In Hollywood/Hollywood records : An R & B Split Personality
Part Two : Hollywood Records
In October of 1953, it is announced that Don Pierce formerly with 4-Star Records, has acquired substantial interest in Starday Records of Houston, a Country & Western label. Pierce also forms a new company, Hollywood Records to specialize in Rhythm & Blues and will lease masters produced by John Dolphin formerly of Recorded In Hollywood.
The first releases for Hollywood are #1001 - "In The Clay" and "Strange Love" by Charles Brown with Johnny Moore's Three Blazers. Linda Hayes does "Yours For The Asking" and "Take Me Back" on #1003. Norman Alexander performs "Dim Lights" / "My Baby Left Me" on #1004, and Country Slim does "What Wrong Have I Done" bw "My Girlish Days" by Miss Country Slim for #1005. Charles Brown and Moore's Three Blazers return with "Pleading For Your Love" and "The Best I Can" for #1006. A rare gospel release for the company is on #1007 by Bishop Narcisse - "He That Believeth" and "My Mind Is Standing On Jesus". Red Callendar does one side of #1008 - "Voodoo" and the flip side is by J.D. Nicholson "Typin' And Wonderin'". "No Next Time" and "Don't Do Nothing Baby" by Linda Hayes is #1009.
At this time John Dolphin begins a new label Lucky, which will be distributed by Hollywood Records. Also at this time Decca enters into an agreement to lease records from Hollywood. Johnny Taylor records "Over The Hill" and "Foolin' Around" on #1011, Peppy Prince with the Rhythm Lads record "Work Man Work" and "The Honky Tonk" with vocal by Christine Chatman on #1013. Ben Hughes records #1014 - "Someday, Some Place" / "I'm Crazy About You", Sonny Woods & The Twigs "Chapel Of Memories" / "Song Of India" on #1015, and #1016 - "Play It Right" and "Your Back's Out". In August Hollywood allows Linda Hayes to record for King records, and in October Hollywood buys masters of Christmas tunes on Swing Time records including "Merry Christmas Baby" by Charles Brown.
Beginning the new year of 1955, Hollywood buys a further number of masters from Swing Time including those by Lloyd Glenn and Lowell Fulson. Hollywood #1021 is the re-release "Merry Christmas Baby" by Charles Brown, paired with Lloyd Glenn's "Sleighride", #1022 - "Lonesome Christmas (parts one & two) by Lowell Fulson with Lloyd Glenn. Mabel Scott's "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus" is paired with Jimmy Witherspoon's "I Hate To See Christmas" on #1023. #1026 is by Sonny Woods & The Twigs - "Lover Boy" / "Wonderful World", Linda Hayes does "Darling Angel" and "Change Of Heart" on #1027, and King Perry plays "Pitching A Party" and "Back To Kansas City" on #1030.
Hollywood #1031 is the first tribute song to Johnny Ace (who died the past New Year's Eve backstage in Houston the result of an accidental shooting). It is by Linda Hayes - "Why Johnny Why?" and the flip is also a Johnny Ace tribute song - "Johnny Ace's Last Letter" by Frankie Irwin backed up by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers. She also has #1032 "Our Love's Forever Blessed" and "You're The Only One For Me". Johnny Fuller records "Black Cat" and "Train Train Blues" on #1043. Frankie Irwin with Johnny Moore's Three Blazers record the seasonal "Christmas Eve Baby" and "Christmas Every Day" on #1045. The Jackson Trio (also called The Ebonaires on some copies) record "Jingle Bell Hop" and "Love For Christmas" for #1046. The Pyramids record "Bow Wow" / "Someday" on #1047.
In 1956 the Hollywood label carries on even though they are still searching for a national hit record. West coast vocal group The Feathers record "Dear One" and "Lonesome Tonight" for #1051, and Peewee Crayton does "Stepping Out" and "Hey Little Dreamboat" for #1055. In April of 1956 Don Pierce purchases the catalog of Money Music run by John Dolphin. The deal includes the big instrumental hit by Ernie Freeman "Jivin' Around". Johnny Fuller records "Mean Old World" and "How Long" on #1057, and "Roughest Place In Town" and "Comin' Round The Corner" on #1063.
Hollywood release #1065 combines "Honey Chile" by Phil Flowers & The Batmen and the flip is by Joe Lyons & His Arrows - "What's New With You?". #1066 is "What Can I Do" / "Don't Go" by Curley Bridges with Frank Motley ", Motley returns with "Boomerang Lover" and "The Last Time" on #1067, Phil Flowers sings "What It Means To Be Blue" and "Lover Man" on #1070, and Joe Lyons & The Arrows record "One Too Many Times" and "No End To True Love" for #1071.For the holiday season of 1956 Hollywood Records issues an R & B Christmas album titled "Merry Christmas Baby" which includes the title tune by Charles Brown. Two Johnny Fuller sides are issued in 1957 - "Too Late To Change" / "My Mama Told Me" on #1077, and "Sunny Road" / "I Can't Succeed" on #1084. The L'Captans sing "The Bells Ring Out" / "Call A Doctor" on #1092, and on #1100 - Jay Richards does "Echoes On My Mind" / "Little Cheryl".
In March of 1958 Don Pierce works a distribution deal with Goldband Records of Louisiana, which could lead to Goldband artists releasing records on the Hollywood label. That month #1086 features two tunes by Tal Miller - "Only Sixteen" and "You Love Me", #1087 - "Mabel's Gone" / "Pledging My Love" by Johnny Jano, Jay Nelson & His Jumpers - "Raise Some Sand" and "Lover's Plea" are released. The following month Phil Flowers on #1089 records "You Stole My Heart" and "Rosa Lee". By the end of the year the label is still in there pitching with Tal Miller's "B-A-B-Y" and "What Is Life Without Love?"
Hollywood Records lasts (just barely) into 1959 having a long losing streak of going without hit status, and it seems the long history of the label shows that it lasted beyond its time in the sun. It functioned as a strict R & B label in the late 40s and early 50s, and could not make the transition to a more pop oriented style by the time that the late fifties came around. Before that however, it was an important part of the development of the music that captured America and the world in the mid 1950s. Recorded In Hollywood and then its successor Hollywood Records, remain a part of the historic landscape of American music.
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