June 25, 2017

Birth of the 45 rpm record ~ March 31, 1949

I must have been 12 or 13 when I bought my first record. It was a 45 RPM; which one I have no recollection. I do remember my first LP (link below).   

Since I had been a kid I had listened to the 78 RPM records my mom and dad had in their collection, classical and big band from mom and Latin music from dad. I had discovered a new kind of record, the 45. The 45s were really cheap, less than a dollar each; that fit my allowance perfectly and I could buy the music I liked. It was my first taste of buying power.  

When I was in Junior High I would go to parties and the kids would play their records which were horribly scratched and sounded terrible. I would never let mine get that way; and I still have them in almost mint condition.    

Dawn of the 45 RPM

The 45 or 7-inch is the most common form of the vinyl single. The names are derived from its play speed, 45 RPM, and the standard diameter, 7 inches (18 cm). 

Recording technology had changed radically since Emile Berliner invented the gramophone record in the 1890s. It had gone from unresponsive acoustic recording horns and direct to disc master recording to full electrical recording and tape masters. But little had changed with the records themselves. They still rotated at 78 RPM, still made of noisy shellac and extremely fragile.   
That all changed when the 7-inch 45 RPM record was released on March 31, 1949 by RCA Victor as a smaller, more durable and higher fidelity replacement for the 78 rpm shellac discs. The first 45 RPM records were monaural, with recordings on both sides of the disc. As stereo recordings became popular in the 1960s, almost all 45 RPM records were produced in stereo by the early 1970s.   

Columbia, which had released the 33 ⅓ rpm 12-inch vinyl LP in June 1948 (link below), also released 33 ⅓ rpm 7-inch vinyl singles in March 1949, but they were soon eclipsed by the RCA Victor 45. The first 45 RPM record created was "PeeWee the Piccolo" RCA Victor 47-0146 pressed 7 December 1948 at the Sherman Avenue plant in Indianapolis, Indiana.     

The RCA 7" inch 45 RPM record was cute, VERY small, and RCA's very colorful vinyl (each genre of music had it's own colour of vinyl!) made it an instant hit with young people. Popular releases were on standard black vinyl. Country releases were on green vinyl, Children's records were on yellow vinyl, Classical releases were on red vinyl, "Race" (or R&B and Gospel) records were on orange vinyl, Blue vinyl/blue label was used for semi-classical instrumental music and blue vinyl/black label for international recordings.   

The 45 RPM record and RCA 45 players (link below) had a few problems. First, the players could only play 45 RPM records. Nothing else. Second, classical music fans still had to put up with the same mid-movement breaks that plagued symphonic fans since the dawn of classical recording. Something the 33 1/3 RPM record rarely had.       

This era at the beginning of the '50s was called "The Battle of The Speeds" Some people preferred the 33 1/3 RPM LP, others the new 45 RPM players and old timers who insisted on the 78 RPM speed. The other major labels mostly aligned with the 33 1/3 RPM LP for albums (Capitol however released albums in all three speeds) and 45 and 78 RPM for singles. The 45s were super cheap, less than a dollar each.

The 78 RPM single began disappearing in the early '50s and the 78 RPM speed regulated to children's records through hand-me-down phonographs from their parents. The last American commercially released 78 RPM singles appeared in 1959, however they were still made for children's records and older jukeboxes until 1964.   

And thus began the era of the 45s. An era that lasted 40 wonderful years. Before the cassette tape, CD and MP3 player, 45s were the perfect portable personal music medium.  

Viewfinder links:  
My first LP     
Birth of the 33 1/3 RPM LP          
The RCA Victor 45-EY-2 45 RPM record player         

June 23, 2017

Gene Kelly articles/mentions

Singin' In the Rain           
The Pajama Game         
Birth of the 33 1/3 RPM LP            
Gene Kelly - 1943           
publicity photo         

June 21, 2017

Birth of the 33 1/3 RPM LP ~ June 18, 1948

This month marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern vinyl LP record developed by Columbia Records almost seventy years ago.

photo by Styrous®

CBS Laboratories head research scientist Peter Goldmark led Columbia's team to develop a phonograph record that would hold at least 20 minutes per side. The team included Howard H. Scott, who died September 22, 2012, at the age of 92.

Research began in 1941, was suspended during World War II, and then resumed in 1945. Columbia Records unveiled the LP at a press conference in the Waldorf Astoria on June 18, 1948, in two formats: 10 inches (25 centimetres) in diameter, matching that of 78 rpm singles, and 12 inches (30 centimetres) in diameter.     

The initial release of 133 recordings were: 85 twelve-inch classical LP's (ML4001 to 4085), 26 ten-inch classics (ML2001 to 2026), 18 ten-inch popular numbers (CL6001 to 6018) and 4 ten-inch juvenile records (JL 8001 to 8004).     

According to the 1949 Columbia catalog, issued September 1948, the first twelve-inch LP was the Felix Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 (1844), conducted by Bruno Walter with Nathan Milstein playing violin and the New York Philharmonic (ML 4001). Milstein made four other recordings of the concerto.       

Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 (1844) 
Nathan Milstein - violin, 
the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Bruno Walter  
September 1948 recording 

Three ten-inch series were released: 'popular', starting with the reissue of The Voice of Frank Sinatra (CL 6001); 'classical', numbering from the Symphony No. 8 by Ludwig van Beethoven (ML 2001), and 'juvenile', commencing with Nursery Songs by Gene Kelly (JL 8001).

September 1948 recording 

Also released at this time were a pair of 2-LP opera sets, La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini, SL-1 and Hansel & Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck (not the 1960's singer), SL-2.     
When the LP was introduced in 1948, the 78 was the conventional format for phonograph records. The major labels in the United States ceased the manufacturing of 78s for popular and classical releases in 1956.      

"It was so exciting to go to the record shop,
buy a piece of vinyl and hold it, 
read the liner notes, look at the pictures. 
Even the smell of the vinyl."
                                   Martin Gore

Styrous® ~ June 21, 2017

Frank Sinatra articles/mentions

Blue Eyes @ 100     
September of My Years     
Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass  
Ella Fitzgerald ~ Queen of Jazz 
David Gates       
Engelbert Humperdinck
Rock Around the Clock     
Nancy Sinatra     
In Memoriam         

Frank Sinatra - 1943



June 20, 2017

Truman Capote articles/mentions

Breakfast at Tiffany's           
Carl Van Vechten & the Harlem Renaissance 
In Memoriam        
           Truman Capote, 1948 
photo by Carl Van Vechten


Kaisik Wong articles/mentions


Betty Davis, Kaisik Wong & Sandra Sakata
Betty Davis ~ They Say I'm Different  
Sandra Sakata & the Obiko fashion shows 
Obiko fashion show history     
In Memoriam              

Kaisik Wong 
photographer unknown 

William P. Gottlieb: Jazz photographer

William Paul Gottlieb (January 28, 1917 – April 23, 2006) was an American photographer and newspaper columnist who is best known for his classic photographs of the leading performers of the "Golden Age" of American jazz in the 1930s and 1940s. Gottlieb's photographs are among the best known and widely reproduced images of this era of jazz.       

During the course of his career, Gottlieb took portraits of hundreds of prominent jazz musicians and personalities, typically while they were playing or singing at well-known New York City jazz clubs. Well-known musicians Gottlieb photographed included Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Hines, Jo Stafford, Thelonious Monk, Stan Kenton, Ray McKinley, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Louis Jordan, Ella Fitzgerald and Benny Carter.

WINX radio station, Washington 
photographer unknown

Billie Holiday - February 1947

Art Tatum - 1946-48
Vogue Room, New York City, N.Y.

Louis Armstrong - July 1946 
the Aquarium, New York City

Ella Fitzgerald - November 1946

Dizzy Gillespie -1946 - 1948 
Club Downbeat, West 52nd Street

Charlie Parker & Miles Davis - August 1947 
the Three Deuces, New York City

Django Reinhardt & Duke Ellington - November 1946
the Aquarium, New York City

Net links:     
Library of Congress Gottlieb collection links:     
       about the collection      
       collection overview   
       collection items  
New York Times obit        
Viewfinder links:             
Styrous® ~ Tuesday, June 20, 2017        


June 19, 2017

Leonard Bernstein articles/mentions

Dionne Warwick     
The Harlem Renaissance 
The Stip    
Zebedy Colt   
In Memoriam 


Leonard Bernstein   
photo by Jack Mitchel      

Bessie Smith articles/mentions

Negro “Blues” Singers         
In Memoriam          
 photo by Carl Van Vechten

Eartha Kitt articles/mentions

Batman, Adam West & the Whole Gang     
In Memoriam      
Eartha Kitt - 1952          
photo by Carl Van Vechten         


Dizzy Gillespie articles/mentions

Ella Fitzgerald ~ Queen of Jazz        
The Harlem Renaissance         
Verve Records & Norman Granz    
In Memoriam  

          Dizzy Gillespie - 1955
photo by Carl Van Vechten


Billie Holiday articles/mentions

Blood, Sweat & Tears     
William P. Gottlieb      
The Harlem Renaissance      
Verve Records & Norman Granz        
In Memoriam    


Billie Holiday - 1949       
photo by Carl Van Vechten     




Arthur Fiedler articles/mentions


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky ~ 1812 Overture        
John Williams ~ A Soundtrack King       
In Memoriam     


June 18, 2017

Harry Belefonte Articles/mentions

At the Greek Theater      
Black History Month          

Harry Belefonte - 1954          
photo by Carl Van Vechten       

Carl Van Vechten articles/mentions

Ella Fitzgerald ~ Queen of Jazz  
Negro “Blues” Singers         
The Nutcracker         
The War of the Worlds      



Photographers on the Viewfinder

Ansel Adams     
Ari Seth Cohen      
Robert Frank          
Robert Frank & Georgia O'Keeffe         
William P. Gottlieb          
Robert "Bob" Hartman
Phillip Hofstetter     
Pearl Jones-Tranter             
Nadav Kander                                                                  photo by Styrous®
Annie Leibovitz          
Mary Ellen Mark                     
Matthew Shallenberger     
Phil Stern                                
Carl Van Vechten   
Ken Van Sickle   
William S. (Simrell) Young       


June 17, 2017

Carl Van Vechten & the Harlem Renaissance

Harlem Renaissance

Today, June 17, is the birthday of photographer Carl Van Vechten. Born in 1880, he was an American writer and artistic photographer who was a patron of the Harlem Renaissance.    

Carl Van Vechten Self-portrait (1934) 

He was the literary executor of Gertrude Stein. Van Vechten met Gertrude Stein in Paris in 1913. They continued corresponding for the remainder of Stein's life, and at her death she appointed Van Vechten her literary executor; he helped to bring into print her unpublished writings.   

Van Vechten was interested in black writers and artists, and knew and promoted many of the major figures of the Harlem Renaissance, including Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Ethel Waters, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston and Wallace Thurman. Van Vechten's controversial novel Nigger Heaven was published in 1926.

Nigger Heaven - 1926

His essay Negro Blues Singers was published in Vanity Fair in 1926 (link below). Biographer Edward White suggests Van Vechten was convinced that Negro culture was the essence of America.      

The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural, social, and artistic movement that took place in Harlem, New York, spanning from about 1918 until the mid-1930s. During the time, it was known as the "New Negro Movement", named after the 1925 anthology by Alain Locke. The Movement also included the new African-American cultural expressions across the urban areas in the Northeast and Midwest United States affected by the African-American Great Migration, of which Harlem was the largest. The Harlem Renaissance was considered to be a rebirth of African-American arts. Though it was centered in the Harlem neighborhood of the borough of Manhattan in New York City, many francophone black writers from African and Caribbean colonies who lived in Paris were also influenced by the Harlem Renaissance.

Many of its ideas lived on much longer. The zenith of this "flowering of Negro literature", as James Weldon Johnson preferred to call the Harlem Renaissance, took place between 1924 (when Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life hosted a party for black writers where many white publishers were in attendance) and 1929 (the year of the stock market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression).  

By the start of the 1930s and at age 50, Van Vechten took up photography, using his apartment at 150 West 55th Street as a studio. 

Billie Holiday - 1949 

Dizzy Gillespie - 1955 

Feral Benga - 1937  

Gloria Davy - 1958 


Pearl Bailey - July 5, 1946

W. C. Handy - 1941 

Among the many individuals he photographed were Gertrude Abercrombie, Peter Abrahams, Mercedes de Acosta, Adele Addison, Alvin Ailey, Edward Albee, Sara Allgood, Marguerite D'Alvarez, Judith Anderson, Marian Anderson, Antony Armstrong-Jones, W. H. Auden, Don Bachardy, Pearl Bailey, Josephine Baker, James Baldwin, Pierre Balmain, Tallulah Bankhead, Albert C. Barnes, Theda Bara, Harry Belafonte, Barbara Bel Geddes, Thomas Hart Benton, Leonard Bernstein, Mary McLeod Bethune, Karen Blixen, Jane Bowles, Marlon Brando, Witter Bynner, James Branch Cabell, Paul Cadmus, Erskine Caldwell, Truman Capote, Bennett Cerf, Marc Chagall, Giorgio de Chirico, Constance Collier, Katharine Cornell, Countee Cullen, Roald Dahl, Salvador Dalí, Ossie Davis, Gloria Davy, Ruby Dee, Norman Douglas, Evelyn Dove, Alfred Drake, John Van Druten, Jacob Epstein, Ella Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Fizdale, Lynn Fontanne, Ruth Ford, Ben Gazzara, John Gielgud, Dizzy Gillespie, Arthur Gold, Martha Graham, W. C. Handy, John Hersey, Al Hirschfeld, Billie Holiday, William Hopper, Lena Horne, Horst P. Horst, Zora Neale Hurston, Christopher Isherwood, Mahalia Jackson, Philip Johnson, Frida Kahlo, Eartha Kitt, Gaston Lachaise, Hugh Laing, Fernand Léger, Lotte Lenya, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Sidney Lumet, Alfred Lunt, Norman Mailer, Alicia Markova, Henri Matisse, W. Somerset Maugham, Elsa Maxwell, Carson McCullers, Colin McPhee, Gian Carlo Menotti, Henry Miller, Joan Miró, Marianne Moore, Helen Morgan, Robert Morse, Patricia Neal, Ramón Novarro, Georgia O'Keeffe, Laurence Olivier, Christopher Plummer, Tyrone Power, Leontyne Price, Vincent Price, Diego Rivera, Jerome Robbins, Paul Robeson, Cesar Romero, Bertram Ross, Arthur Schwartz, George Schuyler, Beverly Sills, Gertrude Stein, James Stewart, Alfred Stieglitz, Ada "Bricktop" Smith, Bessie Smith, Paul Taylor, Prentiss Taylor, Pavel Tchelitchew, Virgil Thomson, Alice B. Toklas, Antony Tudor, Gloria Vanderbilt, Gore Vidal, Khaled Abdul-Wahab, Hugh Walpole, Evelyn Waugh, Orson Welles, Thornton Wilder, Donald Windham, Thomas Wolfe, Anna May Wong, Lin Yutang and Richard Wright.   
Van Vechten died in 1964, at the age of 84, in New York City. His ashes were scattered over Shakespeare Gardens, Central Park, Manhattan, New York City.         

Net links:  
Negro “Blues” Singers by Carl Van Vechten        
Carl Van Vechten Gallery        

Styrous® ~ Saturday, June 17, 2017