Twenty-Four Hours Of Sunshine / The Wedding of Lili Marlene
Capitol Records was founded in Los Angeles in 1942 by singer / songwriter Johnny Mercer, with a little financial help from songwriter and movie producer Buddy DeSylva and Glenn Wallichs. Quickly after, on July first, the company issues its first 9 records, including one of Johnny Mercer's own material, called Strip Polka. Records numbered from 101 to 109 were 78 rpms and were issued with the very first version of the Capitol label: black, with the words CAPITOL written in script lettering, behind which was placed the image of the Capitol dome building and four silver stars . Below the name we could also see the structure of the building, but this detail was quickly dropped after 50 or so records, to become the classic logo that we still know today. (some later 78 rpm records were sporadically pressed with these early leftover labels).
In the late 1940s, music quickly became a booming business all over North America and around the world due in most part to the fact that it was much more accessible through radio stations, jukeboxes and personal phonograph players. It did not take too long for Capitol USA to realize the great potential of the Canadian market if customers had the opportunity to buy domestic products instead of paying expensive fees to import their favorite records. In 1947 in fact, Capitol incorporated the Capitol Canada company and hired Ken Kerr, a former Sparton Records sales manager from London, Ontario to run Canadian operations for Capitol, therefore being then, the only Canadian employee of the company!
This did not last long however, as the operation was shut down soon after because of Government restrictions on foreign investments. The project was too good to simply accept its demise that easily. So Ken Kerr and two other associates had the idea to start their own record company, and that way they MIGHT just inherit the contract to press records for Capitol, here in Canada. They succesfully raised enough money through different investors and found a commercial property in London, Ontario near the railroad tracks, making it easy to ship records once they were pressed. They named the company Regal Records. (not to be confused with the 1914 British label of the same name).
Until Regal was up and running, Capitol Canada remained inactive, but Capitol USA still wanted to put their hand on the Canadian market share, so for the next year and a half or so, they had their records pressed by Musicana, the company where Ken Kerr's associate (Scotty McLachlan) was working until it closed down, leading the way to Regal Records
One quick year later, in August 1948, with only 12 employees, Regal Records started to press 10 inch 78 rpm records. The first Regal pressing being "You Call Everybody Darling" by Al Trace actually sold quite enough to gain the attention of other record companies. Things went well for Regal and they soon began pressing records for USA labels like REGENT and soon after, in June 1949, they signed the well deserved 5 year contract to press Capitol Records in Canada.
The deal for this contract was secured by Lockwood Miller, a business man who had invested in Regal Records a few months earlier, and therefore became president of the Capitol Records Canada (who replaced Regal) until 1954. In light of the amazing market shares of Capitol in Canada, the board voted to created a fully owned Canadian subsidiary. They did not renew the contract and preferred to arrange all future pressings and distribution themselves by moving all operations to Toronto before later opening more offices in Montreal and Vancouver.
Backtracking to 1949, the newly formed company was now pressing discs for Capitol Records, and the first ever Capitol Record out of the press and distributed domestically was a 78 rpm disc by Gordon Macrae called "Twenty-Four Hours Of Sunshine" with "The Wedding Of Lili Marlene" on the flip side. This record was attributed the well suited catalog number 78-101 with matrix numbers 4661 4D22 etched in the trail off area.
As seen previously, Capitol had first started issuing their records on the black and silver label in the USA, but by 1949, the label style had already changed to purple. So Capitol records manufactured in Canada were no different, making their first release on a purple and silver label similar to the US label. The only difference was that here, labels had two silver horizontal bars separating the label above the spindle hole. This detail was actually identical to the UK Capitol label of the time.
"Capitol of Canada" was written across the label with a Canadian perimeter print stating and "Made in Canada" with the usual all rights reserved notice. Canadian records did not have the extra structure under the logo since the label was changed long before Canadian operations were launched.
This was not necessarily Gordon Macrae's best selling record, but it did nevertheless become a landmark in Canadian music history, being the first ever record pressed by Capitol Records in Canada; a company still active today that soon started a long tradition of promoting Canadian artists, as well as being the first to diffuse the European music scene all the way across the Atlantic ocean with best selling artists from the British invasion.
|78-101||Gordon Macrae||Twenty-Four Hours Of Sunshine / The Wedding Of Lili Marlene|
|The very first record pressed and distributed by Capitol Records Canada|
|78-102||Andy Parker and the Plainsmen||By The Light of The Altar Candles / Whippoorwill Waltz|
|78-103||Woody Herman||The Crickets / More Moon|
|78-104||Kay Starr||I Wish I Had A Wishbone / There's Yes! Yes! In Your Eyes|
|78-105||The Jubilaires||Mene Mene Teckel / Somebody Broke My Dolly|
|78-106||Tex Williams||Ham 'n Eggs / Cowpuncher's Waltz|
|78-107||Betty Hutton||Hamlet / That's Loyalty|
|78-108||The Weidler Brothers||The Jolka Polka / The Schnitzelbank Polka|
|78-109||Peggy Lee||Neon Signs / Through A Long And Sleepless Night|
|78-110||King Cole Trio||Your Voice / I Get Sentimental Over Nothing|
For a detailed list of the early Capitol records, click here