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. All of these interviews were conducted with Don Hassler, my stepfather, between 2004 and 2013. My mother, Paula Hassler, also sat in for most of the interviews. I interviewed my parents to preserve the history for future generations of our family, but am publishing the interviews online to offer a candid glimpse into the Hollywood music scene of the 1950s. - Nori
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 Master in Music Performance degree 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 Don Hassler, June 6, 1929 - August 20, 2013.
Bill Muster History
Bill Muster was a marketing manager for Capitol Records, September 1953 to May 1959. He died in 1989, but in this 2004 interview, Don and Paula Hassler discuss his history with Capitol. He produced the Sales Wrap-Up, an in-house publication for the sales team. Bill was fired from Capitol in 1959 because of a dust-up over Playboy magazine, when Playboy wanted Capitol artists for their Playboy All Stars album. Also in this section, Paula recalls stories about Keely Smith and Louis Prima, Lord Buckley, and what Capitol 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 postcard, and Playboy Magazine letterhead detail.
BillMuster.com more biographical information, including the Delta Queen Steamboat, SATW Photo Competition, Muzak, and Muster Foundation.
Nori Muster, Editor and Webmaster
2008 Interview with Nori - on her work, her parents, and the purpose of the Capitol Records history site.
Nori's birth announcements The Cash Box, Los Angeles Herald & Express, and Variety
Nori's websites: norimuster.com & surrealist.org
Capitol Records Index