist and he wanted to know the mood and the intent of each one of the records that Bluenote produced. His goal was to then integrate the cover art so that it would reflect and be consistent with the mood of the music. It was a step forward that other companies emulated but perhaps not until Sgt. Pepper accomplished.”

In our next article, we will discuss the Beatles’ majestic and historic Sgt. Pepper album with Gary and why it is so popular and innovative, as well its role in the historic album covers of all time.


YouTube Videos

YouTube has some fascinating videos and I will share a few that have captured my interest:




Wearing their art on their sleeve

As I have stated before, every now and then I read a great article and like to share it with my readers. Author Joe Burns was kind enough to allow me to reprint his wonderful article about picture sleeves. Joe's article originally was printed here:

Wearing their art on their sleeve

By Joe Burns

YARMOUTH - It was never just for the record.

Back when vinyl was the final word in music marketing, the picture sleeves that covered the doughnut-hole 45 RPMs served as more than dust protectors; they were colorful come-ons designed not only to sell the single, but the artist as well.

Less common and more fragile than their LP cover cousins, they’ve become scarcer over the years. Ripped, discarded, soiled and written on, many didn’t make it past the ‘50s and ‘60s. Fortunately some survived and were rescued by Chip Bishop of West Dennis, who’ll be exhibiting items from his collection of pop culture artifacts starting Feb. 20 at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod in South Yarmouth.

Bishop’s introduction to record sleeve art began 51 years ago, in Woonsocket, R.I, when he was 12-years-old.

“I wanted to have a career in radio,” Bishop says, recalling his boyhood ambitions. “For Christmas I got a tiny little radio transmitter and I set up my own radio station in the basement of my parents’ home. Bishop’s AM radio signal reached about a mile, but that was far enough to find an audience, and soon he was getting requests.

“I started collecting records for my little pirate radio station, whatever I could afford. It was 79 cents a record at the time. I could afford maybe one or two a week,” Bishop says. “And that’s how it started.”

When he was 15 Bishop began hanging out at a real radio station — WWON in Rhode Island, which proved to be a boon for his record collection.

“The manager of the radio station would give me all the records that they weren’t going to play. They were an adult music station and they weren’t going to play Little Richard, Fats Domino and Elvis so he gave me the records,” Bishop says. “That led to a lifetime of collecting that was interrupted by college and getting married and raising a family. But I got back to it and started hitting yard sales and flea markets.”

Picture sleeves weren’t on Bishop’s mind when he was a boy.

“That was a bonus,” he says.

But by the 1970s Bishop’s interest in the art that accompanied the records was piqued by collectors’ magazines that began to feature them.

“It turns out that the sleeves are more valuable than the records because relatively few of them survived,” Bishop says.

At one time his collection of 45s was up to 4,000. That number has since been sliced nearly in half. The large majority of those records don’t have picture sleeves. Most are protected with the more common paper jacket with the hole in the middle to display the record label. Bishop says the less common picture sleeves came into their own in the era of the teen idols, when girls would buy records and pin the pictures up on their walls.

“It started for real with the coming of Elvis in the mid-‘50s. They were marketing tools, often times to introduce an artist who people weren’t familiar with,” Bishop says, noting that as rock and pop stars were being turned into movie stars, the sleeves were also a means of promoting movies such as “High School Confidential” (Jerry Lee Lewis) and “Where The Boy Are” (Connie Francis).

”It took off again in the mid-‘60s when The Beatles came on to the scene, because Americans didn’t know who these British lads were,” says Bishop whose collection also includes art from that period as well.

Picture sleeves didn’t end with that era, those 7-inch squares of art are still found today, protecting, new vinyl recordings, but you won’t find them in Bishop’s collection. He’ll be showing about 200 sleeves mostly from the ‘50s and the ‘60s and across a wide range of music from Little Richard to Annette and everything in between. Also on display will be a vintage record player from the era. CDs custom made by Bishop for the occasion will provide musical accompaniment.

The covers, along with the vinyl discs that they protected, provided something that, in this day of iPods and MP3s, most miss out on – the sensory experience that comes from handling a record and admiring the artwork.

“In this word of downloading music they don’t get that,” says Bishop, using a non-monetary measure in determining their value.

“They’re old friends from my youth,” he says. “Great memories from a much simpler time.”

Monday, February 25, 2008

This Day In Music History- Feb 25

The late George Harrison was born in 1943.

In 1957, Buddy Holly recorded "That'll Be the Day" at Norman Petty's studio in Clovis, New Mexico. The single is released on the Brunswick label (a Decca subsidiary) and credited to the Crickets.

Van Halen hits their first #1 with "Jump" in 1984.

The Beatles first U.S. single ("Please Please Me"/"Ask Me Why" on Chicago's Vee-Jay Records) was released (and Dick Biondi of WLS radio in Chicago plays the "A" side-- the first U.S. DJ to play a Beatles tune) in 1963.

Elvis Presley performed his first post-Army concert (and first since 1957), a charity benefit in Memphis in 1961.

Today in 1995 the song "Take a Bow," by Madonna topped the charts and stayed there for 7 weeks.

In 2004, Chicago-based blues saxophonist, vocalist, songwriter and bandleader A.C. Reed dies from cancer complications. He was 77. Reed played with the likes of Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

A wig reported to cost $10,000 is stolen from Cher's dressing room during the Richmond, Va., stop of her Living Proof tour in 2003. The wig is returned two weeks later. (She does have hair, doesn’t she?)

Also in 2003, Paul McCartney and his band performed at the 50th birthday of fan Wendy Whitworth in San Diego. Whitworth's husband paid $1 million to McCartney, who donated his fee to the Adopt-a-Minefield charity.

In 1998, Bob Dylan won three Grammys, including Best Album for his career renaissance Time out of Mind. While performing a song from the album, he is interrupted by a rogue performance artist with the words "soy bomb" painted on his chest. (Soy Bomb? How about “Hi Mom?”)

In 1990, Johnnie Ray, the Sultan of Sob, dies of liver failure at age 63. Despite having to wear a hearing aid since he was 14, Ray was one of the '50s' most popular vocalists, recording the No. 2 hit "Just Walking in the Rain."

In 1965, The Rolling Stones performed their just-released single "The Last Time" on the British rock show Ready! Steady! Go!.

Bluegrass titan Ralph Stanley was born in Stratton, Va. in 1927.

Toy Caldwell, lead singer for The Marshall Tucker band on their 1977 million seller, "Heard It In A Love Song", died in his sleep on February 25th at the age of 45 in 1993.

The first musical choreography score was copyrighted in 1952. It was Cole Porter's "Kiss Me Kate".

It was announced that Britney Spears would be releasing her own brand of bubble gum, "Britney Spears CD Bubble Gum", in March of 2000. (So that’s how she has made her money!)

Drummer Dennis Diken (The Smithereens) started his life in 1957.

"The Grand Illusion" peaks at #6 in 1978. It’s the first platinum album for Styx.

U2 began their first full U.S. tour in 1985.

In 2005, Shinedown and Tesla headline a benefit concert in Providence, RI, for survivors of the February 2003 fire at the Station nightclub.

The Alarm’s vocalist/guitarist Mike Peters was born 1959.

Nancy Sinatra received her first gold record in 1966 for "These Boots Are made for Walkin'". Her second was shared with her father Frank in 1967 for "Something Stupid".

Enjoy the Show

Preserve and Display Your Album Cover Art

By Robert Benson

In this introduction to a four part series about album cover art we will explore several elements of this creative and personal art form with Vinyl Record Day Founder and album frame innovator Gary Freiberg. ( & We’ll look at historic and controversial album covers, the differences in album cover framing, learn about a growing organization called Vinyl Record Day and see what’s in the future for album cover art. But first, let’s introduce Gary, vinyl preservationist and businessman.

Gary Freiberg is a vinyl enthusiast, historian and preservationist. He is respected internationally as an expert in album cover art. In fact, esteemed programs from the BBC to NPR have featured his insights into an American art form whose repercussions have been felt around the world. His immense interest in vinyl cover art led Freiberg to develop his innovative and patented “Record Album Frame.”

“I’m humbled, and as an avid collector, proud our record album frame that started one evening as a drawing on the back of a paper napkin and has now been chosen by the Smithsonian for exhibit, Home & Garden TV, sold at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as well as thousands of Internet purchasers,” explained Gary. “The industry accolades are appreciated but it’s the customer comments, people we don’t know who have said so many nice things about our frame that is particularly gratifying. Rock Art Picture Show started from my interest in album cover art and I truly believe we have become a leader in the field for the same reason my wife and I had the conversation that led to the napkin drawing. It’s the look; our matted display and patented framing technique creates, and I know this sounds biased, the best display for album cover art. We received our patent because of innovation, just slide your vinyl record into our acrylic frame to matte and frame your album cover instantly, no clips, no assembly and easy to change. There’s a saw tooth hanger that is attached on the back, an album cover is framed and matted for wall display in less than a minute.”

I asked Gary what exactly is the allure, what makes album cover art so appealing? His reply was the abstract feel of music.

“It’s the most personable art form there is. We can appreciate the Rembrandt’s and Picasso’s as fine art but we don’t relate to their work personally, we don’t attach our emotion with fine art. Music is the primary vehicle to our memory of good times and good people, Dick Clark called it the soundtrack of our lives. At times cover art is part of that emotional connection we have with music. Anyone who has owned a record collection has spent time pouring over an album cover while listening to the music; the mental connection is a unified package of cover art and the musical experience. A universal example is the Beatles Sgt. Pepper album. Just mentioning that album conjures up a mental picture of the cover art aside from any emotion associated with the music. The allure of album cover art is- it triggers our personal positive connection to music, the appeal is the incredible creativity of the art form, the visual presentation of an album cover draws the viewer’s attention because we relate to it whether we owned the album or not, album cover art represents the era we alone define as important and influential to who we are today.”

Freiberg also believes album cover art depicts the many cultural aspects and changes society has gone through unlike any other art form.

“Fashion, politics, racial views, lifestyles, we can follow our cultural evolution through album cover art. The early fifties have Mom’s in cocktail dresses, Dad in a tie and the kids scrubbed and fresh,” detailed Gary. “The Beatles and Stones encouraged kids to have long hair in the sixties, John Travolta sold a lot of white disco suits, and each era has its own personality and fashion that is communicated through both the music and the accompanying cover art. We see black artists omitted from their album covers, no pictures front or back. The Chantels album cover took the group of four black women off the cover when their hit “Maybe” went national and replaced them with white teenagers. Album cover art captured our history in its quest to be commercially successful. The art form began in an effort to sell more records and through all the creativity and versatility throughout its forty year history, never lost that as the primary objective.”

And there is more to the story. Album cover art is also used as a marketing tool. As an artist or a group you would want your LP to stand out among the crowd. Album cover art is taken very seriously; it is a method to introduce band members or an image that the band wants you to associate with their music. For decades album cover design was a unique imagery forum of commercial art. And the 12" by 12" canvas was all that some famous artists needed to promote the band and their music.

I must admit, I was impressed reading the Customer Comments on the web site ( In this world of cyber space, Rock Art Picture Show is not, according to the comments, some faceless corporation; they seem to treat their customers in a very personable way.

“I sincerely appreciate anyone coming by to check out our web site. I view customers as friends who have a common appreciation for the love of cover art and are helping to preserve the art form. My goal, sincerely, is for everyone who selects our frames to get the same enjoyment I get from displaying album covers,” related Gary.

In our next article, we will explore and learn more about album cover art, but in the meantime, stop by and enjoy the show.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

$3M Bid for Record Collection Is a Fraud

This from the Ap wire: 23 hours ago

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A winning bid of $3 million for a huge record collection offered on eBay was apparently a fraud.

A bidder had claimed he would shell out $3,002,150 for the collection of nearly 3 million vinyl albums, singles and CDs being sold by Paul Mawhinney, 68, of Ross Township.

An agent for the sale, J. Paul Henderson, said an eBay executive notified him Friday night that the bid was not legitimate and that the bidder's account had been suspended, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Mawhinney said he began collecting the records when he opened his record shop, Record Rama, in 1968. He closed it Thursday, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.

"I am legally blind," he said. "I had a couple of strokes a few years ago ... and it's time at my age to think about doing something else with my life."

Mawhinney said Saturday that he had already contacted six other bidders who had pledged more than $3 million on eBay and three others who approached him independently.

"It's still going to happen," he told The Associated Press.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

This Day In Music History- Feb 23

Brad Whitford of Aerosmith was born in 1952.

In 2000, Carlos Santana swept the 42nd Grammy Awards, winning in nine categories.

"Crazy Little Thing Called Love" tops the chart for the first of four weeks in 1980. Queen's first #1 hit also marks the first time singer Freddie Mercury plays guitar on record. Freddie Mercury wrote it while in the bath.

Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" (also know as the theme to the movie 'The Exorcist') debuts on the singles chart in 1974.

Melvin Franklin of the Temptations ("My Girl") died of a brain seizure in 1995.

Little Richard receives a Lifetime Achievement Grammy award in 1993.
In 1970, Ringo Starr made his first solo TV appearance, on NBC's "Laugh In" (exactly six years after the Beatles' third "Ed Sullivan Show" appearance on CBS).

Simon & Garfunkel sing together for the first time in ten years as they receive a Lifetime Achievement Grammy award in 2003.

Today in 1991, the song "All the Man That I Need" by Whitney Houston topped the charts and stayed there for 2 weeks.

Twenty people are injured when ticketless fans try to gatecrash a Rolling Stones concert in Buenos Aires in 2006. Police use rubber bullets and tear gas to control the unruly crowd. (and Geritol for the band)

In 1974, Led Zeppelin decided to call their own record label Swan Song. Names turned down include Superhype, Slag, Eclipse, Deluxe, and that old reliable, Sh*t.

Texan blues guitarist Johnny Winter is born in Beaumont in 1944.
Among the albino's hit albums is 1973's Still Alive and Well.

"Eight Arms To Hold You," was one suggested title for The Beatles’ second film, "Help!" They began filming in the Bahamas in1965.

The Doors do it again. “Morrison Hotel/Hard Rock CafĂ©” becomes The Doors’ fifth straight gold album in 1970.

In 1978, the Eagles win the Record of the Year Grammy for “Hotel California” but don’t bother to show up. Fleetwood Mac picks up the statue for Best Album of the Year, “Rumours.”

A lack of business forces the legendary Muscle Shoals Studio in Sheffield Alabama to close its doors in 2005. The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Aretha Franklin were among the legends that recorded there.

Elvis and Priscilla Presley separated in 1972 after four years and one child, Lisa Marie.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Abbey Road Album Cover

The album Cover for The Beatles' "Abbey Road" LP is one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century. The Fab Four are walking across a street in a straight line and dressed their ‘normal ‘attire’ for the time.

Also in this famous shot of the Beatles walking across London’s Abbey Road is a man staring at them in the distance. That man was Paul Cole. Cole, a longtime resident of Barefoot Bay, Florida.

Cole explained in 2004 how he came to be there at that precise moment for the front cover of the group’s classic 1969 album.

On a London vacation with his wife, Cole declined to enter a museum on the north London thoroughfare.

“I told her, ‘I’ve seen enough museums. You go on in, take your time and look around and so on, and I’ll just stay out here and see what’s going on outside,’” he recalled.

Parked just outside was a black police van. “I like to just start talking with people,” Cole said. “I walked out, and that cop was sitting there in that police car. I just started carrying on a conversation with him. I was asking him about all kinds of things, about the city of London and the traffic control, things like that. Passing the time of day.”

In the picture, Cole is standing next to the police van.

It was 10 a.m., Aug. 8, 1969. Photographer Iain McMillan was on a stepladder in the middle of the street, photographing the four Beatles as they walked, single-file, across Abbey Road, John Lennon in his famous white suit, Paul McCartney without shoes. The entire shoot lasted 10 minutes.

“I just happened to look up, and I saw those guys walking across the street like a line of ducks,” Cole remembered. “A bunch of kooks, I called them, because they were rather radical-looking at that time. You didn’t walk around in London barefoot.”

About a year later, Cole first noticed the “Abbey Road” album on top of the family record player (his wife was learning to play George Harrison’s love song “Something” on the organ). He did a double-take when he eyeballed McMillan’s photo.

“I had a new sportcoat on, and I had just gotten new shell-rimmed glasses before I left,” he says. “I had to convince the kids that that was me for a while. I told them, ‘Get the magnifying glass out, kids, and you’ll see it’s me.’”

And so it goes, a famous LP with a not so famous gent, who just happened to be there.


This from the AP wire, that massive record collection has been sold on ebay:

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Paul Mawhinney has gotten rid of his old records. But it wasn't at a garage sale. The Pittsburgh-area man has sold his collection of nearly three million albums for just over three million bucks. The massive cache includes vinyl albums, singles and CDs. Mawhinney, who's legally blind, says he now can afford to retire. The buyer of the record collection is from Ireland. An eBay spokesman says the three mil price tag is 1 of the highest ever on the Internet auction site.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

This Day In Music History- Feb 21

Janet Vogel of the Skyliners ("Since I Don't Have You") dies of carbon monoxide poisoning in 1980.

In 1964, Elvis Presley's "Kissin' Cousins" movie is sneak previewed in North Long Beach, California (it opens nationwide in April).

In 2004, pop/opera singer Charlotte Church turned 18, thereby gaining control of a trust fund made up of $30 million of her earnings.

Disc jockey, Murray "The K" Kaufman, died of cancer on February 21st, 1982 at the age of 60. Kaufman's influence on rock and roll and its audience led the Beatles to seek him out when they first came to America in 1964. Kaufman's friendship with the group earned him the nickname "The Fifth Beatle".

1970- Having been in release for only 15 weeks, Led Zeppelin II approaches sales of 2million.

Steve Wynn, Dream Syndicate founder and a leader of the Paisley Underground, was born in Los Angeles in 1960.

Contemporary country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter was born in Princeton, N.J. in 1958.
Music industry kingpin David Geffen was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1943.

New Orleans R&B singer Bobby Charles ("See You Later, Alligator") was born in Abbeville, LA in 1938.

Soulful jazz singer Nina Simone was born Eunice Waymon in Tryon, N.C. in 1933.

The Jackson 5 made their TV debut on "American Bandstand" In 1970.

In 1964, a New York band called The Echoes recruited a new, young piano player named Billy Joel.

1970- Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" entered the UK albums chart at number 1 and stayed there for 12 consecutive weeks. It would return to the top seven times, spending a total of 41 weeks there over the next two years. In the US, it spent 10 weeks at number 1 on the strength of three top 10 singles, and was the number 7 album of the decade in America.

In 1976, the Four Seasons attained their only UK #1 hit with "December '63 (Oh What A Night).”

In 1981, Dolly Parton topped the Billboard Pop Chart with her own composition, "9 to 5.”

Also in 1981, REO Speedwagon started a 15 week run at the top of the Billboard album chart with "Hi Infidelity.”

In 1987, "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King topped the UK singles chart, after it was featured in a movie by the same name. The song first became a hit in 1961.

Milli Vanilli were awarded the Best New Artist Grammy in 1990 (oops). It would take until the following November for producer Frank Farian to confess that the duo never actually sang a single note on their recordings.

Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads is born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1949.

In 1964, the Rolling Stones crack the U.K. Top 10 for the first time with a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away.”

Sublime bassist (’88 – ’96), Eric Wilson, entered the world in 1970.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

This Day In Music History- Feb 19

In 1994, Green Day’s Dookie” began its two year stay on the U.S. album chart. The group’s third studio album rises to #2 and sells over 12 million copies.

In 1966, Janis Joplin made her debut as the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company.

In 1997, Motley Crue were cleared of responsibility for a concertgoer's hearing loss. The fan sued the band for $7 million, but a judge ruled that he knew the concert would be loud when he bought the ticket. (Duh!)

Neo-bluesman Taj Mahal played Hollywood's Palimino Club in 1987. Significant because by the end of the gig, he's been joined onstage by George Harrison, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, and Jesse Ed Davis.

# 1 on the American pop singles chart in 1977 was Manfred Mann's Earth Band's cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light." Ironically, Springsteen himself hasn't even had a top 20 single yet.

made their TV debut on "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert" in 1974.

1972 saw Paul McCartney release the controversial single "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" in the U.K. Predictably, the BBC bans it.

Singer Seal ("Kiss From a Rose") was born Sealhenry Samuel in Paddington, England in 1963. (Sealhenry?)

In 1957, Austrian pop star Falco ("Rock Me Amadeus") was born in Vienna as Johann Holzl.

Peter Holsapple, who went from dB's main man to R.E.M.'s sideling to Continental Drifter, was born today in 1956.

In 1955, Dot Records introduced its newest star to Billboard readers with a big advertisement reading: "A Great New Voice - Pat Boone." In April, his single "Two Hearts" goes to No. 16.

Tony Iommi, the legendary guitarist with Black Sabbath, was born in Birmingham, England in 1948.

Smokey Robinson, leader of the Motown vocal group the Miracles, was born in Detroit in 1940.

Tower of Power member Rich Stevens (he sang lead on "You're Still A Young Man") was arrested (later convicted) for a drug-related triple homicide in San Jose, California, in 1976.

In 1972, Sammy Davis, Jr. guest starred on CBS-TV's "All In The Family,” giving Archie Bunker a very famous kiss. (the “Candyman” delivers!)

In 1980, Bon Scott, the lead singer of heavy metal band AC/DC, died in London at the age of 33. He died as a result of choking on his own vomit after drinking heavily.

In 1981, George Harrison was ordered to pay ABKCO Music the sum of $587,000 for "subconscious plagiarism" between his song, "My Sweet Lord" and the Chiffons "He's So Fine."

In 1964, a British company shipped a half ton of Beatle wigs to the US.

1966, Lou Christie enjoyed his only US number one record with "Lightnin' Strikes", a song that his record company, MGM, hated so much, they initially refused to release. Christie also turns 65 today.

Although he had written songs that were recorded by The Turtles, Rick Nelson, Blood Sweat and Tears, Lulu, The Monkees and Three Dog Night, Harry Nilsson had his only US number one hit in 1972 with the song "Without You", a tune that was written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger.

3 million records and 300,000 CDs for $3 million starting bid

World's Largest Music Collection For Sale

From Thomas Edison to American Idol, this is the complete history of the music that shaped and defined five generations. 3 million records and 300,000 CDs containing more than 6 million song titles. It’s the undisputed largest collection of recorded music in the world. About half of the recordings are new and never played, and every genre of 20th century music is represented. There are countless rare recordings worth hundreds, or even thousands of dollars each on the collectibles market. Organized and cataloged, the collection is meticulously maintained and housed in a climate-controlled warehouse. The estimated value of this amazing collection is more than $50 million.

Every recording in the collection was purchased by the collection’s owner over the past fifty years and represents a lifetime of work and his desire to see the music preserved for future generations. Advancing age and health concerns are forcing the owner to sell.

The history of 20th century music belongs in a museum (existing or new), or a music library. The collection’s owner is seeking a private collector or a philanthropist willing to buy and donate the collection. A donation would qualify as a tax-deductible event. The collection contains many thousands of duplicate copies, which could be sold individually on the collectibles market to recoup a substantial part of the purchase price.

Payment terms are 10% of the purchase price within five business days, by certified check, bank transfer or PayPal, and the balance by certified check or bank transfer within 30 business days. The owner will ship anywhere in the world, and the buyer pays actual packing and shipping costs from Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

For complete details on the collection and the seller, go to

Monday, February 18, 2008

Vinyl Records- Top 5 eBay Sales

Vinyl Records Top 5 eBay Sales Week Ending 01/27/2008

1) 45rpm - The Misfits "Horror Business" (Signed) - Ending Selling Price- $14,301.38 Starting Bid: $4,999.99 Bids: 18

2) 45rpm - Ray Pollard "This Time (I'm Gonna Be True)" / "No More Like Me" Shrine 103 - Ending Selling Price-$3,060.00 Starting Bid: $4.99 Bids: 32

3) LP - Bob Dylan "Vol. 4" Japan White Label Promo w/ OBI - Sold At- $2,799.99 Starting Bid $2,799.99 Bids: 1

4) 45rpm - Willie Wright "Right On Darkness" - Ending Selling Price- $2,716.00 Starting Bid: $129.99 Bids: 22

5) LP - Vashti "Bunyan" - Ending Selling Price- $2,300.00 Starting Bid: $9.99 Bids: 23

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Don't Throw Out Those Old Records!

Check out these outrageous silhouettes by artist Carlos Aires. These are made by laser cutting old vinyl records. A fun thing to hang on your wall for sure and a great way to 'recycle' worn out vinyl!

I found this wonderful concept here:

This Day In Music History- Feb 17

Bobby Lewis ("Tossin' & Turnin'") turns 75.

Dodie Stevens ("Pink Shoelaces") is 62.

Bill Cowsill of the Cowsills ("The Rain, The Park And Other Things") dies of emphysema in 2006.

Little Richard sent his first audition tape to future label Specialty Records in 1955.

The first Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass concert was held, in Los Angeles in 1964.

In 2006, the Rolling Stones topped Forbes Magazine's list of the top money-makers in US music for 2005. The wrinkly rockers made $168 million in record and ticket sales that year. (they are retired now, aren’t they?...I know they are not dead)

In 1988, after a 12-year-old Florida boy sets his legs on fire and suffers burns over 10 percent of his body, Motley Crue warned their fans not to try anything they see in their "Live Wire" video. The boy was emulating one of the stunts done by the band in the clip.

In 1982 jazz Piano giant Thelonious Monk, passed away at age 64.

Eck Roberson, who was considered to be the first musician to lay down a fiddle on a country track, died in 1975 at age 87.

In 1971, on The Johnny Cash Show, James Taylor is unveiled to prime-time audiences. He performed "Fire and Rain" and "Carolina on My Mind."

Performing at London's Royal Albert Hall in 1970, Joni Mitchell announces she is retiring from live performance. She changes her mind within the year.

In 1968, following their first New York performance at the Anderson Theatre, Big Brother & the Holding Company were signed by Columbia Records.

In 1960, Elvis Presley received his first gold album for his Elvis debut on RCA.

The wonderful experimental guitarist Fred Frith was born in Britain in 1949.

The great Gene Pitney, who vocalized the immortal "24 Hours From Tulsa," was born in Hartford, Conn in 1941. The talented fellow also wrote the songs "Hello Mary Lou," "He's a Rebel" and "Rubber Ball" among others.

In 2001, the Manic Street Preachers become the first Western band to play Cuba when they rock Karl Marx Stadium in Havana. Fidel Castro, who's in attendance and knows the value of a good sound-bite, declares the gig to be "louder than war."

In 1960, the Everly Brothers signed with Warner Bros. Records in a 10-year contract worth $1 million.

Pink Floyd began a 4-night stand in London in 1972. During the stand they premiered "The Dark Side of the Moon" a full year before it was released.

In 1975, John Lennon released "Rock n' Roll." It was his last record before he left the music business for 5 years to become a ‘house husband’ and spend more time with Yoko (poor Mr. Lennon).

Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan had a recording session in Nashville, TN in 1969. "Girl from the North Country" was the only duet released from the session.

Gene Chandler had the top tune on the Billboard Pop chart in 1962 with "The Duke Of Earl", the first of his six US chart hits.

Today in 1958, the song "Sugartime" by McGuire Sisters topped the charts and stayed there for 4 weeks.

The Eagles release their "Greatest Hits" album in 1976. To this day, it is still the best selling record of all time.

Green Day’s guitarist/vocalist, Billie Joe Armstrong, entered the world in 1972.

War started a two-week run at #1 on the Billboard album chart in 1973 with "The World Is A Ghetto.”

Friday, February 15, 2008

This Day In Music History- Feb 15

Jerry Wexler, staff writer at 'Billboard' magazine, coined the term "Rhythm & Blues" in 1949, which becomes Billboard's official designation for African-American popular music.

In 1965, Nat King Cole died of lung cancer (Daughter Natalie had just turned 15 the previous week). Nat originally played piano in Jazz bands, but stepped to the front of the stage for good when "Mona Lisa" became a huge hit. He hit the charts again in 1991 when his voice was dubbed into a duet with Natalie on "Unforgettable".

The hotly anticipated, self-titled debut album by Led Zeppelin entered the album charts in 1969, ultimately reaching #10.

In 1972, with the expiration of John Lennon's U.S. non-immigrant visa, deportation proceedings began. Lennon will wage a four-year battle with the federal government to remain in the U.S.

In 1979, "Just the Way You Are" by Billy Joel wins Grammies for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

MTV premiered Madonna's "Like a Prayer" video in 1989.

Melissa Manchester ("Midnight Blue") is 57.

Denny Zager of Zager & Evans ("In The Year 2525") turns 64
Songwriter Brian Holland (wrote many hits for the Supremes and the Four Tops with his brother, Eddie and Lamont Dozier) is 67.

In 1961, Jackie Wilson was shot by Juanita Jones, a girlfriend who had gone to his New York apartment to confront him about another woman. Although he managed to escape and make it to a hospital, Wilson lost a kidney and would carry the bullet that was too close to his spine to be removed, for the rest of his life.

The group Chicago formed (as the "Big Thing") in 1967.

Although she would place 21 songs on the Billboard Top 40, Linda Ronstadt had her only number one hit with "You're No Good" in 1975.

Today in 1986, the song "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston topped the charts and stayed there for 2 weeks.

In 1984, Broadway star Ethel Merman died at age 75.

Electric Flag guitarist Michael Bloomfield, who also performed on Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, died of a drug overdose at age 37 in San Francisco in 1981. His body is discovered in his car.

Gino Vannelli ("People Gotta Move") became the first ‘white guy’ to perform on Soul Train in 1975.

1967 - The first laws concerning anti-bootlegging were enacted.

Incubus vocalist Brandon Boyd (middle) was born in Van Nuys, CA in 1976.

Mick Avory was born in East Molesey, Surrey, England in 1944. The drummer is with the Kinks from ’64 – ’84. He once auditioned for the Rolling Stones but was turned down.

In 1977, Sid Vicious joined the Sex Pistols, replacing Glen Matlock. The story goes Matlock was dumped because he “liked” The Beatles. The horror!

Fleetwood Mac released the album “Rumours” in 1977. The album features “Dreams,” “Go Your Own Way” and “You Make Loving Fun.”

Thursday, February 14, 2008

12 Rules of Crate Digging and Record Collecting Etiquette

I ran across this information and I wanted to share it with you because I think the gent who wrote it is right on target and I can certainly agree with the 12 rules. If you want to research this further, check out this splendid website:

12 Rules of Crate Digging and Record Collecting Etiquette

"A little while ago I was doing some thorough digging at a Chicagoland flea market when I ran across a dealer yelling at the top of his lungs that he had a box of 45’s for $5 to the first person that could find it in his pile of stuff. You better believe that your boy Semantik was the first person to find the stash and check out the goods. However, being the first to lay claim to the vinyl, I didn’t expect to have another record junkie hovering over me while I satisfied my digging fix. To make matters worse, the scrubby dude, probably in his late 40’s or early 50’s, started mumbling to himself about the titles in the box and was overcome with a crazed look in his eyes. I kept digging and after a while the guy left, but after I subdued the urge to practice the Karate Kid foot sweep, it occurred to me that not every record fiend is consciously aware that there’s a certain etiquette required of those who choose to partake this habit. This of course leads to… Crate Kings Digging and Record Collecting Etiquette 101."

1) Don’t hover over people already digging in a section, bin, or box that you would like to get into.

2) When using a portable turntable or record player, ask if it ok to sample the goods before using it. I’ve never been denied or questioned about its use and many times it sparks a pretty good conversation about music, which, more often than not, can lead to behind the counter items.

3) Learn to properly hold a record when checking the condition. I know this sounds a little rudimentary, but you’d be surprised how many beginners will pick up a pristine piece of vinyl and touch the flat surface with their fingers. The proper way to open a record is to gently pull out the inner sleeve, rotate the open side of the inner sleeve to the side, and allow gravity to let the record slide into the webbing of your hand in between the you thumb and index finger while balancing the record on the label opposite your vision using your middle and ring fingers. Using this technique will show that you know what you’re doing and respect the precious vinyl. Many dealers will clean or polish records to highlight the condition and support their asking price. Using the stance will also prevent you from getting funny looks from the already high strung cats behind the counter.

4) Do not scratch the records when listening to them. Another common sense rule that is ignored more often than you think. If the store provides a turntable for previewing items, please do not try to get a feel for the vinyl by giving it a quick backspin, scribble, or tear. It’s just not cool.

5) Do not dig outside of your bin or row if someone is digging next to you.

6) Move records that you’ve selected out of the way of those digging next to you.

7) If drinking a beverage, hold it away from the record bins and dig with one hand.

8) It’s ok to negotiate prices under certain conditions. Records shows and flea markets are always open game and aggressive price negotiation is not only welcomed, but expected.

9) Say hello when approaching dealer tables and lift your head up from the bins every now and then to show that you’re a sociable human being.
Unfortunately, many vinyl collectors and beat diggers have a well deserved reputation for being antisocial, isolated, and compulsive. Then again, dealers, also being collectors themselves, are often stranger than their clientele.

10) Put any items you are interested into a pile and keep it in your vicinity. If someone pulls something that you were interested in and you didn’t show reasonable effort to lay claim, then you’ve forfeited all claim to that record.

11) Place already items purchased from another store or dealer in a bag to avoid confusion about what record was gotten where.

12) Treat other people’s records like they are your own. What you pass over will ultimately end up in the collection of someone else and vice versa.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Digitizing Our Music Heritage

Music Conversion Is A Hot Commodity

By Robert Benson

The resurgence of vinyl records has followed many paths. From the ‘indie’ bands, who release colored vinyl or limited edition LP’s to the ‘classic rock’ artists who are re-releasing iconic albums, the role of vinyl records in our music landscape is changing.

Yes, people love their records, but there is a problem with vinyl, it is not portable. In the ‘iPod age’ music consumers want the convenience of digital music, but there is also a place for their treasured vinyl. In fact, we are seeing more and more ways to ‘convert’ vinyl to digital formats, to keep up with the digital age. USB turntables are flying off the shelves as well as all sorts of computer programs to help make records portable.

And seizing on this opportunity, there are a multitude of websites being made to allow music consumers to bypass the technical aspects of vinyl conversion to CD or MP3 formats. One such website,, is taking advantage of this boon by offering simple ‘sound packages’ where music lovers can have their vinyl records transferred onto CD or to MP3. I spoke with Heather of about their new endeavor to provide quality audio transfer services.

“We love music,” said Heather. “I play the guitar and love acoustic music, but my husband (Neil) is partial to punk, so we have quite an eclectic array of sounds in our household. We also realize that our customers love their music as well, therefore, we are guided by three simple principles to help bring their music to the 21st century.”

“We feel that our customers deserve to relive their music collections without having to max out a credit card, so the first thing we did was make our transfer services affordable,” detailed Heather. “Second, you should not have to suffer through a dizzying array of order options, add-ons and other charges, so we have made it very easy and simple; just choose the sound package that fits your needs. Our last principle is that we offer quality service, the customer is not just an order number and we can adapt to a specific need.”

I asked Heather why her and her husband decided to ‘open shop’ and provide this music transfer service.

“We grew up listening to records with our grandparents, from Disney stories to classical music. So, when these collections were passed down to us, we just had to find a way to share these pieces of family history with our own children,” detailed Heather. “So from our own family requesting the service offtherecord-online got started after we began offering our transferring services as a silent auction item for several local charities. We continue to support these charities, particularly Cottonwood Preschool and the SUDC (Sudden Unexpected Death in Children) Research fund. We also discovered that there were many music lovers out there that were looking for a way to transfer their cherished vinyl records to CD or MP3- without spending a small fortune. So we decided to go online and offer our services to music lovers in an affordable manner without compromising the sound quality-it is our top priority.”

But, with all the copyright laws and problems that come with re-recording music, is this all legal?

“In short, yes,” explained Heather. “A person has the legal right to make personal copies of music that they are in legal possession of, so it is certainly not illegal to pay someone to help you do it. That being said, we do insist that as part of this service a customer must fill out our legal waiver form stating that they are the sole possessor of the music that we are transferring and that they have no intention of distributing any copies that we make, for profit or otherwise.”

I inquired about the sound quality that offtherecord-online can provide.

“We guarantee our work and want our customers to be 100% satisfied. You will be impressed with the quality of music that comes through from the electronic cleaning process,” said Heather. “Our services literally bring new life and clarity to our customers cherished vinyl records. However, we also realize that by electronically ‘cleaning the music’ that too much can actually degrade the quality of the music, so it is our policy to strive for the best sound and find the optimum balance between removing as much of the pops, hisses and clicks that we can; while still preserving the original integrity of the records.”

“We also only accept a limited number of orders at once, so we can take the time to provide the customer with superb music quality and sound,” assured Heather.

So as this service becomes more popular and offtherecord-online starts to build a strong customer base, record lovers can rest easy that their beloved vinyl records are in capable hands. After all, this isn’t ‘rocket science,’ although the transfer services are being handled by one (Neil works as an aerospace engineer).

Offtherecord-online sample CD

Furthermore, archiving and conserving these old records is the ultimate way to preserve them. And offtherecord-online goes to great lengths to preserve the ‘look’ and integrity of the whole album, including front and back scans of the particular album cover for the jewel case inserts and even recording the albums on a CD that looks like a vinyl 45rpm record.

So as we listen to our ‘new recordings,’ we can rest easy knowing that it isn’t all about the money for, but rather it is all about the most important element of their services, the love of the music.

Laverne & Shirley Album

A while ago I picked up a unique record album called "Laverne & Shirley Sing." Back in the 70's, there was a trio of girls who appeared on the "Gong Show," and they went on and simulated a 'sex act' by licking popsicles very sensually. I was living in the EST time zone, so I was able to actually see this, as it was then caught by the censors and removed from the show for subsequent time zones and repeats. So, taking their cue from this infamous event, this image pokes a bit of fun on an incident that, at the time, caused quite a stir.

This Day In Music History- Feb 13

In 1973, the ‘fifth Beatle’ Billy Preston, hit #1 with the song "Will It Go Round in Circles" and #4 with "Space Race."

Buffalo Springfield's legendary “best-of album,” 'Retrospective', was released in 1969. It was later certified platinum, surpassing sales of one million.

Today in 1999, the song "Angel Of Mine" by Monica topped the charts and stayed there for 4 weeks.

Vocalist Henry Rollins (Black Flag/Henry Rollins Band) was born in Washington, D.C. in 1961.

Recorded in three days and costing less that $2,000 to produce, “Black Sabbath,” the group’s self-titled debut album, was unleashed on an unsuspecting world in 1970.

In 1973, "Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite," the soundtrack to an Elvis Presley TV Special, goes gold. Not surprising, since the program, broadcast two weeks earlier, was seen by more than one billion viewers.

The Country & Western duo of Buddy Holly and Bob Montgomery (Buddy & Bob) opened for Elvis Presley at a show in Lubbock, Texas in 1955.

The late "Tennessee" Ernie Ford ("Sixteen Tons") was born in 1919.

Peter Gabriel ("Games Without Frontiers" and one-time member of Genesis) turns 57.

Waylon Jennings died of complications from diabetes in 2002. At 21, he was a member of Buddy Holly's band who gave up his plane seat to the Big Bopper just before the doomed flight took off on February 3rd, 1959.

In 1981, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon’ became the longest-running rock album on the Billboard albums chart. It was on the charts for an amazing 402 weeks. But it still had a few more years to go before it beats Johnny Mathis, whose ‘Greatest Hits’ was on the chart for a whopping 490 weeks.

Led Zeppelin fans in Singapore were disappointed when the group was forced to cancel a concert there in 1972. Drugs? Immoral behavior? Foul mouths? Naw, the conservative country's officials wouldn't let the band members get off the plane because their hair was too long.

The Beatles released their definitive double-A-sided single, "Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields," in the 1967. It reached No. 1 in the States, but in their homeland, it made it only to No. 2.

Monkee Peter Tork was born in Washington, D.C., as Peter Halsten Thorkelston in 1942 (No wonder he changed it to ‘Tork’).

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (known as ASCAP) was formed in New York City in 1914. The society was founded to protect the copyrighted musical compositions of its members.

In 1957, Cuban officials announced a ban on all Rock & Roll programs on television, calling the music "offensive to public morals and good customs." They would soften their stance a couple of days later, but strict guide lines were put in place.

In 1961, Lawrence Welk gave hope to Rock & Roll hating parents when his instrumental "Calcutta" went to the top of the Billboard chart.

The Doors' "Touch Me" and Sly and the Family Stone's "Everyday People" were awarded gold records in 1969.

In 1971, six weeks after its chart debut, "One Bad Apple" by The Osmonds, reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed at #1 for 5 weeks. It was the first of ten Top 40 hits for the group.

In 1986, Rolling Stone magazine published the only known photograph of Blues legend Robert Johnson. (the photo was taken in a coin-operated photo booth in the early 30’s).

Monday, February 11, 2008

eBay record Sales Figures

Vinyl Records Top 5 eBay Sales-Week Ending 01/19/2008

1) LP - Hank Mobley self-titled LP Blue Note - $3500.00

2) 45 rpm - Jackie Day "Naughty Boy" / "I Want Your Love" Phelectron - $3,000.00

3) 45 rpm - Iron Maiden "Two Minutes To Midnight" Japanese Promo - $2,895.00

4) 78 rpm - Margaret Thornton "Jockey Blues" / "Texas Bound Blues" Black Patti - $2,4000.00

5) 45 rpm - New World "The World To-day" / "J.R." Virtue - $2,178.88

Vinyl Records Top 5 eBay Sales-Week Ending 01/12/2008

1) LP - U2 "Joshua Tree" Swedish Blue Vinyl - $4000.00

2) 45 rpm - Al Williams "I Am Nothing" / "Brand New Love" Palmer - $3,500.00

3) 45 rpm - Innersouls "Just Take Your Time" / "Thoughts" Plemmons - $2,469.44

4) 45 rpm - Elvis Presley "Milkcow Boogie Blues" / "You're A Heartbreaker" Sun 215 - $2,254.90

5) 45 rpm- Frankie Lyman "I'm Sorry" / "Sea Breeze" Big Apple - $1,901.00


Vinyl Records Top 5 eBay Sales-Week Ending 01/05/2008

1) 45 rpm - Freddie Butler "All Is Well" / "Save Your Love For Me" - $5,200.00

2) LP - Mariani "Perpetum Mobile" - $2,850.00

3) LP - Jutta Hipp "D.G. Flat" Blue Note Mono - $2,534.00

4) 45 rpm - Elvis Presley "That's All Right" / "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" - $1,726.99

5) LP - Billy Preston "Club Meeting" - $1,711.96


This Day In Music History- Feb 11

Birthday wishes to Eugene Vincent Craddock (a.k.a. Gene Vincent), who was born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1935. The leather-jacketed "Be-Bop-a-Lula" singer had an incalculable influence on British rockers like the Beatles and many others.

In 1956, Julia, John Lennon's mother, bought him his first guitar through a mail order ad. His incessant playing prompts John's Aunt Mimi to say, "The guitar's all very well as a hobby, John, but you'll never make a living out of it." John forms his first group, the Quarrymen.

America hit #1 in 1972 with the song "A Horse With No Name.”

In 1975, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers formed from the seeds of the disbanded Mudcrutch. The lineup: Tom Petty (vocals, guitar), Mike Campbell (guitar), Benmont Tench (keyboards), Ron Blair (bass), Stan Lynch (drums).

Brazilian lite-jazz kingpin Sergio Mendes ("The Fool On The Hill") turns 73.

Today in 1989, the song "Straight Up" by Paula Abdul topped the charts and stayed there for 3 weeks.

David Bowie performed his first gig as his Ziggy Stardust persona in Tollworth, England in 1972.

The Monkees saw their second album, "More of The Monkees" leap from position 122 to number 1 in 1967. The made-for-TV group only provided the vocals for the release but were backed by some of the finest studio musicians around, like Glen Campbell and Neil Sedaka. The L.P. contained the hits, "I'm a Believer" and "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" and was produced by Carole King, Tommy Boyce, among others. After being pressured by the press, The Monkees announced that they will play their own instruments on all future recordings.

In 1964, the Beatles performed their first American concert at Washington, D.C.'s Washington Coliseum. Also on the bill are Tommy Roe, the Chiffons, and the Caravelles.

Otis Clay, generally acknowledged as one of Chicago's finest deep soul singers, was born in Waxhaw, MS in 1942.

Pop lyricist Gerry Goffin was born in Queens, N.Y. in 1939. Working at the Brill Building, he wrote scores of classics with Carole King, including "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman.”

The single "Superbowl Shuffle," by the Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew was certified gold by the RIAA in 1986.

The third of four children, Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter, Sheryl Suzanne Crow, was born in Kennett, MO in 1962.

The Beatles finished recording their debut album in 1963. The songs like “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Boys” and “Twist And Shout,” along with assorted ballads, are the result of a marathon fourteen hour session. On top of it, Lennon had a bad cold. The last song recorded is "Twist And Shout" and Lennon nailed the song in one take. He had to, his voice was shot.

In 1967, the Turtles released their biggest hit, "Happy Together", which will reach #1 in the US in March.

The TV movie Elvis, starring Kurt Russell, aired on ABC in 1979, with an estimated audience of 43 million viewers tuning in.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

This Day In Music History- Feb 9

Songwriter and '70s solo superstar Carole King was born Carole Klein in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1942. Her hits included "Up On the Roof" and "You've Got a Friend."

Bill Haley died in Harlingen, Texas in 1981. His 1955 hit "Rock Around the Clock" is widely considered the first No. 1 of the rock era. Haley and his Comets sold 60 million records worldwide.

In 1991, C&C Music Factory featuring Freedom Williams hits #1 US with "Gonna Make Sweat.”

Today in 1957, the song "Too Much," by Elvis Presley topped the charts and stayed there for 3 weeks.

"Hey Paula" by Paul & Paula topped the charts in 1963 for a 3 week run.

In 1974, "Love's Theme" by the Love Unlimited Orchestra topped the charts.

In 2006, Beyonce topped the U.S. singles chart for a third week with "Check on It." The highest new entry is songwriter Teddy Geiger's "For You I Will (Confidence)," at No. 90.

In 2005, The Who's Roger Daltrey was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire at Buckingham Palace. The rock gnome jokes the Queen would "probably fall off her podium if she heard The Who's songs."

In 2005, organist Jimmy Smith, who single-handedly introduced jazz to the power and versatility of the electric Hammond B3, died at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, at age 79.

In 1991, modern gospel composer the Rev. James Cleveland died at age 58. His 1962 album “Peace Be Still,” sold 800,000 copies and established the blueprint for contemporary gospel recordings.

Today in 1970, the No. 1 LP in the U.K. was Led Zeppelin II.

Joe Ely, twang-driven singer-songwriter and one-third of the famed Flatlanders, was born in Amarillo, Texas in 1947. In the '70s he moved into rockabilly mode, opening for the Clash.

Pop/soul singer and composer Barbara Lewis was born in South Lyon, Michigan in 1943. Her biggest hit was 1963's No. 3 "Hello Stranger."

In 1939, songwriter Barry Mann, who with his wife, Cynthia Weill, wrote such pop classics as "On Broadway" and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Ernest Tubb, one of the first great honky-tonk singers, was born in Crisp, Texas in 1914.

In 1961, the Beatles played Liverpool’s Cavern Club. They performed at the venue three years earlier but were then known as the Quarry Men.

In 1958, a report by the American Research Bureau cited Dick Clark's American Bandstand as the top-ranked daytime television program, drawing an average of 8,400,000 viewers per day. (take that-Oprah!)

Lloyd Price reached number one on the Billboard Pop chart in 1959, with "Stagger Lee", an up-dated version of an old Folk song called "Stack-O-Lee". Wilson Pickett would take the song to number 22 in 1967.

In 1976, Percy Faith, who led his orchestra to the top of the US chart with "Theme From A Summer Place" in 1960, died of cancer. He was 62.