Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I doubt you've been asked this before, but who would you say are the top vinyl era artists for some familiar labels?

Unless it's the artist's own imprint, such as the Beatles on Capitol/Apple, I'd prefer to see each label listed separately, rather than under a holding company umbrella.
—Doreen Truman, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR DOREEN: You're right. Via the column or otherwise, I never been asked this, nor has the topic even crossed my mind.

Though there is no known source for a fact-based reply, I promise an educated analysis of 100 vinyl era labels, especially when comparing their top artists. Still, picking just one performer was not always easy, but here goes. Listing is alphabetical by label:

A&M: Herb Alpert (& Tijuana Brass)
ABC (ABC-Paramount): Ray Charles
Amy: Del Shannon
Argo: Etta James
Arista: Whitney Houston
Asylum: Eagles
Atco: Bobby Darin
Atlantic: Aretha Franklin
B.T. Puppy: Happenings
Backstreet: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Bell: 5th Dimension
Beltone: Bobby Lewis
Big Top: Del Shannon
Buddah: 1910 Fruitgum Co.
Buena Vista: Annette
Brunswick: Jackie Wilson
Cadence: Everly Brothers
Cadet: Dells
Cameo: Bobby Rydell
Capitol (Including Apple): Beatles
Capricorn: Allman Brothers Band
Casablanca: Donna Summer
Challenge: Jerry Wallace
Chancellor: Frankie Avalon
Checker: Little Milton
Chess: Chuck Berry
Coed: Crests (Featuring Johnny Maestro)
Colgems: Monkees
Colpix: James Darren
Columbia: Barbra Streisand
Coral: Teresa Brewer
Cotillion: Brook Benton
Curtom: Impressions
Dakar: Tyrone Davis
Decca: Brenda Lee
Del-Fi: Ritchie Valens
De-Lite: Kool & the Gang
Diamond: Ronnie Dove
Disc-Reet: Frank Zappa (& Mothers of Invention)
Dolton: Ventures
Dot: Pat Boone
Duke: Bobby "Blue" Bland
Dunhill: Three Dog Night
Elektra: Doors
End: Flamingos
Epic: Michael Jackson
Everest: Gloria Lynne
Fantasy: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Gee: Teenagers (Featuring Frankie Lymon)
Gordy: Temptations
Harvest: Pink Floyd
Hi: Al Green
Hot Wax: Honey Cone
Imperial: Ricky Nelson
Island: U2
Jamie: Duane Eddy
Kama Sutra: Lovin' Spoonful
Kapp: Roger Williams
Keen: Sam Cooke
King: James Brown
Laurie: Dion (& Belmonts)
Legrand: Gary "U.S." Bonds
Liberty: Bobby Vee
London: Rolling Stones
MCA (Including Rocket): Elton John
Mercury: Platters
MGM: Connie Francis
Monument: Roy Orbison
Moonglow: Righteous Brothers
Motown: Supremes (Diana Ross &)
Musicor: Gene Pitney
Ode: Carole King
Parkway: Chubby Checker
Parrot: Tom Jones
Philips: 4 Seasons (Frankie Valli &)
Philles: Righteous Brothers
Phillips: Bill Justis
Planet: Pointer Sisters
RCA Victor: Elvis Presley
Red Bird: Shangri-las
Reprise: Frank Sinatra
Roulette: Tommy James (& Shondells)
RSO: Bee Gees
Scepter: Dionne Warwick
Sire: Madonna
Smash: Jerry Lee Lewis
Soul: Jr. Walker & the All Stars
Specialty: Little Richard
Stax: Johnnie Taylor
Sun: Jerry Lee Lewis
Swan: Freddy Cannon
Tamla: Stevie Wonder
Tollie: Beatles
T-Neck: Isley Brothers
United Artists: Ferrante & Teicher
Vanguard: Joan Baez
Volt: Otis Redding
Wand: Chuck Jackson
Warner Bros.: Rod Stewart
White Whale: Turtles

DEAR JERRY: It's been well documented that Florence Ballard, backup singer of the Supremes, saw her life take a downward turn following the promotion of Diana Ross to lead singer. Did the Supremes have a hit with either Mary or Flo on lead? Were records issued before Diana's "promotion," or was she pretty much the lead singer from the start, and the Mary and Flo demotion story has just taken on a life of its own?
—Bell Steven, Camden, N.J.

DEAR BELL: With only a couple of exceptions, Ross was the lead singer from the beginning, including their pre-Supremes outing as the Primettes.

Here is a recap of singles from their first recording (1960) to when Diana left the group to go solo (1969):

As the Primettes:
1960 (Lupine 120): "Tears of Sorrow" (Diane Ross)/"Pretty Baby" (Mary Wilson)
A-side is pure doo-wop. At the time of this pre-Motown single, Ross had not yet changed her name to Diana. Neither side charted anywhere.

As the Supremes:
1961 (Tamla 54038): "I Want a Guy"/"Never Again"
A-side appeared on several regional charts, but always closer to the bottom than the top. Both sides feature "Diana" Ross.
1961 (Tamla 54045): "Buttered Popcorn" (Florence Ballard)/"Who's Lovin' You" (Diana Ross)
Neither side charted anywhere.
1962-1969 (Motown 1027-1156): From "Your Heart Belongs to Me" through "Someday We'll Be Together"

All 32 of the hit songs in this group feature Diana Ross, though on three tracks, "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me"; "I'll Try Something New"; and "The Weight," the Supremes are joined by the Temptations.

Among these are 12 No. 1s and 25 Top 10 hits on one or more of the national charts.

IZ ZAT SO? None of the Supremes singles before "Where Did Our Love Go" (summer 1964) sold nearly as well as those issued later.

Here are some auction results of that early material, confirming that scarcity is directly proportional to value:

Lupine 120: "Tears of Sorrow" $766
Tamla 54038: "I Want a Guy" $295
Tamla 54045: "Buttered Popcorn" $178
Motown 1027: "Your Heart Belongs to Me" (Record only) $86
Motown 1027: "Your Heart Belongs to Me" (With picture sleeve) $3,950
Motown 1034: "Let Me Go the Right Way" $40
Motown 1040: "My Heart Can't Take It No More" $68
Motown 1044: "A Breath Taking, First Sight Soul Shaking, One Night Love
Making, Next Day Heart Breaking Guy" $175
Motown 1044: "A Breath Taking Guy" (With shortened title) $32
Motown 1051: "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes" $28
Motown 1054: "Run, Run, Run" $25

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