Capitol Records, Formed on This Day in 1942, Changed Radio and Changed My Life
Capitol Records would eventually be home to some of the biggest names in music history, but on June 4th, 1942, it was just another new company being started at an inopportune time.
To say 1942 was a rough time to start a new business on Planet Earth would be an understatement. Unless you made a product that killed & maimed, or healed those that have been maimed, you were as useless as Milli Vanilli's vocal coach (1991 slam - BOOM!). Created by three "insiders" in the music biz, Johnny Mercer, Buddy DeSylva and Glenn Wallichs.
Opening a spot on Sunset Boulevard, doors opened on the new record company on June 4th, 1942. That's also the same day a tradition started in radio that's carried on to this day. The practice of giving free records, CDs & (in 2015) mp3 copies of upcoming releases to radio DJs for promotion happened that same day as Wallichs took a record to Los Angeles DJ Peter Potter.
I'm not sure what the song was the was being promoted with that first free record, but in 2015 it's one of the only cool radio "benefits/perks" we still have. Everything else that was cool about radio has been taken from us as music "lists" become a singular "list" of songs approved across-the-board at the corporate level and then shoved into the ear holes of American radio listeners.
There was a time when I'd get a dozen CDs a week to listen to and approve. There are many instances when I'd get a CD, love the artist and songs, and have corporate say "Hell no". In those cases that CD would go directly into my collection and become a hidden gem that only I (and other radio types) know about. Marvelous 3. Stir. Ever heard of them? Nope? They're awesome, and I only know them because of the free product.
As great as getting to know otherwise unheard-of music is, it's not nearly as fun as getting CDs from artists that just plain suck. The method with which you get rid of crappy music may change, but it's fun regardless of the method of destruction chosen. When records were sent out, one slam onto the edge of an office desk would send shards flying.
CDs don't break as easy. That meant you had to get creative. I wish I would have had a camera to take pictures of a hunting trip taken in 2001. We weren't hunting dove, duck or deer. We were hunting Gallaghers, as in Noel & Liam, the Oasis a-holes. More specifically, we were hunting Oasis promotional CDs.
I don't remember the song or the album title, but I remember hanging a couple dozen CDs from branches on a tree and turning the arsenal loose. Between an SKS and a couple 12-gauge shotguns those limey Brits didn't stand a chance. CDs, as it turns out, are the perfect size for target practice.
Oasis may have been the first, but they certainly weren't the last. There may even still be CDs hanging from that tree for all I know. Future peoples or aliens will look at that Texas farm, up in those branches, and spend years trying to figure out the significance of strange metal circles hanging from trees. It could very well become a mystery as complex and unsolvable as Easter Island.
We have Mr. Wallichs and his nose for promotion to thank for all the fun those promo copies have brought to bored, jaded radio DJs over the years. It's a damn shame they send mp3 copies now. What are we supposed to do with that? You know, other than posting the tracks on file-sharing sites to undermine the very existence of record companies, of course. That's a given.