Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I noticed mention in an entertainment magazine of Robert Sarnoff, head of NBC in the '50s and '60s.

While no reference was made about him performing or having anything to do with the recording industry, I seem to recall a piece in one of your columns long ago about a rare and pricy Sarnoff record. Am I dreaming this? Also, is this the same guy who made the vodka?
—Len Ingle, Denver

DEAR LEN: About the record, you are not dreaming; however, you are in dreamland reagarding the vodka. Someone named Smirnoff is behind Russia's national drink.

His one and only "pricy Sarnoff record" is titled "Robert W. Sarnoff — 25 Years Of RCA Leadership" (RWS-0001), RCA (then owned by NBC) made the album in 1973 for Sarnoff's retirement and to honor his 25 years with the company. He is prominently pictured on the front cover.

Intended as an in-house only commemorative release, Victor made only a few dozen copies — some say around 50 — thus accounting for the rarity factor.

A chronological quarter-century retrospectve, this LP features excerpts of tunes by most of RCA Victor's hit makers in the following eight categories:

1. "The Post-War Years: Crooners - Comedy - Mambo"
2. "From the Golden Classics to the Presley Era"
3. "Broadway's Brightest Lights"
4. "The Closing Fifties"
5. "The Middle Years: Soundtracks - Instrumentals - Country"
6. "Rock Begins"
7. "The New RCA"
8. "Epilog"

The demand for this oddity is mostly due to so many Elvis collectors, since excerpts of four of his songs are included: "Hound Dog" (1956); "Don't Be Cruel" (1956); "Heartbreak Hotel" (1956); and "In the Ghetto" (1969).

Since value is determined by a combination of scarcity and demand, this item is a predestined winner. Seldom offered for sale, the few that have changed hands in recent years have sold in the $1,000 to $2,000 range.

In a related entertainment field, Robert W. Sarnoff was a key player in the development of color television programming.

He died Feb. 22, 1997 at the age of 78.

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