The Capitol Days Interviews
Editor's Note: My parents were all involved with Capitol Records in the 1950s and this page indexes my interviews with them. I did the interviews to preserve the history for future generations of our family, but I'm publishing it online to offer a candid glimpse into the Hollywood music scene of the 1950s. If you were in the industry at the time, or remember people we discuss in the interviews, please write to me. I'll post your comments here* (contact info.).
Capitol Records - the company
Interview with Don Hassler discusses the Tower, 1950s recording technology, Capitol marketing practices; Glenn Wallichs, Buddy deSylva, Johnny Mercer, Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, Kay Starr, Les Paul and Mary Ford, Nelson Riddle, Billy May, and EMI.
Illustrations: The Tower, the interviewees Don and Paula Hassler, the late Bill Muster, and interviewer, Nori Muster.
More Company History
Don Hassler discusses more details about Capitol Records in the 1950s in response to a letter from a reader. More information about the recording business, record quality, recording techniques, the echo chambers, the difference between CD and LP quality, more about the company founders, and also discusses his meeting with Les Paul in 1948.
Capitol Records People
Don Hassler discusses the "Capitol Gang" (as depicted in a publicity photo of marketing executives): Bill Muster, Perry Mayer, Dick Rising, Fred Rice, Bud Frazer, Steve Auld, and Jack Smothers). Also discussed but not pictured: Johnny Mercer and Buddy DeSilva, Perry Como, and Studs Turkel.
Don Hassler History
Don Hassler describes his years at Capitol and the Hollywood Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce), as well as jobs before and after Capitol. Other topics: the musicians union, the Four Freshman, Stan Kenton Presents, Patti Page, Les Paul, Mary Ford, Frank Sinatra, Kay Starr, Vic Damone, disk jockey payola, and the Mafia.
Illustrations: Concord reel-to-reel tape recorder, Hollywood Jaycees news item (1959), Hollywood Jaycees Race program and detail photo of Johnny Grant (1956), Capitol Records memo (1959), Capitol News (c. 1952), Capitol Records Sales report (1953), Capitol Records letter from Manila and letterhead detail (1957), and Hollywood Jaycees letter and letterhead detail (1959).
Johnny Grant and the Jaycees
Don recalls his years in the Jaycees and association with the late honorary Hollywood mayor.
Bozo the Clown
Don Hassler recalls his work promoting Bozo to radio stations and other venues for Capitol. The interview was conducted as research for a book about Bozo by Thomas Holbrook.
Don Hassler's Background in Music
Don Hassler recalls his school days, learning clarinet and saxophone, and playing in school bands. He was a working musician in Phoenix, with a masters of musical performance from Arizona State University (2000).
Military Band Years
Don Hassler recalls his years in military bands from 1948-1965, including in the Illinois National Guard and the US Army Reserve.
Damon "Bud" Hassler Don Hassler's uncle, whose early musical career was closely intertwined with the rise of jazz and swing music.
Memorial for Don Hassler More biographical information and photos from the memorial.
Bill Muster History
In this section, Don and Paula Hassler and Nori discuss their memories of how Bill Muster was fired because of a dust up over Playboy magazine. Don recalls Bill's role at Capitol producing the Sales Wrap-up; Paula recalls stories about Keely Smith and Louis Prima, Lord Buckley, and what it was like back in those days.
Illustrations: Daily Variety front page, Capitol Sales Wrap-Up front page and masthead detail, plus one page from the Wrap-Up ("Promotion with Impact"), a "Special Hits" reply post card, and Playboy Magazine letterhead detail.
Bill Muster fired over Playboy magazine including documents.
BillMuster.com more biographical information on Bill Muster, including the Delta Queen Steamboat, SATW Photo Competition, and Muster Foundation.
Interview with Nori Muster Nori talks about her parents, her writing career, and why she built the Capitol Records history website.
The Bill Muster Family of Los Angeles Nori's mother, Paula, father Bill, and brother Bill.
Bill's Ancestry Moldenhauer and Muster ancestors of Bill Muster (Nori's father).
Paula's Ancestry Runge and Christiansen ancestors of Paula Jean Hassler (Nori's mother).
The Paula book photos from Paula's life, including her time as a model in Chicago.
Travel diary of Bill and Paula's 1951 car trip to Mexico.
Photos of the Eichler house photos and an article about the Muster family home in Sunnyvale.
Photos of the Longbow Drive house where the Muster family lived from 1961-1970.
Santa Monica office building an Art Deco building from the 1930s on historic Route 66 where Bill worked from 1961-1989.
Alameda house where the family has lived in Arizona since 1992.
Don Hassler Memorial Don was a musician and marketing executive, married to Paula from 1970 until his passing in 2013.
Bill Muster's website Being the Ball (Nori's brother).
norimuster.com & surrealist.org Nori's websites for creative writing, art, and research.
Capitol Records Index