Joe´s Music Rack
THIS IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY!
We have no association with ABC-Paramount, ABC, or MCA Records.
Should you be interested in acquiring albums listed here (all of which are out of print), we suggest you go back to the
YOUR KEY TO COLLECTIBLES AUCTIONS/CLASSIFIEDS 33 1/3 page and see what is there, (remember the list changes all the time.)
The label called ABC-Paramount was formed in New York City in 1955. A subsidiary of American Broadcasting Corporation and Paramount Theaters, Inc., whos parent company was The Am-Par (American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) - Paramount) Record Corporation.
Samuel Clark, President - Larry Newton, National Sales Manager. Don Costa and Sid Feller were heads of A & R (Artists & Repertoire), Morty Craft, Johnny Pate, and Creed Taylor handled production for the company. The output of the label was pop, jazz, rhythm and blues, children´s and spoken word.
ABC-Paramount had a subsidiary label called APT, (ABC-Paramount Theaters, with only singles issued on that label.
ABC-Paramount was slow with placing albums on the national charts. Only two albums, both by Eydie Gorme, none of the other first 100 albums charted. The second 100 albums yeiled again only two, again, both by Eydie Gorme.
Audio Fidelity (AF) introduced stereo recordings in November 1957, ABC-Paramount beat all of the major labels to
the market with stereo records, having them in their June 1958 catalog, the others took until late summer (August)
or early fall of 1958 for their first stereo records to appear.
By July 1958, only the following labels had issued stereo records: Audio Fidelity, ABC-Paramount, Cook, Counterpoint, Hallmark, Period, Stereo, Stereovox, Urania, Vanguard, and World Wide. Most of these were dealing only with classical music.
The first ABC-Paramount stereo to be issues were ABCS-199, 209, 210, 218, 219, 220, 221, 223, and 224, and on. ABCS is a stereo pressing.
In the early 1960s, Impulse, a jazz label subsidiary, was established, and in 1966, a blues label subsidiary, Bluesway, was formed. In 1968, a short-lived Probe label was formed for psychedelic rock music.
In October, 1959, orchestra leader Enoch Light, along with his partners, sold their labels, Audition, Command, Colortone, Grand Award and Waldorf Music Hall, to ABC-Paramount, although Waldorf Music Hall had stopped issuing records before the sell to ABC. All of these labels were run by Light and based in Harrison, New Jersey. Two of the labels, Grand Award and Command, continued to operate under ABC, Grand Award sporadically until 1966 and Command until 1976. Enoch Light continued as head of A & R for both the Command and Grand Award labels.
In 1966 ABC purchased the Dunhill label from Lou Adler and the Duke/Peacock labels from Don Robey in 1973. ABC-Paramount also distributed a number of labels, including Anchor, Blue Thumb, Chancellor, Colonial, Deb, Fargo, Hunt, LHI (partially), Royal, Shelter (partially), Sire (partially), Tangerine, Topsy, and Wren.
ABC-Paramount was the first major label to be formed after the start of the rock and roll era. ABC had an open mind about this teen market and tried to capitalize on it. The company had a regular habit of licensing finished masters from independent producers and even purchased released records from small regional record companies to release on a national scale.
In May of 1957, a 15 year old singer/song writer from Canada, name Paul Anka, who had already made a single called "I Confess" for Modern Records, won a trip to New York City, he stayed with some Canadian friends, known as the Rover Boys, who recorded for ABC, they suggested that he see Don Costa. Don Costa, the force behind but alway out in front, signed Anka, to the label after Anka played a song for Costa he had written about a girl in Canada called Diana. The song was Paul Anka first single for ABC-Paramount. It became a teen anthem in the summer of 1957, staying on the national record charts for 6 months. The song, about a teenage boy in love with a much older girl (who didn´t know he was alive) was an elegy of self pity which became a regular staple of teen music from then on.
Paul Anka wrote most of the songs he recorded, including, "Put Your Head On My Shoulder", "Lonely Boy", "Puppy Love" and "My Heart Sings," as well as songs for other artists, such as Buddy Holly´s "It Doesn´t Matter Anymore." Paul Anka was one of the most versatile singers in the "teen idol" category, having 16 chart hits and 10 albums for ABC-Paramount. Anka left ABC in 1962 for RCA Victor, where he moved away from his teen idol status and became a mainstream pop singer. Anka continued his prolific song writing for other artists, his most famous songs probably being "My Way" for Frank Sinatra and "She´s a Lady" for Tom Jones. He also wrote the theme for Johnny Carson´s Tonight Show.
For more authentic rock and roll than staff A & R men like Don Costa could come up with, Sid Feller and Larry Newton, suggested that ABC go to independent producers. By the summer of 1957, Joe Bennett wrote a song called "Black Slacks" which he recorded with his group, the Sparkletones, and sold the master to ABC. It became a national hit in August of that year (1957) aided by the exposure it received on the ABC television show American Bandstand. ABC purchased "At the Hop" by Danny and the Juniors from Singular Records and it became a Number 1 national hit in late 1957. Danny and the Juniors followed that up with the classic anthem "Rock and Roll is Here to Stay" in February 1958. That same year ABC leased a recording of "Short Shorts" by the Royal Teens (which included at the time, future Four Seasons member/writer Bob Gaudio) and it was a big, big hit. Also in 1958, Vito Picone and Artie Venosa wrote a song called "Little Star," which they recorded with their vocal group, the Elegants, for Hull Records. ABC-Paramount leased the record and released it on their APT Record subsidiary and it also became a number one hit that summer.
The Poni-Tails, a vocal group made up of three teenaged girls from Cleveland, Ohio, were also signed to ABC by Don Costa. Their first release, "Just My Luck to Be Fifteen," was not too successful, but they followed that up with the top-10 hit "Born Too Late," which was the same theme as Paul Anka´s "Diana," but from a girl´s perspective. "Born Too Late" and most of the purchased hits above are contained in the excellent album, titled "A Million or More Best Sellers" on ABC-Paramount 216.
Lloyd Price also came to ABC through a license record deal. Price had hit in 1952 with Specialty Records with
"Lawdy Miss Clawdy". Price´s career at Specialty was cut short when he was drafted into the U. S. Army, but
upon being dischanged in 1956, Price moved to Washington, D. C. and formed his own record label, KRC (Kent Record
Company). In late 1956 he recorded a song he had written called "Just Because", and released it on KRC. The
song received some regional airplay and was sold to ABC for national distribution. In January, 1957, it became a
moderate hit on ABC-Paramount. Price himself signed with Atlantic Records, and continued to release his records on
the Atlantic-distributed KRC label but without too much success. In 1958, Sid Feller signed Price to an ABC-Paramount
contract, and Price soon reworked an old blues song called "Stack-A-Lee" into the pop oriented
"Stagger Lee," and had a number one hit with it. Sid Feller and Lloyd Price were able to develop a New York
version of the New Orleans sound that Dave Bartholomew had used five years earlier with Fats Domino and Price himself.
"Stagger Lee" was Price´s only number one hit, but he followed it up with several more chart hits in 1959 with:
"Where Were You (On Our Wedding Day)", "Personality" a big hit for Fats Domino, and "I´m Gonna Get
Married." Using the New York studios, Price´s hits had a much better sound than the most independent rock and
roll records of the time, as most ABC hits were available in stereo. Now try to remember that most home equipment
were just mono, not stereo, but Hi-Fi and stereo home equipment was very expensive
Price left ABC in the early 1960s, bought a night club in New York City called the Turntable, and started the record labels Turntable and Double L, recording himself and other artists such as then-unknown Wilson Pickett.
ABC-Paramount was impressed with Price´s success in the pop music market. Since Price was a former Rhythm and Blues (R & B) singer, they looked for other R & B singer that they could break into the crossover market. They came up with Ray Charles who was recording for Atlantic Records. Charles had a 10 year string of R & B hits and had just had his first pop hit with "What´d I Say," which reached number 6. It was Atlantic´s misfortune that in 1959, his contract at Atlantic expired. ABC-Paramount stepped in and offered Charles a contract that the small Atlantic label could not match. With ABC, Charles was given an increased artist royalty plus the producer´s royalty, his own label named Tangerine, plus the concession that the rights to his recordings would revert to him when he left the label. With ABC´s big money and marketing behind him, Ray Charles became an institution. His first of many hits for the label was of an old standard, "Georgia On My Mind," which became his first number 1 pop hit. The album that contained "Georgia on My Mind" The Genius Hits the Road, ABC 355 was also a big seller. In 1961, his next number one hit was "Hit the Road Jack," which was a harbinger of Charles´ next musical direction, country and western music. Charles released the album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music [ABC 410] in 1962, a single from the album "I Can´t Stop Loving You," was his next number one hit and one of the biggest hits of the early 1960s. iBid: Willie Nelson said after the death of Ray Charles (2005) - "He did more than any other person to raise country music when he did this album". While producing pop hits, the versatile Charles also recorded very successful jazz albums for ABC. Charles continued recording for ABC into the early 1970s, one of the best selling artists ABC ever had.
In 1959, ABC-Paramount started releasing the recordings of Cliff Richard in the United States. Richard, known as "the British Elvis" in his early years, had no chart success in the United States (other than a minor chart appearance with "Living Doll" in 1959), despite of his popularity in the UK where he had hit after hit. ABC released two more albums by Richard, ABC 321 and ABC 391, again, without much success. When Cliff started registering chart hits in the mid-1970s in the United States for EMI, after almost two decades as one of England´s top stars, he issued an album in the United States with the tongue-in-cheek title I´m Nearly Famous.
Fats Domino came to ABC-Paramount in 1963 from Imperial Records. Fats had not had a major hit since "Let the Four Winds Blow" in 1961, and he continued his chart slide at ABC. Unlike Lloyd Price, whose style easily fit into thew New York pop sound, Fats Domino sounded stifled in the format, and the material he recorded at ABC pales in comparison to his earlier work at Imperial. ABC released three albums by him, ABC 455, 479 and 510.
In spite of the success that ABC-Paramount had in the rock and roll field, the company´s bread and butter was straight-ahead pop music. Most of the album releases were popular or jazz; Steve Lawrence, Edyie Gorme and Ferrante & Teicher were staples of the company. Typical of a 1960s pop label, a surprisingly high percentage of the ABC-Paramount output was ethnic music, including Irish, calypso, polka, flamenco and Hawaiian music.
In 1961, ABC signed B. B. King to the label for a term beginning the following year. King was a very influential blues guitarist who had been recording for the RPM and related Kent labels since the early ´50s. ABC made a few changes to the way he was recorded, framing his vocals against a larger orchestral backdrop. The arranger and producer for the sessions was Johnny Pate. The sound was fuller than his RPM recordings, but the essential character of King´s music remained. Most of his ABC singles sold between 50 and 100 thousand copies. Johnny Pate suggested that they record B.B. King on his home turf, that is, make a recording of a live performance. The album "B. B. King Live at the Regal" [ABC 509] was recorded live in Chicago on November 21, 1964. It was a great album that showcased what B. B. King had been doing for years on the "Chitlin Circuit". When the British performers like the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton mentioned that B. B. King was a big influence on them, he gained credibility with the young white audience and his records starting selling in greater numbers. In 1970, "The Thrill is Gone" became his only Top 20 popular chart entry.
ABC formed the Bluesway subsidiary in 1966, and they seemingly signed every major bluesman available, including Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, Otis Spann, Joe Turner, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Rushing, Jimmy Witherspoon, Charles Brown, Roy Brown, and Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry. B. B. King´s releases were also put on Bluesway. The Bluesway label operated into 1974 but most people would agree that the majority of the artists on Bluesway made their best recordings on other labels. One act that first appeared on Bluesway was not a traditional bluesman, but a group of white musicians known as the James Gang, led by guitarist/singer/songwriter Joe Walsh (who later ended up as a 1970s star both as a solo artist and with the Eagles). The James Gang was probably the most significant power trio to come along other than Cream. Only their first album was on Bluesway, and with the success of that album, the James Gang was moved to the ABC parent label.
Of the early ABC-Paramount albums, quite a few were jazz releases. In 1961, ABC-Paramount started a jazz label subsidiary called Impulse. Impulse was able to sign an impressive list of top flight jazz artists, including John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins and The Coleman Hawkins Singers, Shelly Manne, Freddie Hubbard, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, Shirley Scott, Archie Shepp, Yusef Lateef, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman and Chico Hamilton. The Impulse label operated to 1979, but by that time it was releasing mostly compilations of material recorded earlier.
In 1966, Paramount was dropped from the name and the label became simply ABC.
In 1975, ABC signed Poco away from Epic Records. Poco was a proven commodity at Epic and had produced several critically acclaimed albums. Their first album on ABC was the excellent "Head Over Heels" [ABC 890]. ABC released three additional Poco albums, but none were as good as their first on the label.
The most successful rock band in the seventies on ABC was Steely Dan. Steely Dan was songwriter - instrumentalists Water Becker and Donald Fagen along with Denny Dias, Jeff Baxter, Jim Hodder and David Palmer. Their debut album Can´t Buy a Thrill contained two major hits, "Do It Again" and "Reeling in the Years." Their third album, Pretzel Logic, contained the smash hit "Rikki, Don´t Lose That Number." In 1974, Becker and Fagen essentially dismissed the other band members and became Steely Dan themselves, using session musicians. Steely Dan signed with Warner Brothers in 1976, but still owed ABC two albums. The first, Aja, was released in 1977 and produced the three hits "Peg", "Deacon Blues", and "Josie". After this, Steely Dan did not release another album for three years because of litigation between ABC and Warner Brothers. In 1980, the album Gaucho was finally released which produced the major hit "Hey, Nineteen," but by this time the ABC label had ceased to exist, and the album was released on parent label MCA.
Also in the ´70s, ABC entered into the soul market in a major way, signing Isaac Hayes, the Four Tops, the Dells and the Dramatics. Hayes came to ABC after the bankruptcy of Stax Records. Hayes was a soul superstar and was given his own record label named after his first smash album Hot Buttered Soul or "HBS". His first album on HBS was Chocolate Chip, a best seller. His later releases fared less well, and in late 1977 Hayes left ABC for Polydor Records. The Four Tops moved to ABC in 1975, having spent 1972-75 on the Dunhill subsidiary label. They didn´t have much chart success on ABC, but did release five albums. The Dramatics did quite well on ABC; their albums are uniformly good and Shake It Well [ABC 1010] is outstanding.
The mid-1970s at ABC were an unfortunate time for music lovers. To save space, and consequently a few dollars, ABC systematically went through their vaults and discarded all tapes except the finished masters for most artists. Consequently, few multitrack masters or outtakes exist for early ABC material, and the ABC masters on compact disc sound worse than they could have if the "cleanup" program hadn´t occurred. Some masters, such as the Ray Charles masters which reverted to him after his leaving the label, escaped from this short-sited "cost savings," but in general, the ABC catalog of today is nothing like it should be, given the rich musical heritage of the label.
In 1979, ABC Records was sold to the Music Corporation of America (MCA). In mid 1979, ABC ceased to exist as a record label. The most successful albums on ABC were reissued on MCA.
Above the center hole was a white "ABC-PARAMOUNT"
around the top of the label.
At the bottom of the label was
"A PRODUCT OF AM-PAR RECORD CORP." in white.
Stereo issues had " STEREO" in large silver letters to the left of the center hole
The graphics were the same as the commercial label.
This label was used from 1955 until December 1961 at the start of the ABC 400 series.
Listing for ABC PARAMOUNT 100 - 199
ABC PARAMOUNT DISCOGRAPHY Section
for Joe´s Music Rack part of YOUR KEY TO COLLECTIBLES© 1997 - 2009