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/

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