We're going to spend this week looking at some records from the Los Angeles based Elektra Records. Elektra was formed in 1950 by Jac Holzman and Paul Rickolt and focused on re-releasing old classical music records whose copyright had lapsed.
Like every sensible human being who had seen The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan show on February 9, 1964, Holzman saw the future of music in America. He decided he needed to sign a modern rock act. But who? Who should be the first rock act on the label? There was a band called The Byrds that were getting some attention down on Sunset Strip. The band had recorded a number of demos at World Pacific Studios and they were shopping the masters around. A trepidatious Holzman decided to take a chance on the band, but for reasons that are murky at best, Holzman decided to release the record under a fake moniker, the very British sounding one of The Beefeaters. The record flopped. Not surprising. Elektra had no skin in the rock-n-roll game, The Beefeaters didn't exist and fans of The Byrds didn't even know they released their first record.
While Holzman pondered what to do next, Miles Davis, who could also see the future of rock in America, got wind of this new group and their debut single. He called his A&R man at Columbia, Allen Stanton, and told Stanton about an LA group he should check out. By the time Holzman had called The Byrds back to sign them, they were signing with Columbia Records just days after Holzman released their first record.
The Byrds would soar to great heights with their mega-label support and Holzman would lick his wounds and try to learn from his mistake. But more on that tomorrow.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!