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Jac Holzman and Elektra Records

13 Jul 07 - 05:19 PM (#2101946)
Subject: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: Joe Offer

I keep discovering record albums from the 1960s that I'd like ot have, and most of them seem to come from Elektra Records, which is now part of the Warner Records Group. Warner and Warner label Rhino have reissued some of the Elektra recordings, and some have come out on the Collectors' Choice label.

I came across an fascinating Website named http://www.recordcollectorsguild.org, and it has a great section on Elektra Records. Here's an excerpt:
    Elektra Records was founded in October 1950 in Annapolis, Maryland, by Jac Holzman, at the time a student at St. John's College, with $300 of his own and a matching $300 from classmate Paul Rickolt. Initial recordings were of soprano Georgianna Bannister singing poems of Rilke, e. e. cummings and Hölderlin set to music by John Gruen, and a couple of 78-rpm recordings by fellow student Glenn Yarbrough.

    Over the years, this boutique label set the standard for breaking new ground in the worldwide music scene. Elektra was one of the primary forces in folk music in the 1960s, virtually inventing the artist-driven environment that fueled the Southern California rock boom a decade later. Elektra was also one of the first Warner Music Group labels to "go global" with such border-crossing successes as Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell. Elektra's impressive legacy also includes renowned artists such as The Doors, Linda Ronstadt, and Jackson Browne.

This discography (click) seems to be very comprehensive. I wonder if it's missing anything.
This page from the discography really made me drool, but there are many other Elektra recordings I'd like to have. I wonder how many will be made available in the future. I'd like to see all of them, but the one I'd like most of all to see on CD is the one by my hero Sandy Paton. I wonder if there's any chance....
Can anybody give us information about Jac Holzman and Elektra? How'd they come to be associated with Warner? What's the prospect for more reissues?

13 Jul 07 - 05:23 PM (#2101948)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: Joe Offer

I'm going to copy-paste the U.S. Mono Album Discography from recordcollectorsguild.com so you can get an idea what was on the label. I'de be surprised if ten percent of this has been reissued.

  • EKLP-1   Georgianna Bannister (soprano)   New Songs by John Gruen (Mar 1951)
    = Recorded Dec 1950

Label Type L2: "script" Σlektra tilted : label color = blue (EKLP-2); red (EKLP-3, EKLP-4); or black (EKLP-5, EKLP-6); deep groove label

  • EKLP-2   Jean Ritchie   Singing the Traditional Songs of Her Kentucky Mountain Family (1952)
  • EKLP-3   Frank Warner   American Traditional Songs (1952)
  • EKLP-4   Shep Ginandes   British Traditional Ballads (1952)
    Cover I: black-and-white drawing of string instruments by Ritiro
    Cover II: color wash of troubadour and castle by William S. Harvey
  • EKLP-5   field recordings by Maya Deren   Voices of Haiti (1953)
  • EKLP-6   Cynthia Gooding   Turkish and Spanish Folk Songs (1954)

Label Type L2: white/print, "script" Σlektra tilted : print = red, green, blue or brown; deep groove label

  • EKL-2   Jean Ritchie   Singing the Traditional Songs of Her Kentucky Mountain Family (1952)
  • EKL-3   Frank Warner   American Traditional Songs (1952)
  • EKL-4   Shep Ginandes   British Traditional Ballads (1952)
  • EKL-5   field recordings by Maya Deren   Voices of Haiti (1953)
  • EKL-6   Cynthia Gooding   Turkish and Spanish Folk Songs (1954)
  • EKL-7   Shep Ginandes   There Was a Little Tree - American Folk Songs for Children (195-)
  • EKL-8   Cynthia Gooding   Mexican Folk Songs (195-)
  • EKL-9   Shep Ginandes   French Traditional Songs (195-)
  • EKL-10   Hally Wood   O Lovely Appearance of Death - American Songs of Sadness and Melancholy (195-)
  • EKL-11   Cynthia Gooding   Queen of Hearts - English Folk Songs (195-)
    Cover I: sketch of a girl running through a glade, in red and blue colors
    Cover II: "playing card" cover
  • EKL-12   Tom Paley   Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians (195-)
  • EKL-13   Frank Warner   Songs of America's Wars (195-)
  • EKL-14   Sonny Terry with Alec Stewart   Folk Blues (1954)
  • EKL-15   Sonny Terry with Alec Stewart   City Blues (1954)
  • EKL-16   Oscar Brand, Ed McCurdy, Jack Elliott   Badmen and Heroes (1954)
  • EKL-17   Cynthia Gooding   Italian Folk Songs (1954)
  • EKL-18   Dick Wilder   Pirate Songs (1954)
  • EKL-19   Gordon Heath and Lee Payant   Songs from the Abbaye (1954)
  • EKL-20   Hillel Raveh   Russian Folk Songs (1954)
  • EKL-21   Alan Arkin   Folk Songs (and 2½ That Aren't) Once Over Lightly (1954)
  • EKL-22   Oscar Brand & Jean Ritchie   Courtin's a Pleasure (1954)
  • EKL-23   field recordings by Diane Hamilton   Nova Scotia Folk Music from Cape Breton (1954)
  • EKL-24   Ed McCurdy   Sin Songs Pro & Con (1954)
  • EKL-25   Jean Ritchie   Kentucky Mountain Songs (1954)
  • EKL-26   Susan Reed   Old Airs from England, Scotland and Ireland (1954)
  • EKL-27   Clarence Cooper   Goin' Down The Road (1954)
  • EKL-28   Jim Fawcett   Flamenco Guitar Solos (1954)
  • EKL-29   Gordon Heath and Lee Payant   Encores from the Abbaye (1955)
  • EKL-30   Jean Léon Destiné & Ensemble   Festival in Haiti (1955)
  • EKL-31   Yves Tessier, tenor ; Mildred Clary, lute   Troubadour Songs from the 12th and 13th Centuries (1955)
  • EKL-32   Theodore Bikel   Folk Songs of Israel (1955)
    "2nd pressing" on Label L3 white/green
  • EKL-33   no issue
  • EKL-34   no issue
  • EKL-35   [test recording]   Elektra System Playback Calibration (1956)
    "1st pressing" on Label L2 white/red and white/blue
    "2nd pressing" on Label L3 white/red and white/blue
  • EKL-701   Josh White   The Story of John Henry / Blues and Ballads (2-LP) (1954)
  • FMS-1   various artists/sampler   Folk Music Sampler (1954)

12-inch:   EKL = mono   EKS = stereo
Label Type L2: white/print, "script" Σlektra tilted : print = red, green, blue or brown; deep groove label

  • EKL-102   Josh White   Josh at Midnight (1956)
  • EKL-103   Los Gitanillos de Cadiz   Songs and Dances of Andalucia (1956)
    Cover I: Color sketch of dancers
    Cover II: Color photo of dancers
  • EKL-104   Suzanne Robert   Songs of Montmartre (1956)
  • EKL-105   Theodore Bikel   An Actor's Holiday (1956)
    Cover I: "Vespa cover" with background map of Europe
    Cover II: Portrait photo of Bikel
  • EKL-106   Stephen Kovács   The Unabashed Virtuoso (1956)
  • EKL-107   Cynthia Gooding   Faithful Lovers and Other Phenomena (1956)
  • EKL-108   Ed McCurdy   Blood, Booze 'n' Bones (1956)
  • EKL-109   Theodore Bikel and Cynthia Gooding   A Young Man And A Maid Folk Songs of Many Lands (1956)
    Cover I: Sketch of man and woman embracing
  • EKL-110   Ed McCurdy   When Dalliance Was In Flower and Maidens Lost Their Heads (1956)
    Cover I: Line drawing
  • EKL-111   Stephen Kovács   Tiger On The Keys (1956)

Label Type L3: white/print, "atom" design : print = red, green, blue or brown, with a central horizontal line in the print color; deep groove label.
The print is black for "Promotion Copy" labels (blue for EKL-180). Promo copies are known to exist for EKL-138, EKL-167 and EKL-180.

  • EKL-109   Theodore Bikel and Cynthia Gooding   A Young Man And A Maid Folk Songs of Many Lands (1956)
    Cover II: Nude photo
  • EKL-110   Ed McCurdy   When Dalliance Was In Flower and Maidens Lost Their Heads (1956)
    Cover II: Photo
  • EKL-112   Ed McCurdy   Songs of the Old West (1956)
  • EKL-113   Norene Tate   Tenderly sung by Norene Tate (1958)
  • EKL-114   Josh White   Josh ~ Ballads and Blues (1957)
  • EKL-115   New York Jazz Quartet   New York Jazz Quartet (1957)
    Cover I: White background, with individual photos of players
  • EKL-116   Susan Reed   Susan Reed (1957)
  • EKL-117   Sabicas   The Greatest Flamenco Guitarist (1957)
    Cover I: monochrome portrait of Sabicas with 'blurred hands'
  • EKL-118   New York Jazz Quartet   Goes Native (1957)
  • EKL-119   Gordon Heath & Lee Payant   Evening at L'Abbaye (1957)
    = 12" reissue of EKL-19 and EKL-29
  • EKL-120   The Jazz Messengers   A Midnight Session (1957)
  • EKL-121   Sabicas   The Greatest Flamenco Guitarist Volume II (1957)
    Cover I: monochrome portrait of Sabicas with 'blurred hands'
  • EKL-122   Oscar Brand and Jean Ritchie / Tom Paley   Courtin's A Pleasure (1957)
    = 12" reissue of EKL-22 and EKL-12
  • EKL-123   Josh White   25th Anniversary Album (1957)
    =12" reissue of EKL-701
  • EKL-124   Ed McCurdy   Sin Songs Pro & Con (1957)
    =12" reissue of EKL-24
  • EKL-125   Jean Ritchie   Jean Ritchie (1957)
    = 12" reissue of EKL-2 and EKL-25
  • EKL-126   Susan Reed   Old Airs From Ireland, Scotland and England (1957)
    = 12" reissue of EKL-26
  • EKL-127   Lord Foodoos   Calypso! (1957)
    Cover I: color photo of drums
    Cover II: drawing of dancer; retitled "Mr. Calypso"
  • EKL-128   Cynthia Gooding   Spanish and Mexican Folk Songs (1957)
    = 12" reissue of EKL-6 and EKL-8
  • EKL-129   Oscar Brand/Ed McCurdy/Jack Elliott/Dick Wilder   Badmen/Pirate Songs (1957)
    = 12" reissue of EKL-16 and EKL-18
  • EKL-130   Jean Léon Destiné & ensemble   (1957)
    = 12" reissue of EKL-30
  • EKL-131   Cynthia Gooding   Queen Of Hearts (1957)
    = 12" reissue of EKL-11
  • EKL-132   Theodore Bikel   Songs of Israel (1957)
    = 12" reissue of EKL-32
  • EKL-133   Shep Ginandes   Shep Ginandes Sings Folk Songs (1957)
  • EKL-134   Mat Mathews, Julius Watkins, David Amram et al   4 French Horns Plus Rhythm (1957)
  • EKL-135   Glenn Yarbrough   Here We Go Baby (1957)
    Cover I: color photo of amusement park ride
    Cover II: monochrome portrait of Yarbrough; retitled "Glenn Yarbrough"
  • EKL-136   Teddy Charles   Vibe-rant (1957)
  • EKL-137   Tom Kines   Of Maids and Mistresses (1957)
  • EKL-138   The Delta Rhythm Boys   The Delta Rhythm Boys (1957)
  • EKL-139   Original Trinidad Steel Band   Original Trinidad Steel Band (1957)
  • EKL-140   Ed McCurdy   When Dalliance Was In Flower and Maidens Lost Their Heads Volume 2 (1957)
    Cover I: blue background
    Cover II: black background
  • EKL-141   Theodore Bikel   Theodore Bikel Sings Jewish Folk Songs (1958)
  • EKL-142   The Shanty Boys   The Shanty Boys (1958)
  • EKL-143   Marilyn Child & Glenn Yarbrough   Marilyn Child & Glenn Yarbrough Sing Folk Songs (1958)
  • EKL-144   Gene & Francesca   Gene & Francesca (1958)
  • EKL-145   Sabicas   The Greatest Flamenco Guitarist Volume III (1958)
  • EKL-146   The Oranim Zabar Israeli Troupe   Shalom! (1958)
  • EKL-147   Paul Clayton   Unholy Matrimony (1958)
  • EKL-148   Sandy Paton   Sandy Paton (1958)
  • EKL-149   Sabicas with Los Trianeros   Festival Gitana (1958)
  • EKL-150   Theodore Bikel   Songs Of A Russian Gypsy (1958)
    Cover I: blond girl is on the left
    Cover II: blond girl is on the right
  • EKL-151   various artists   Our Singing Heritage, Vol I (1958)
  • EKL-152   various artists   Our Singing Heritage, Vol II (1958)
    (Release is doubtful)
  • EKL-153   Frank Warner   Our Singing Heritage, Vol III (1958)
  • EKL-154   Erik Darling   Erik Darling (1958)
  • EKL-155   Paul Clayton   Bobby Burns' Merry Muses (1958)
  • EKL-156   The Oranim Zabar Israeli Troupe   On the Road to Elath (1958)
  • EKL-157   The Folk Singers   Run Come Hear (1958)
  • EKL-158   Josh White   Chain Gang Songs (1958)
  • EKL-159   Cuadro Flamenco   Cuadro Flamenco (1959)
  • EKL-160   Ed McCurdy   When Dalliance Was in Flower Vol III (1959)
  • EKL-161   Theodore Bikel & Geula Gill   Folk Songs From Just About Everywhere (1959)
    Cover I: black background
    Cover II: white background
  • EKL-162   The Randolph Singers   The Catch Club (1959)
    = mono re-release of EKL-204-X
  • EKL-163   Susan Reed   Songs for the Wee Folk (1959)
  • EKL-164   Gene and Francesca   Love and War Between the Sexes (1959)
  • EKL-165   Theodore Bikel   Theodore Bikel Sings More Jewish Folk Songs (1959)
  • EKL-166   The Oranim Zabar Israeli Troupe   Around The Campfire (1959)
  • EKL-167   Saka Acquaye & His African Ensemble   Gold Coast Saturday Night (1959)
    = Reissued as Crestview CRV-805 Drum Fever
  • EKL-168   Oscar Brand with The Roger Wilco Four   The Wild Blue Yonder (1959)
  • EKL-169   Oscar Brand   Every Inch A Sailor (1959)
  • EKL-170   Ed McCurdy   Son of Dalliance (1959)
  • EKL-171   Hillel & Aviva   A Concert with Hillel & Aviva (1959)
  • EKL-172   Jean Shepherd   Jean Shepherd & other foibles (1959)
  • EKL-173   Ron & Nama   Donkey Debka! (1959)
  • EKL-174   Oscar Brand   Tell It to the Marines (1959)
    Cover I: Drill instructor wears a service cap
    Cover I: Drill instructor wears a drill instructor's cap (brimmed)
  • EKL-175   Theodore Bikel   Bravo Bikel! (1959)
  • EKL-176   Shel Silverstein And The Red Onions   Hairy Jazz (1959)
    = Reissued as Crestview CRV-804 Shel Silverstein's Stag Party - The Wildest Bash On Record
  • EKL-177   Bob Gibson   Ski Songs (1959)
  • EKL-178   Oscar Brand   Out of the Blue (1959)
  • EKL-179   Anita Ellis   The World in My Arms (1959)
  • EKL-180   The Limeliters   The Limeliters (1959)
  • EKL-181   Will Holt   The Exciting Artistry of Will Holt (1959)
  • EKL-182   Seafarer's Chorus   We Sing of the Sea (1960)
  • EKL-183   Oscar Brand & The Sea Wolves   Boating Songs & All That Bilge (1960)
  • EKL-184   Joyce Grenfell   Presenting Joyce Grenfell (1960)

Label Type L5: gray, with guitar player logo in red circle and yellow radiating lines; 1960 copyright date in rimprint

  • EKL-115   New York Jazz Ensemble   Adam's Theme (1960)
    Cover II: Retitled, with blurred color photo of of nude 'Eve' and serpent
  • EKL-185   Theodore Bikel   Songs Of A Russian Gypsy (1960)
  • EKL-186   Oranim Zabar Israeli Troupe   Hora (1960)
  • EKL-187   Ron & Nama   Sabra - The Heart of Young Israel (1960)
  • EKL-188   Oscar Brand   Sports Car Songs (1960)
  • EKL-189   Oscar Brand/Theodore Bikel/Will Holt/   Newport Folk Festival 1960 (1960)
  • EKL-190   Zacherley   Spook Along with Zacherley (1960)
    = Reissued: Crestview CRV-803 Zacherle's Monster Gallery
  • EKL-191   The MacPherson Singers & Dancers of Scotland   Caledonia! (1960)
    = Reissued: Nonesuch International Series H 2006
  • EKL-192   Casey Anderson   Goin' Places (1960)
  • EKL-193   Josh White   Spirituals & Blues (1960)
  • EKL-194   Sasha Polinoff   Balalaika! (1960)
  • EKL-195   Jean Shepherd   Will Failure Spoil Jean Shepherd? (1960)
  • EKL-196   Ben & Adam   The Dudaim (1960)
  • EKL-197   Bob Gibson   Yes I See (1960)
  • EKL-198   Oscar Brand   Up In The Air (1960)
  • EKL-199   Peter Myers & Ronnie Cass   Go to Blazes! (1960)
  • EKL-200   Theodore Bikel   From Bondage to Freedom (1960)
  • EKL-201   Oranim Zabar Israeli Troupe   Town Hall Concert (1960)
  • EKL-202   Los Chiriguanos   The Sound of Paraguay (1960)
  • EKL-203   Josh White   The House I Live In (1960)
  • EKL-204   Oscar Brand   For Doctors Only (1960)

13 Jul 07 - 06:04 PM (#2101981)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: PoppaGator

There was a time when the release of ANYTHING on the Elektra label was something I would be interested in hearing, if not buying. The label made the move from strictly-folk to folk-rock at the same time that I did, coincidentally or not. If I'm not mistaken, Elektra's first "electric" act was the great Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

I didn't know that Jac Holtzman ~ as well as Glenn Yarbrough!~ came out of St. John's College in Annapolis. That's a unique and very interesting school, where everyone takes the same "Great Books"-based interdisciplinary course of study. No one "majors" in any specialty; every graduate has the same general-liberal-arts-and-sciences education.

13 Jul 07 - 06:08 PM (#2101983)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: Don Firth

Fascinating book!

Follow the Music, by Jac Holtzman and Gavin Daws.

Highly recommended. Great anecdotes, lotsa pictures, and an extensive discography.

Don Firth

13 Jul 07 - 09:26 PM (#2102095)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: johnross

Seconding Don's recommendtion of Follow the Music .

Regarding the St. John's College connection, I can offer a couple of stories:

Until very recently, the only copy of the first Elektra release I had ever seen was in the St. John's College record library. It's an extremely rare LP. It was gone the last time I looked for it at St. John's -- I suspect they sold it with the rest of their LPs for fifty cents. After about 40 years of searching, I finally found a copy of the record this year in a catalog at a bargain price. When it arrived, it turned out that it had been Cynthia Gooding's copy.

Bob Sacks, the St. John's classmate who first introduced Holzman to folk music later taught at St. John's. When I was a student there, he was my Sophomore mathematics tutor. This was the height of the Folk Scare, but we had no idea that Mr. Sacks had that connection.

When St. John's built their second campus in Santa Fe, Jac donated the money for the music and art building, and also gave the college his papers from the early days of Elektra. I once discovered a program from a Carniege Hall Hootenanny with a page introducing Phil Ochs as a promising young singer-songwriter. There was a handwritten note across the page that says,"Paul: Sign him to an exclusive contract. --j" This was sitting on an open shelf in the library!. I showed it to the music librarian, who was visibly shocked to discover that they had such a thing and locked it away in the rare books room.

The Record Collectors Guild squib is wrong about Joni Mitchell -- her first LP was on Reprise, not Elektra.

13 Jul 07 - 10:15 PM (#2102126)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: Charley Noble


Never really thought about who was behind this "folk" label.

Charley Noble

14 Jul 07 - 07:15 PM (#2102773)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)

EKLP 2 was Elektra's first folksong album, and it was my first album. We were neighbors in Greenwich Village, Jac having his tiny storefront office just round the corner from us (George and I lived in one of the two thirdfloor apartments at 88 7th Ave. South, with the roof just above as our "patio." An older friend of ours, Ed Canby, had introduced us, and Jac really loved the old Appalachian ballads from my family. He recorded most of the songs in Ed's little third-floor apartment (so full of books and record albums that the floor would sway when one walked across it, and the landlord made him move out soon after we did our recordings, for fear the floor would fall in)! George and I left for England in the fall of 1952, on my Fulbright year. Subject: To trace the sources of Ritchie Family songs." Jac sent the first album to us just before Christmas- what an exciting gift! Jac and Paul lived in our apartment while we were away.

Through us, Jac met Frank Warner, Cynthia Gooding, and others of our friends, and recorded them. George did the Elektra logo that was used for many years, and the photographs for most of the early recordings. Those were the days, my friend!      JR

03 Oct 07 - 12:37 AM (#2162523)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: GUEST,Pat Gillespie

Joe Offer wrote: This discography (click) seems to be very comprehensive. I wonder if it's missing anything.

This is Andy Finney's compilation, a "completer" version of the discography he compiled for Jac's Follow The Music, but still incomplete by the publishing deadline. About the only Elektra issues not included are the singles, and the shortlived Checkmate classical series.

I am the one mostly responsible for most of the discographical content on the Record Collectors Guild wiki which was copied+pasted above. I haven't finished it yet (obviously), and the editorial content could stand some revision. As with Andy Finney's discography, the listings are based on the records themselves as much as possible.

AFAIK the Sandy Paton LP has not been reissued on CD, though if Collector's Choice perceives a market (as it has with a couple of the Cynthia Gooding albums) no doubt it will some day.

09 Apr 10 - 03:37 AM (#2882628)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: Joe Offer

Today I found the Sandy Paton LP was available on Spotify and as an MP3 download at http://amazonUK.mudcat.org - and I suppose it's available at other UK MP3 outlets - but it's not available in the US.
I checked a few other Elektra artists from the list above, and I found that much of their work was available on Spotify - but not in the US.


09 Apr 10 - 09:30 AM (#2882811)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: GUEST,999

Jac started out with $50 and a tape recorder. He went on to create one of the more respected labels in music. He was also a very nice guy.

09 Apr 10 - 10:17 AM (#2882854)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: Lonesome EJ

Joe, several years back Jac made some comments on one of the Mudcat threads, and I wish I could remember what the name of the thread was.

09 Apr 10 - 12:35 PM (#2882934)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: open mike

I, too, would recommend this book. it has a disc in it with lots of songs. Some of the Elektra (and maybe chrysalis?) recordings were
done at Paxton Lodge, just up the canyon from me. (Jackson Brown, et al)

09 Apr 10 - 02:47 PM (#2883022)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: Joe Offer

That was an Andy Griffith Show thread he posted to, Ernie. Wish he would have posted more than just the two times.


09 Apr 10 - 04:35 PM (#2883119)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: GUEST,open mike

wikimapia.org/10636363/Paxton-Lodge-late-60-s-music-commune might have some info about the history of Jackson Browne and others who recorded there...

25 Jul 10 - 05:15 PM (#2952053)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: GUEST,robert

I havea promotional copy of Casey Anderson / Goin Places ekl-192

25 Jul 10 - 10:39 PM (#2952196)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: open mike

more about Jac Holzman here:

an interview here:

npr radio story here: (Terry Gross interview on Fresh Air)

08 Oct 10 - 01:17 PM (#3002637)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: Rain Dog

Had a quick search but could not find a mention of this programme

It is a repeat of a documentary series that was originally broadcast in 2008 as 6 30 minutes shows. It is being repeated as 3 60 minute shows

The first one is available on the BBC iplayer for a further 4 days

Jac Holzman's Elektra Story

Paul Gambaccini presents a three-part series charting the history of Elektra Records, 60 years after it was founded by Jac Holzman (10 October 1950).

Primarily a New York folk label, with influential singers Judy Collins, Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton, the company explored new avenues from the mid-60s when Jac signed West Coast artists Love, Tim Buckley and the Doors. Further chart success came from the development of artists such as Bread, Carly Simon and Harry Chapin.

The series features interviews with Jac Holzman and many of his artists: Theodore Bikel, Oscar Brand, Judy Collins, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore (The Doors), David Gates (Bread), Tom Paxton, Joshua Rifkin, Jean Ritchie, Tom Rush and Carly Simon; plus Elektra executives Danny Fields and Clive Selwood, engineer/producer Bruce Botnick and sessionman at the time John Sebastian.

In part one, Jac Holzman and Elektra artists recall the early years of his label. Canadian Oscar Brand remembers his boisterous albums of songs associated with the armed services; Kentucky singer Jean Ritchie recalls her earliest recordings released by the label; and Theodore Bikel talks about his many Elektra concept albums devoted to songs from a variety of different countries and cultures. Carly Simon remembers Theo's albums with affection and sings snippets from his multi-lingual repertoire.

After ten years of modest success, in the first half of the 60s Elektra found itself well-placed in New York's Greenwich Village to record singers emerging in a period of unprecedented enthusiasm for folk music. Jac discovered his first star of the decade when he signed Judy Collins in 1962.

Judy was joined on Elektra by many of the new generation of young folk singers - the prolific writer Tom Paxton, protest singer Phil Ochs and, from the Cambridge scene, Tom Rush. Hanging out in Greenwich Village and playing mouth organ on many Elektra record sessions was future Lovin' Spoonful member John Sebastian. And Jac Holzman found an ally in his quest for quality artists when he employed Paul Rothchild as talent scout and record producer.

This series first broadcast in six parts, back in 2008.

23 Nov 11 - 05:28 PM (#3262326)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: Joe Offer

I'm wondering which of the Elektra folk records have been reissued. Anybody want to research that?

Deckman told me today about an Alan Arkin solo album on Elektra called Folksongs - Once Over Lightly, and I started to drool. The list of Elektra folk albums is tantalizing.


23 Nov 11 - 06:34 PM (#3262358)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: GUEST,999

Jac started out with $50 and a tape recorder. He built one of the best labels ever with the studio help of Paul. They were both incredible people and pros at what they did.

16 Dec 11 - 12:14 AM (#3274586)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: Stilly River Sage

All roads lead to Mudcat. This evening I pulled my Dad's cassette tape copy of an album Bad Men, Heroes and Pirate Songs ELK-129 and started trying to track down an original recording. This one has pops and crackles. I got to Joe's thread about Elektra and was able to connect the dots for this album. And I ordered the book Don recommends (it is frighteningly easy to order through Bookfinder.com, especially if you've used the Google checkout and it kept your credit card info. Click and it's yours!)

I think he recorded borrowed albums from people he knew or that he got through the library where he was a reference librarian. This was in the interest of learning the songs and having access to different versions. (Seattle's Susy McAleer died last month - she and Dad - John Dwyer (1921-1997) - were partners in crime when it came to learning various versions of songs, of trying to find the earliest versions they could.)

I have (apparently) many cassette copies of Elektra albums that Dad couldn't buy, and I'd like to track some of them down, to have the actual albums instead of copies. I'll start checking the various online sites. I know how to find used books - and it seems to me that some of them have used LPs also. Where do some of you start your search to find really old albums like this?


16 Dec 11 - 06:03 AM (#3274678)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: Deckman

Maggie ... I just gave my record collection to the U.W. media services library. But first I made some copies of the "special ones" for myself. I also gave a few treasures away to some collectors that I know will value them. bob(deckman)nelson

16 Dec 11 - 11:13 AM (#3274831)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: Stilly River Sage

Bob, I have a lot of tapes here that Dad made of Elektra albums, but as for his 10" LPs, there are more Folkway than anything else. I haven't compared the 12" ones yet. You may recall that I had trouble keeping all of those together - the last box contained those I thought I could most easily replace. Congratulations on all of your good hard work. I'm only getting started on this. Finally . . .


16 Dec 11 - 11:52 AM (#3274854)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: pdq

I understand that Jac Holtzman decided to start a record company to give his college buddy Glenn Yarbrough a chance to be heard by the rest of the world.

Even though a few 78s were issued at the very beginning of Elektra, the first LP by Glenn Yarbrough was not done until 1957. A second LP with Marilyn Child and Yarbrough followed in 1958 and the first Limeliters record in 1959.

The 1957 solo LP is called "Here We Go Baby", the title song was a minor AM hit.

That record was recently issued on CD and shows Yarbrough as a "real pro" even then. The CD fidelity is a bit dodgy, in my opinion, but the set shows his traditional folk roots pretty well.

21 Dec 11 - 09:21 AM (#3277669)
Subject: RE: Jac Holzman and Elektra Records
From: Stilly River Sage

That was quick! The book arrived yesterday; a bit injured (top of the spine bruised), but the dust jacket is now sheathed in mylar and this is with the rest of the music resources.