April 17, 2011

His practice of having white singers record black artists’ hits is credited by some with helping black musicians — and early rock music — break into the commercial mainstream.

Before I started out in the music business in the early 60’s, Randy Wood was one of the first names I recognized from record labels. As a young impressionable singer/ songwriter I wanted to be like his biggest star on Dot records, Pat Boone, the only problem I had was that I was black!

When I went to visit relatives in Monessen, Pa. whether I was in a car, a store, or somebody’s house, it felt like I was constantly surrounded by this fresh, forbidden music called Rock and Roll. My cousin Sharon laughed when I asked who the Black guy was singing Rick Nelson’s song, “I’m Walkin’.” She said, “It’s Fats Domino, who wrote it and did the original record.”

This was the first time that I realized that Top 40 radio in New York didn’t play “race records,” as music by “colored” artists was known. I never heard the original version of, “Sh-Boom” by the Chords; the only version I knew was the cover record by the white pop group, The Crew Cuts; I even thought of Pat Boone as the originator of “Ain’t That a Shame”.

Then I started hearing stories about Randy Wood, the man behind Pat Boone and Dot Records.

By Valerie J. Nelson, L.A Times Obituary

April 14, 2011

Dot Records founder Randy Wood was looking for a song for a young Pat Boone to record in 1955 and found it in the Fats Domino hit “Ain’t That a Shame?” Except Boone, then an English major, wanted to sing “Isn’t That a Shame?” After a few run-throughs, Wood insisted, “It’s got to be ‘ain’t’,” and Boone soon had his first No. 1 single. Wood’s practice of having white singers such as Boone cover rhythm and blues hits by black artists is credited by some with helping black musicians — and early rock music — break into the commercial mainstream. Pop stations that had limited airplay mainly to white artists found room for the remakes, which helped introduce the black R&B sound to a white audience.

Wood died Saturday at his La Jolla home of complications from injuries suffered in a fall down stairs in his house, said his son John Wood. He was 94. Calling him “one of the people I owe my career to,” singer Pat Boone said Wood “picked out all my early hits.” “He was just my mentor, my angel,” Boone, who stayed with Dot Records for 13 years, told The Times in 2005.

The R&B remakes were not without controversy. Dot Records, Boone and other singers were accused of stealing music and success from the black artists.
“That’s a perversion of history,” Boone said. “The recording directors at the small R&B labels wanted to attract attention to their artists, and the covers expanded the impact of the song. Little Richard, Fats Domino and Chuck Berry were all thrilled because it made it possible for their songs to finally get heard, and Randy knew that.”

At one point in the mid-1950s, Dot had five of the top 10 hits on the Billboard charts, said Larry Welk, who is the son of the late band leader Lawrence Welk and first worked with Wood in 1960. “He was a true pioneer in the music business,” Welk said in a 2005 Times interview. “He put in effect a lot of policies in the music business that will outlive him.”


Respectfully Artie Wayne

Special thanks to Sally Stevens for helping me put this article together  http://rockphiles.typepad.com/a_life_in_the_day/2011/03/index.html

Copyright 2011 by Artie Wayne https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/

BACK TO ARTIE WAYNE ON THE WEB! https://artiewayne.wordpress.com


  1. Jack Carone Says:

    Artie, thank you for giving Mr. Wood his due!

  2. Gary Theroux Says:

    While Randy Wood did have white pop artists like Pat Boone cover R&B hits first scored by black artists, it should be remembered that black label owners often had black artists cover white hits (like The Chords’ remake of Patti Page’s “Cross Over The Bridge”). Don’t forget that Randy Wood also had Boone (and his other white artists) cover country hits – and Dot, with Count Basie, The Mills Brothers, Louis Armstrong and others was hardly an all-white label.

    Prior to the rock era, pop, country and R&B recordings rarely crossed over from one market to another. That’s why, for example, King’s Sid Nathan – who owned not only the publishing rights on country composer Hank Penny’s “Bloodshot Eyes” but also Hank’s original recording – had his R&B star Wynonie Harris cover the tune. Both versions thus became hits in their respective markets — allowing Sid, not one to let a hot song go to waste, to double the return on his investment.

    It’s true that Rick Nelson covered Fats Domino on “I’m Walkin’.” However, it’s equally true that Fats covered white country star Gene Autry’s “Blueberry Hill,” white crooner Gene Austin’s “My Blue Heaven” and white bandleader Guy Lombardo’s “When My Dreamboat Comes Home.” The Platters covered Paul Whiteman’s “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” Frances Langford’s “Harbor Lights,” The Three Suns’ “Twilight Time” and other songs first made famous by white recording stars. Remember the enormous success of Ray Charles’ all cover song LP “Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music”? Etta James’ “At Last” is a Glenn Miller cover; The Cleftones’ “Heart and Soul” is a Larry Clinton cover, James Brown’s “Prisoner of Love” is a Russ Columbo cover and the list goes on and on.

    The fact is, performers aiming music at different markets were covering each other long before Randy Wood and/or the rock era came along. In those pre rock ‘n’ roll years, SONGS often became hits — as opposed to specific RECORDINGS of those songs. It was not unusual then for several competing versions of the same song to chart simultaneously. in 1947, for example, seven different recordings of “Rumors Are Flying” all entered the Top 10. People just went out and bought whichever recording of the hot SONG had been made by their favorite artist – be it Tony Bennett, Hank Williams, Ella Fitzgerald or whomever.

    What’s truly noteworthy is which of those recordings have best stood the test of time. While few today prefer The Gladiolas’ crude original recording of “Little Darlin'” to The Diamonds’ highly polished cover, even fewer request Joey Dee’s cover version of “Shout” over the Isley Brothers’ original. Joey took the tune to #6 — while the Isleys stalled at #47. But which would YOU rather hear today?

    Sometimes the very first recording of a song is forever the best-loved. And sometimes it isn’t. What’s important is which one best speaks to and for your heart.

  3. I was on Dot Artie. Also Randy had the Randy’s Record Shop your recall. I bet he had a ton of 45’s at his store.Those Dot Records were rocking for sure! Noel Ball used to produce some for them also had a Record show. Arther Alexander was on the label at the time I was and we did some shows together along with Dale Ward , another Dot Artist…. Good times…I had Jimmy Darling, Wild Angel, Oh, My Love, Little Wishing Star… etc… most are on youtube and now I have found the collection and put it all together and offer it on hillbillyhollywood.com ….. Called Vikki Sallee … The Early 60’s Recordings…. I plan to send you one… Need to get your address once again at my home e-mail…. Love,Vikki

  4. steveo Says:

    Hey, I’m sorry to hear of the pasing of Randy Wood..
    Yes, he started his record business out of his record store in Gallatin, Tn – started doing mail order and eventually went full fledged..the building is still there, but it has been many things since Randy Moved out…I think currently it’s a mexican market…I inquired to the chamber of commerce about saving this building and making it a historical monument to Dot records and rock
    and roll in general, but I don’t think that will happen…There should be some mention or marking of
    DOt records legacy in Gallatin. Artie, thanks for writing this article on the great Randy Wood…
    R.I.P. Randy..

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