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The original Walking Eye was tall and solid; it was modified in  to the familiar one still used today pictured on this page , despite the fact that the Walking Eye was used only sporadically during most of the s. Although the onset of long-playing vinyl "hi-fi" records coincided with the public's loss of interest in big bands, Columbia maintained Duke Ellington under contract, capturing the historic moment when Ellington's band provoked a post-midnight frenzy followed by international headlines at the Newport Jazz Festival , which proved not only a boost to the venerable bandleader and the barely established venue of the outdoor music festival but a harbinger of the musical love-fest that was Woodstock.
Under new head producer George Avakian , Columbia became the most vital label to the general public's appreciation and understanding with help from Avakian's prolific and perceptive play-by-play liner notes of America's indigenous art, releasing the most important LP's by the music's founding father, Louis Armstrong , but also signing to long-term contracts Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis , the two modern jazz artists who would in record albums that remain—more than a half century later—among the best-selling jazz albums by any label—viz. Contemporaneously with Columbia's first release of modern jazz by a small group, which was also the Brubeck Quartet's debut on the label, was a Time Magazine cover story on the phenomenon of Brubeck's success on college campuses.
The humble Dave Brubeck demurred, saying that the second Time Magazine cover story on a jazz musician the first featured Louis Armstrong 's picture had been earned by Duke Ellington , not himself.
Within two years Ellington's picture would appear on the cover of Time Magazine , following his "wild" success at the Newport Jazz Festival. Ellington at Newport , recorded on Columbia, was also the bandleader-composer-pianist's best-selling album. Moreover, this exclusive trinity of jazz giants featured on Time Magazine were all Columbia artists. In the early s Columbia jazz artist Thelonious Monk would be afforded the same honor. Under his leadership the corporation's music division soon overtook RCA Victor as the top recording company in the world, boasting a star-studded roster of artists and an unmatched catalogue of popular, jazz, classical and stage and screen soundtrack titles.
One of his first major successes was the original cast soundtrack of My Fair Lady , which sold over 5 million copies worldwide in , becoming the most successful LP ever released up to that time. Only Mathis' compilations charted, since there were only 25 positions on Billboard' s album charts at the time. Although Columbia began recording in stereo in , stereo LPs did not begin to be manufactured until Bernstein combined the Nativity and Resurrection sections, and ended the performance with the death of Christ.
Some sessions were made with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble drawn from leading New York musicians, which had first made recordings with Sir Thomas Beecham in in Columbia's famous New York City studios. George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra recorded mostly for Epic. When Epic dropped classical music, the roster and catalogue was moved to Columbia Masterworks Records. Columbia released its first pop stereo albums in the summer of All of the first dozen or so were stereo versions of albums already available in mono. Mono records sold to the general public were subsequently discontinued in To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the LP, in Columbia initiated the "Adventures in Sound" series that showcased music from around the world.
As far as the catalog numbering system went, there was no correlation between mono and stereo versions for the first few years.
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Columbia started a new CS series for pop stereo releases, and figuring the stereo releases as some sort of specialty niche records, didn't bother to link the mono and stereo numbers for two years. From that point, the stereo numbers on pop albums were exactly higher than the mono; stereo classical albums were the mono number plus ; and showtunes releases were the mono number MINUS Only the last two digits in the respective catalog series' matched. Pop stereo LPs got into the high s by , when CBS Records revamped and unified its catalog numbering system across all its labels.
Masterworks classical albums were in the s, while showtunes stayed in the low s. By the latter half of , Columbia started using pressing plants with newer equipment. The "deep groove" pressings were made on older pressing machines, where the groove was an artifact of the metal stamper being affixed to a round center "block" to assure the resulting record would be centered.
Newer machines used parts with a slightly different geometry, that only left a small "ledge" where the deep groove used to be. This changeover did not happen all at once, as different plants replaced machines at different times, leaving the possibility that both deep groove and ledge varieties could be original pressings. The changeover took place starting in late This was the result of legal maneuvers which led to the creation of EMI in the early s.
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While this happened, starting in late , both the mono and the stereo labels of domestic Columbia releases started carrying a small "CBS" at the top of the label. This was not something that changed at a certain date, but rather, pressing plants were told to use up the stock of old pre-CBS labels first, resulting in a mixture of labels for some given releases. Some are known with the CBS text on mono albums, and not on stereo of the same album, and vice versa; diggings brought up pressings with the CBS text on one side and not on the other. Many, but certainly not all, of the early numbers with the "ledge" variation i.
In CBS took over its distributor in Australia and New Zealand, the Australian Record Company founded in including Coronet Records , one of the leading Australian independent recording and distribution companies of the day. ARC continued trading under that name until the late s when it formally changed its business name to CBS Australia. It was here that Hammond first met Bob Dylan , whom he signed to the label, initially as a harmonica player.
Over the course of the s, Dylan achieved a prominent position in Columbia. The Byrds achieved their pop breakthrough with a version of Dylan's " Mr. Tambourine Man ". In , Dylan's controversial decision to 'go electric' and work with rock musicians divided his audience but catapulted him to greater commercial success with his hit single " Like a Rolling Stone ". Following his withdrawal from touring in , Dylan recorded a large group of songs with his backing group The Band which reached other artists as 'demo recordings'. Columbia's engineering department developed a process for emulating stereo from a mono source.
They called this process "Electronically Rechanneled for Stereo. Columbia's rechanneling process involved a slight time delay and some bass-treble separation between channels. RCA Victor and Capitol " Duophonic " used similar processes, but the relatively large delay between channels resulted in a sound that has been described by collectors as "messy" Duophonic or "garbage can echo" RCA Victor. Columbia's rechanneling resulted in a sound similar to reverb, though some found it annoying. The song reached No.
Melcher and Bruce Johnston discovered and brought to Columbia The Rip Chords , a vocal group consisting of Ernie Bringas and Phil Stewart, and turned it into a rock group through production techniques. Columbia saw the two recordings as a start to getting into rock and roll. When Mitch Miller retired in ,  Columbia was at a turning point. In , Brooklyn-born lawyer Clive Davis became president of Columbia.
Sales of Broadway soundtracks and Mitch Miller's singalong series were waning. Joplin led the way for several generations of female rock and rollers. She released her first solo album on Columbia in and remains with the label to this day. Additionally, the label kept Miles Davis on the roster, and his late s recordings, In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew , pioneered a fusion of jazz and rock music. As a way of introducing them to the world with a splash, they released their debut album , along with five singles from the album, all on the same day, June 6, , 23 years following D-Day.
The album hit made 24 on the Billboard , but the singles barely made a dent in the charts, the best performer being "Omaha," which lasted a mere three weeks on the Hot reaching only No. The other charter, "Hey Grandma," only reached the Bubbling Under chart and faded within a week. Also, there were some complaints about the obscene gesture made to the American flag on the front cover that had to be edited out on the second pressing, not to mention that the group started to decline in sales after that.
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The return on all the promotional budget for the singles realized nothing. Although the group made two more albums, this particular publicity stunt was never again attempted by Columbia or any other major label. The duo scored a surprise No. Indeed, the duo had already broken up some months earlier, discouraged by the poor sales of their debut LP, and Paul Simon had relocated to the UK, where he famously only found out about the single being a hit via the music press.
The dramatic success of the song prompted Simon to return to the US; the duo reformed, and they soon became one of the flagship acts of the folk-rock boom of the mids. The duo subsequently had a Top 20 single, " A Hazy Shade of Winter ", but progress slowed during as Simon struggled with writer's block and the demands of constant touring. They shot back to the top in after Simon agreed to write songs for the Mike Nichols film The Graduate.
The resulting single, " Mrs. Robinson ", became a smash hit. Simon and Garfunkel's fifth and final studio album, Bridge over Troubled Water , reached number one in the US album charts in January and became one of the most successful albums of all time.
Davis lured artists Hoyt Axton and Tom Rush to Columbia in , and both were given what was known as "the pop treatment" by the label. By the time he joined Columbia, he had mixed successful pop songs like " Greenback Dollar ," with hard rock songs for Steppenwolf , such as " The Pusher ", which was used in the film Easy Rider in the same year. When he landed at Columbia, his album My Griffin Is Gone was described as "the poster child for 'overproduced,' full of all kinds of instruments and even strings. Axton eventually became a country singer, and founded his own record label, Jeremiah. Tom Rush had always been the "storyteller" or "balladeer" type of folk artist, before and after his stint with Columbia, to which Rush was lured from Elektra.
As with Axton, Rush was given "the treatment" on his self-titled Columbia debut. The multitude of instruments added to his usual solo guitar were all done "tastefully", of course, but was not really on par with Rush's audience expectations. He commented to record label historian Mike Callahan:. Eventually, Rush returned to his usual sound which he applied to his next three albums for Columbia and has been playing to appreciative audiences ever since.
This presented a catalog numbering system challenge; Columbia had for 13 years used a four-digit catalog number, and CS seemed cumbersome. Temporarily, they settled on CS instead, preserving the four-digit catalog number; however, they were re-using catalog numbers used in , even if the prefix was now different. Chronologically, Columbia issued at least one album in this series in August, but by that time the CBS Consolidated series, which started issuing albums in July with the new label design, was well underway, having issued nearly albums.
The system was later expanded with even more prefix letters, which continued until In September , under the guidance of Clive Davis , Columbia Records entered the West Coast rock market, opening a state-of-the art recording studio which was located at Folsom St. The recording studio operated under CBS until During the early s, Columbia began recording in a four-channel process called quadraphonic , using the "SQ" Stereo Quadraphonic standard that used an electronic encoding process that could be decoded by special amplifiers and then played through four speakers, with each speaker placed in the corner of a room.
Remarkably, RCA countered with another quadraphonic process that required a special cartridge to play the "discrete" recordings for four-channel playback. Both Columbia and RCA's quadraphonic records could be played on conventional stereo equipment. Although the Columbia process required less equipment and was quite effective, many were confused by the competing systems and sales of both Columbia's matrix recordings and RCA's discrete recordings were disappointing.
A few other companies also issued some matrix recordings for a few years. Columbia even released a soundtrack album of the movie version of Funny Girl in quadraphonic. Many of these recordings were later remastered and released in Dolby surround sound on CD. At this point, according to music historian Frederic Dannen, the shy and introverted Yetnikoff began to transform his personality, becoming in Asher's words "wild, menacing, crude, and above all, very loud.
CBS Records had a popular roster of musicians. But the music industry was in financial decline. The label laid off hundreds of employees. Charged with cutting costs and restoring profits, Asher was reportedly reluctant to take on the role. He was worried that Yetnikoff would resent his promotion. But Backe had confidence in Asher's experience. Backe considered him to be honest and trustworthy, and he appealed to Asher's loyalty to the company.
Employees at CBS thought Asher was a bore and an interloper. He cut back on expenses and on perks like limousines and restaurants. His relationship with Yetnikoff deteriorated. Asher became increasingly concerned about the huge and rapidly growing cost of hiring independent agents, who were paid to promote new singles to radio station program directors. The results were immediate and deeply troubling - not one of the major radio stations in Los Angeles would program the record, despite the fact that the group was in town, performing sell-out shows to rave reviews.
Asher was already worried about the growing power of The Network, and the fact it operated entirely outside the control of the label, but he was profoundly dismayed to realize that "The Network" was in effect a huge extortion racket, and that the operation could well be linked to organized crime - a concern vehemently dismissed by Yetnikoff, who resolutely defended the "indies" and declared them to be "mensches". But Dick Asher now knew that The Network's real power lay in their ability to prevent records from being picked up by radio, and as an experienced media lawyer and a loyal CBS employee, he was also acutely aware that this could become a new payola scandal which had the potential to engulf the entire CBS corporation, and that the Federal Communications Commission could even revoke CBS' all-important broadcast licenses if the corporation was found to be involved in any illegality.
Columbia Records remains a premier subsidiary label of Sony Music Entertainment. The label is headed by chairman Rob Stringer , along with executive vice president and general manager Joel Klaiman , who joined the label in December Sony and Columbia had cooperated earlier. The acquisition of rights to the Columbia trademarks by EMI including the "Magic Notes" logo presented the company with a dilemma of which logo to use.
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That logo is currently used in the "Columbia Jazz" series of jazz releases and reissues. In mid to late , it was eventually decided that the "Walking Eye" previously the CBS Records logo outside North America would be Columbia's logo, with the retained Columbia word mark design, throughout the world except in Japan where Nippon Columbia has the rights to the Columbia trademark to this day and continues to use the "Magic Notes" logo.
As of October , there were 85 recording artists signed to Columbia Records,  making it the largest of the three flagship labels owned by Sony Music followed by RCA Records with 78 artists and Epic Records with 43 artists. In , Columbia made an affiliation with unsigned artist promotion label Aware Records to distribute Aware's artists' music. Through this venture, Columbia has had success finding highly successful artists.
In , Columbia and Aware accepted the option to continue this relationship. Columbia had given its country music department semi-autonomy for many years and through the s, had a 20, series catalog for country music singles while the rest of Columbia's output of singles had a 30,, then 40, series catalog number. In , Columbia moved into the Woolworth Building in New York City  and housed its first recording studio there. In , Columbia used this studio to make one of the earliest jazz records, by the Original Dixieland Jass Band.
The Columbia 30th Street Studio at East 30th Streets nicknamed "The Church" was considered by some in the music industry to be the best-sounding room of its time, and many consider it to have been the greatest recording studio in history. It was used by several denominations over the next seventy years, then briefly became a radio studio in the late s before being leased by CBS in and converted into a state-of-the-art recording studio. The 30th Street Studio had unique sonic characteristics, thanks to its soaring one-hundred-foot vaulted ceiling, exposed timber beams, plaster walls and unvarnished wooden floor.
He posted detailed standing orders to all staff to control the maintenance and cleaning of the space, even down to the changing of light bulbs, ordering that the curtains and other fittings were never to be touched, that no painting was allowed, and especially that the wooden floor could only be swept or vacuumed, and was never under any circumstances to be mopped with water, for fear that this might alter the room's resonant and reflective properties.
In spite of the building's inherent heritage status and its cultural significance, it was sold to developers in , demolished, and replaced by a high-rise apartment complex. Columbia also recorded in the highly respected Liederkranz Hall, at East 58th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues, in New York City, it was built by and formerly belonged to a German cultural and musical society, The Liederkranz Society , and used as a recording studio Victor also recorded in Liederkranz Hall in the late s.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. American record label; currently owned by Sony Music Entertainment. This article is about the American record label active worldwide except in Japan. For the Japanese record label, see Nippon Columbia.
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This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Main article: List of Columbia Records artists. Companies portal. Retrieved December 19, September 17, Nielsen Business Media, Inc. The New York Times. Retrieved February 28, Archived from the original on November 14, Retrieved November 8, Retrieved January 22, Retrieved December 31, Antique Phonograph Monthly. Kernfeld, Barry ed.
The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound. Retrieved July 21, September 7, Billboard Columbia Prepares to Close Plant. Retrieved June 24, Retrieved on July 16, Archived from the original on August 10, White July 1, Popular Press. August 28, March 16, RCA capitulated in , leaving 45s as the medium of choice for pop singles.
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