Editor's Note: This page includes news, links, and some of the responses I've received from people who have visited these pages.
Capitol Records celebrates its 80th Anniversary in 2022
Facebook post: 80 years ago today, on February 7, 1942, Buddy DeSylva, Johnny Mercer, and Glenn Wallichs had a lunch meeting at Lucey's Restaurant at 5444 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, California.
It's there that Mercer and Wallichs asked DeSylva (at the time head of production for Paramount Pictures) if Paramount would put up the money to start a West Coast-based label or allow them to sell the records in Paramount's theatre lobbies.
DeSylva said that Paramount wouldn't back the idea, but that he would personally give them the start-up money, and wrote a check for $15,000 (the equivalent of $256,566.26 today).
Thus Liberty Records was born.
DeSylva would later paint a picture of the meeting.
After registering the company with the state of California, they soon would find that they couldn't secure the rights to the name Liberty Records for nationwide use.
Later, over dinner at Chasen's restaurant in Beverly Hills, California, Mercer's wife, Ginger, suggested the name Capitol Records.
Visit the Capitol Records History page at Facebook: Capitol Music Group
Capitol Records Posts Old Videos on Youtube
The Capitol Film Collection - Wanna Buy A Record (1951)
This is a promotional film for Capitol Records from 1951, starring Mel Blanc (the voice behind many Warner Bros and Hanna Barbera cartoon characters) and Billy May. The film shows the process of how a record is made, and shows Capitol Records headquarters before the Capitol Records Tower opened. It also has appearances from many other stars, including Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
The Capitol Film Collection - The Tower Opens (1956)
Some very early news reel coverage featuring the opening of the Capitol Records Tower in 1956. This reel was originally presented in the "silent newsreel" format.
The Capitol Film Collection - The Capitol Tower (1958)
This is a promotional film narrated by Tennessee Ernie Ford that shows the process of signing an artist, making a record, and selling it in 1958. It shows several stars from the time including: Barbara Gayle, Leonard Pennario, Mora Lympany, Micky Katz, and John Browning. It also briefly features an appearance by Glen Wallichs, Capitol Records' former president and one the original co-founders (the other co-founders were Johnny Mercer and Buddy DeSylva).
The Capitol Film Collection - An 8mm Look Inside the Tower (with subtitles) (1962)
This film was recorded as a fun survey of some of the types of work going on inside the Capitol Records Tower in 1962. It is narrated by Jay and narrated by Bob.
October 26, 2010
A good link for more information about Capitol history
Dave Dexter was an early employee of Capitol Records and worked there from 1943 until the mid-1970s. His papers are held at the University of Missouri. Click the link for access to more information: Dexter Collection University of Missouri, Kansas City.
check out more Capitol Records history at: popculturefanboy.blogspot.com
April 17, 2008
Now at the Capitol Records History website: the Piltdown Men!! Click here.
Editor's Note: This is an email conversation that features Jane Veeder, searching for genealogy information about her father's career at Capitol Records in the 1950s.
On Nov 13, 2008, at 2:48 PM, Jane Veeder wrote:
I found out about your site from Tom Holbrook because I have a picture of myself as a child with a Bozo doll and we are both looking at a Bozo book... You can see it below on my Bio site, at the "Bio" section.
I was interested to see your site on Capitol Records as my father, Ken Veeder, was the head of the photo department for over 20 years. You don't have photo or illustration credits for any of the album covers. I would expect that some of the albums would credit my dad and some of the illustrations would credit our family friend, Don Feld, who later became a BIG costume designer for movies.
Jane Veeder, Professor, Visual Communication Design
Department of Design & Industry, San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue, SF CA 94132
Teaching Site: http://online.sfsu.edu/~jkv4edu
Bio Site: http://online.sfsu.edu/~jkveeder
Department Site: http://design.sfsu.edu
From: Don Hassler
Sent: Friday, November 14, 2008 12:09 PM
Subject: Re: website_contact
Hello, Jane Veeder---
Of course Ken Veeder was head of the photo studio and got a brand-new one when we moved into the Tower. And I remember Don Feld (also Marv Schwartz) who were doing most of the cover design.
I don't know if credits are available on the albums on the website but they certainly do have credits listed somewhere. It was such a great place to work in the 50s. The website is definitely a "work-in-progress" and we appreciate all helpful comments such as yours. Regards, Don Hassler
On Nov 14, 2008, at 3:05 PM, Jane Veeder wrote:
Thanks for the reply and for remembering my father.
I remember that when Capitol moved into the tower all the families got a tour. My most vivid memory of that was the demonstration of the "COMPUTER" which featured punch cards being sorted. The guy loaded them in, the machine sorted them into many little slots, and the guy proudly went "ta-daa!!!" So, that was in 1956. I cannot remember when my father started at Capitol...perhaps you know? I know it was before the tower, but I am not sure by how much. My father used to complain about the wasted/unusable space the curves caused in the room where they did the studio shoots.
I remember Marv Schwartz, too. Also, my father's secretary, Gracia, who became a friend of our family. She used to sometimes come and babysit my brother and I when my parents took a weekend trip. She had a taste for exotic boyfriends, one was a wild animal trainer. We visited his "ranch" one time up in Hemitt or someplace like that. The next one, who she married, was the future music whiz Jack Nitzsche whose wikipedia page mentions Gracia who apparently went on to a singing career. My parents didn't like him because he wore sunglasses all the time....>;O)
I wish we had all the info on Daddy's credits, but alas no one in my family is not good at archiving. He and I became more or less estranged during the last 15 years of his life. Odd how life turns out, given that we were so close when I was little. My nephew Jason Veeder has a musical career in Grand Rapids Michigan and was in LA for a couple of years recently going through a technical music production course of study. He works as a DJ and is currently arranging and producing the work of a local songwriter. Like my brother and father, Jason has a natural gift for music.
On Jul 25, 2007, at 3:10 PM, Darla Matchett wrote:
I was told by family members that my husband's Uncle Frank Matchette's name was somewhere on the wall in the Capitol Records Building as he had been a foreman on the construction crew. Let me know if you have any information or pictures of him. I believe he was a friend of Wallace Beery.
----- Original Message -----
From: Nori Muster
To: Darla Matchett
Sent: Sunday, August 05, 2007 9:39 AM
Subject: Re: Capitol Records request
I could not find any information about this. Want me to post your question to my website?
Go ahead & post it.
My husband's older cousin (had met Frank) & told us that Francis Leo "Frank" Matchette had something to do with the design of the Capitol Records Building about 1954 & also the Los Angeles Court House. He told us we should go to California to meet him but we never got to.
I believe he was the building foreman. We were told his name was on the wall somewhere inside the door. He also had something do do with the building of the Smith Tower in Seattle. He was married & had one daughter I believe.
Editor's note: Send information to: Darla Matchett email click here.
On Jul 12, 2007, at 3:49 AM, Randy McDaniels wrote:
Since I am originally from Pennsylvania... (live in Atlanta now)... I was wondering what Capitol ever did with the Scranton, PA pressing plant ?? Is it sitting vacant ?? Torn down ?? A Wal-Mart ?? I can't even find an address on where it was in Scranton to try and follow up on this. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
On Jul 22, 2007, at 8:10 PM, Nori Muster wrote:
Hey Randy, Good news! I found someone who could answer your question!!!
Editor's Note: This info. sent in by Rob Green:
Here is what I could find:
In late 1969, Capitol opened a factory in Winchester, VA. This factory seems to have made thinner records than the others did. [Scranton was noted for its "thicker" records which used more vinyl.] At about this time, Capitol decided to phase out the use of the Scranton factory.
Scranton's factory symbol was a triangle in which I A M was written. Scranton used its 1950's style stampers on 1st pressings of the Early Beatles. Scranton was phased out when the Winchester factory was opened (see below). Indeed, by mid '69, they had stopped pressing reissue Beatles records, although they did press copies of the new issues. For this reason, the Capitol albums pressed at Scranton from MMT back only appear on the rainbow label; there are no later issue Scranton copies. Scranton stopped making records altogether and closed down c.1973.
/ I \
/ A M \
- Rob Green
everguardchimney.com [site is offline]
From the website:
May 2002 - Move to a Larger Warehouse
Plans were announced by Olympia Chimney Supply in Scranton, Pa., to purchase and move to a much-needed larger facility. The move to the new quarters at 300A Brook St. will enable Olympia Chimney Supply to continue to serve a growing customer base and meet the increasing specialized requirements of each customer. Space at the present facility on Penn Avenue has been quickly shrinking, owing to customer demand. The metalcrafter manufactures and warehouses a growing family of EverGuard(TM) products for safe chimney operation and maintenance.
The new metal fabrication plant is about two miles from its previous home. The building, which formerly housed nationally known Capitol Records, is 138,000 square feet, allowing much more space to manufacture and fully stock EverGuard(TM) products for same day shipping. The building also has space for continued growth. The facility is located within minutes of four interstate highways. This makes the location central for shipping, which makes for fast transit. Because of this convenient site, Olympia's products can be quickly sent to the chimney professional and ultimately the homeowner, to correct an unsafe condition in the shortest time possible.
On Aug 13, 2007, at 8:01 PM, Randy McDaniels wrote:
Thanks so much for following up on this. I am really happy to see the old Capitol plant is being put to good use in manufacturing and still keeping folks employed. I shuttered at the thought of it being another Wal-Mart... and thankfully... it is not. I hate seeing old buildings with a rich history being torn down, all the time in the name of progress... a.k.a. greed. This time... it was different. (They tear down everything here in Atlanta... in fact... right now they are tearing down the historic Buckhead district... to put up more condo's... which we really do not need here... this place is already condo heaven... and many of those are not leased to date). Anyway... just want to say thanks again for the input on this. You've made my day.
Had a chance to post your kind letter while redesigning the Capitol Records pages. This section was getting so unruly - now forty-eight pages long - but I tightened up the navigation and constructed an index (index.html).
It has been my good fortune to share all these documents with the world, thanks to the Internet :-)
Bye for now,
Matthew Lutthans, who is currently researching a book about Capitol Records, sent this article about the Scranton pressing plant building: http://blogs.thetimes-tribune.com/pages/?tag=capitol-records.
From: Robert Sears
Subject: Capitol Records
Date: May 16, 2007 7:57:27 PM MST
To: Nori Muster
I came across your Capitol site by chance while researching Glenn Wallichs for a thing I'm writing called L.A. My Way. I was delighted. All those people who I haven't thought about for years! I worked for Capitol from 1958 through '60 and, although most would not remember me, I knew them all. These were interesting times for the record industry, the good (greatest artist roster to ever be assembled anywhere in my opinion) and the bad (the payola scandal).
I was in Dick Rising's department but took orders from a fellow named John Annarino who hired me. I was one of the merchandising hacks who did a little bit of everything. I wrote trade ads, liner notes, bits for the Wrap-Up, point-of-purchase, album covers for promotional albums (I still have a couple of them somewhere) and other stuff including something we called "Minute Masters" which were edited one-minute versions of the best of the new release for the jockeys. I think this was Perry Mayer's brainchild. I did "voice tracks" which was pretty heady stuff for a kid of 23 because I actually got to go into the studios and talk with the likes of Dean Martin ("Hi there, this is Dean Martin and here's a song you're gonna like from my brand-new Capitol album Bells are Ringin'") and Ernie Ford who intimidated the entire congregation every Sunday during hymn time at the North Hollywood Methodist Church. I may have missed it but one name I didn't see is Brown Meggs who came on while I was there and then just kind of blew past everybody right to the top! One day I was swapping jokes with him at lunch and the next day he was president!
I was canned after a little more than two years. I like to say it was because there was a "sweep" but it might have been because I once demanded (and got) way too much money to promote a single called Brontosaurus Stomp by the Piltdown Men (you remember them) who bombed or maybe because the word got to his producer that I really hated that album cover with Jack Jones in a leopard skin. Or maybe it was one of those jokes I told Meggs. Who knows? I was just a dumb kid but I sure had fun.
St. George UT
From: Nori Muster
To: Robert Sears
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2007 2:43 PM
Subject: Re: Capitol Records
I apologize for taking so long to reply to your letter. My inbox is overflowing. Right now I'm camping in the mountains seventy-five miles east of Eugene, OR, in an Airstream trailer. Luckily, I have satellite Internet and TV. If you can still call it camping!!! The upshot is that I'm finally getting some time to catch up on my correspondence.
It sounds like you had a great time at Capitol. My dad was canned and the story is posted at the site: https://norimuster.com/history/capitoldays3.html Your history there is also worth posting, may I publish your letter somewhere on the Capitol Records pages? Look forward to hearing from you - please don't wait as long as I did to answer ;-)
Many thanks for responding. By all means feel free to post my letter, I will be honored. By the way, after Capitol I went to work for Sony where one of my assignments was to write their reel-to-reel tape recorder print ads for Playboy. Unlike Capitol, Sony was not at all shy about using Playboy. I really like the picture of your Dad, Perry, Fred, Steve and the others. I attended many a meeting with those same people and very likely in the same conference room, eleventh floor I think it was (overlooking Hollywood and Vine). The photographer could have been Ray Hayner (sp) who ran the in-house photo studio around that time (you might check with your sources on that).
Thanks again for your note. I'll send along other Capitol recollections from time to time if it's ok with you. I may have an old Billboard ad from those times stashed away somewhere, I will look for it.
Regarding Dave E. Dexter:
Find information about Dave E. Dexter Jr. here: http://www.umkc.edu/lib/spec-col/dex-bio.htm
From the site: Dave E. Dexter, Jr. (1915-1990) was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. He joined Capitol Records in 1943 and was eventually promoted to Executive Producer for Artists and Repertoire. In 1955, Dexter assembled over 400 albums of representative national and ethnic music under the title "Capitol of the World." He left Capitol Records in 1975 to become chief copy editor of Billboard.
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2005 00:27:35 EST
I worked for years at a store called "Carousel Music" in Everett, WA, and the store was run by Norma and Dusty Neely. Dusty was a session musician in Hollywood back in the 40s, and for a time the music store sold records before going strictly "instruments and sheet music." Whenever a customer would special-order a piece of sheet music, when the order arrived at our store, we would call the customer, then put the music in "the bin," which was a wooden box about 12" across with a slanted front, and a large Capitol Records logo. The wood was a very nice looking light-tone wood, varnished, maybe alder?? The logo was a classy looking gold leaf. I'd guess it was from the 1950s. When the store closed in the 90s, I should have grabbed that box, but I'm sure it just got tossed out. Oh, well.
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2005 20:13:56 -0700
My Dad was an electronic maintenance man work at night to make sure the recording equipment was working for the singers. He was born in Reniville, Minn. in 1901. Lived on a homestead and cowboyed was a carpenter and served the Navy as a installer of radar and electronics in the Airborne Coorinating Group. George served the navy till the war was over an then went into work as a carpenter for 2 years. Capitol offered him a job in 1948 because of this electronics background in the Navy, worked for them till 1969. He was known to many recording artists such as Peggy Lee. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, etc., because he would fix the recording equipment when it broke down so they could finish the session. George and his wife Emily did some traveling then moved to Boise Idaho in 73 Passed away in August of 87 after living a full life.
Subject: Bozo & Capitol
Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2004 16:23:13 GMT
From: Don Hassler
To: Bozo History
I can't help you much. Bozo was discovered (invented? developed?) by Alan Livingston, who was Capitol's head of A & R. He was developed into a huge business for kid's records and accessories. And there were at least two or three actors that played Bozo and made personal appearances on behalf of Capitol at schools, hospitals, record stores etc. all over the US.
In addition to records and record albums, we sold phonographs, toys and many other accessories. The market for kid's records eventually died out, probably due to LP albums and then cassettes. That might have been in the 1960s.
One of the Bozo actors was named Larry ?? and I took him on several personal appearance tours in LA. It was quite moving and emotional to see kids in hospitals (some pretty sick) react to the clown.
Sorry I can't give you more. Don Hassler Capitol 1953-61
Subject: Re: Bozo & Capitol
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 2004 07:04:43 -0700
From: Don Hassler
To: Bozo History
I now remember that the Bozo actor I worked with was named Larry Harman. He told me that he was the original Bozo and I think he started in New York. I don't have any material from those days to pass on other that what you see on the website.
Re: Freddie Rice, YES!! I worked with him for at least 5 yrs and he was a great guy. He designed most of Capitol's dealer merchandising aids and was involved in other stuff that involved design concepts---including LP album covers. We were all sort of a family in those early days of the mid-50s.
About the only story I can think of right now is my recollection of Bozo and the kids in hospital. I'll pass on other items if they come to mind.
BW, Don Hassler
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2004 18:03:03 -0500
I stumbled onto your website doing some research on Capitol records.
As soon as I saw your interviews with your stepdad, I hit the "print button"
Such enjoyable reading - thank you so much for publishing it!
I was researching a project he worked on at Capitol - the "Kenton Presents" series.
I am trying to find a complete list of the albums that were released in this group (10" 12" and 45 EP's)
If you or Mr. Hassler have any information on this, I would be grateful.
Subject: Kenton Presents
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 11:02:36 -0700
Dear Rob Green:
My daughter sent me info about your request re: the Kenton Presents jazz series, recorded at Capitol in the 1950s. I moved to LA in early 1955, at Stan's request, to work on the series fulltime. Stan had already done a Serge Chaloff album (Boston Blowup) and I produced several more with Cooper, Rosolino, Claude Williamson (Keys West), Ken Hanna and Bill Holman.
In 1957 Capitol decided not to support jazz that much and discontinued the series. A few odds and ends were finished up by Bill Miller, another album producer, and I returned to my previous work in sales and marketing.
I am pleased to tell you that Mosiac Records in CT has reissued several of the albums along with a FINE album book about the series and the artists. Their phone is 203-327-7111 and their website is www.mosiacrecords.com [site offline]
The reissue is Mosiac #MD4-185. Sy Johnson's liner notes are very good although the attribution of producers of what sessions is skewed a bit. Also, Bill Holman's Big Band was never part of the series. The intent of Stan and Capitol was to showcase some of the talented individuals who actually were playing, or had played, in the Stan Kenton band.
I hope this is good for you. If you need more let me know. What kind of research are you doing? For school? A book? Anything about jazz interests as I am an active musician (sax, clarinet, flute, bassoon) and still playing in this area.
I discovered another link you might put on the Capitol page. Check the U of Missouri website on "dave dexter jr" and the collection. Dave was with Cap for maybe 25-30 years and very influential in some of the jazz and international albums. Dave and I had adjoining offices while I worked on the intl series (Sales & Marketing Mgr).
On Nov 9, 2008, at 1:26 PM, Bgaswoodie@aol.com wrote:
Hmm. Interesting stuff about Capitol Records. Is any or most of it real? It does seem like alot to make-up, but I've heard of a lot of Capitol "hoax" material.
Myself, I only surfed in, hoping to find some info, pics, etc, on the Beach Boys, whom I collect. Wrong Capitol era, I suppose.
Here's a copy of the front of the monthly Capitol Publication "music Views" from August 1957. I didn't see any of the names associated with it on your site, which I thought, given the year, was a bit strange?
Editor, Vic Rowland; Associate Editor, Merrilyn Hammond; Publisher, Gordon R. Fraser.
I'll probably sell the ones I have on Ebay( or try)
From: Nori Muster
Date: November 10, 2008 10:39:37 AM MST
Subject: Re: website_contact
Hello - I asked my stepfather, who worked at Capitol, he said:
Gordon "Bud" Fraser is certainly on your site. But all of those other folks were colleagues on the 11th floor.
P.S. Specifically, what in the material do you think is fictional? If you can point out any inaccuracies, I will look into it.
From: "Andrew G. Doe" firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: June 10, 2009 10:00:20 AM GMT-07:00
Very interesting website. I have a slightly odd request - do you have any information on Dick Rising? I'm a Beach Boys researcher/historian/author, and there's considerable debate as to whether he was a real person or not (based entirely on his name, for obvious reasons). I've offered the interview and photo on your site as evidence, but some don't consider that sufficient.
Thanks in anticipation,
Andrew G. Doe
From: Nori Muster
Date: June 10, 2009 10:58:43 AM GMT-07:00
To: Paula/Don Hassler
Subject: Capitol Records contact
A Beach Boys historian wrote to me today after finding the website, you will like this one! People apparently think Dick Rising was a fictional character.
Begin forwarded message:
From: Nori Muster Date: June 10, 2009 10:55:50 AM GMT-07:00
To: "Andrew G. Doe" email@example.com
Subject: Re: website_contact
Hello Andrew, Dick Rising was indeed a real person and that was his real name.
My father and stepfather worked at Capitol Records in the 1950s, and knew him. You can see a photo of Dick Rising sitting in a meeting with my father here:
My stepfather is still living and can attest to the authenticity of Dick Rising's existence. I guess DR has become somewhat of a legend.
My parents will get a kick out of that.
P.S. Now about your name . . . .
From: L. Rising
Date: September 22, 2013 10:43:26 PM MST
Subject: Dick Rising
While searching the internet for information about my Dad, I came across an interview about your Dad and Capitol. I am L. Rising, the daughter of Dick Rising. . . . I think you mentioned that my dad wrote a letter for your dad. I would love to have a copy if possible, and find out what else you know. My dad died when I was 13 and I loved him very much . . . I hope you are well and I look forward to hearing from you.
From: Nori Muster
Date: September 23, 2013 3:04:35 PM MST To: L. Rising
Subject: Re: Dick Rising
Wonderful to meet you. I have met a few other children of people who worked at Capitol mid-century. We could start a club!
Here is the URL of the letter your father wrote for my father. The circumstances under which my father left Capitol were other than this letter indicates. My dad got himself fired over a misunderstanding between Capitol Records and Playboy magazine. I look back on it as a nostalgic fact of my upbringing, and would be happy to tell you more about it anytime. The letter your father wrote helped my dad get a good job, so I appreciate it.
Editor's note: I would like to thank Rob Green for donating the Capitol Tower grand opening booklet jpgs (click here) for these pages, as well as album cover scans.
Capitol Records Index