SOLAR Records

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SOLAR Records
Solarlogo.jpg
Parent companySoul Train, Inc.
Founded1977
FounderDick Griffey, Don Cornelius, Leon Sylvers and Gary Silverman
Statusinactive/defunct
Distributor(s)RCA Records (1977 - 1981)
Elektra Records (1981 - 1987)
Capitol Records (1987 - 1989)
CBS Records (1989 - 1995)
GenreSoul
Funk
Disco
Post-disco
R&B
Country of originUnited States
LocationLos Angeles, California
 
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SOLAR Records
Solarlogo.jpg
Parent companySoul Train, Inc.
Founded1977
FounderDick Griffey, Don Cornelius, Leon Sylvers and Gary Silverman
Statusinactive/defunct
Distributor(s)RCA Records (1977 - 1981)
Elektra Records (1981 - 1987)
Capitol Records (1987 - 1989)
CBS Records (1989 - 1995)
GenreSoul
Funk
Disco
Post-disco
R&B
Country of originUnited States
LocationLos Angeles, California

S.O.L.A.R. Records (acronym for Sound of Los Angeles Records) was an American record label founded in 1977 by Dick Griffey, reconstituted out of Soul Train Records only two years after it was founded with Soul Train television show host and creator Don Cornelius.

Contents

History

In 1975, Soul Train Records was founded by Dick Griffey, Don Cornelius, Leon Sylvers and producer Gary Silverman and Soul Train television show host and creator Don Cornelius. Griffey formed a collective called Shalamar—using a host of session singers to record "Uptown Festival," which was a disco-length medley of early Motown hits. After scoring a hit with the recording, he looked to Cornelius to help him put together an actual group to maintain the impact. In 1977, Soul Train dancers Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel and singer Gerald Brown (who was eventually replaced by Howard Hewett) were recruited to form the new Shalamar, which would become the fledgling label's centerpiece. Cornelius decided (amicably) to shut down Soul Train Records as Cornelius wanted to focus his energies on the television show, which was a monster hit and required his full attention to keep it so. With legalities now taken care of, Griffey reorganized Soul Train Records into the newly founded SOLAR label in late 1977. Griffey and Cornelius remained good friends, and as a result, SOLAR maintained close ties to the Soul Train show.

Shalamar became one of the label's best selling and most influential acts; scoring nearly 20 hit singles and classics such as: "Right in the Socket", "The Second Time Around", "Make That Move", "A Night to Remember (Get Ready Tonight)" and "This Is For The Lover In You". SOLAR's signature act above all was The Whispers, whose distinct harmonies and carefully detailed musical and vocal arrangements defined and emphasized the "SOLAR sound". The Whispers, who began in 1964, were famous for being Soul Train/SOLAR artists, as all of their biggest hits came from the label, including "And The Beat Goes On", "It's A Love Thing", "Chocolate Girl", "Lady", and "Rock Steady" among others. Not only did Mr. Griffey have the eye to spot creative talent, he was also masterful at hiring executive talent. Starting with him were his General Manager Clyde Wasson; assistant and National Promotion rep Cheryle Appling and his A & R, Publishing and Production Director Dina Ruth Andrews. Later somewhere around 1981 Edna Collison joined the team as the National Pop Promotion Rep.

Success

The SOLAR success story was by no means confined to these two acts, as the label was also known for several others who enjoyed success, including: Dynasty, Lakeside, Midnight Star, Klymaxx, Calloway, Carrie Lucas, Collage and the The Deele — which introduced singer/songwriter/producer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and future music executive Antonio "L.A." Reid. Griffey had always believed in giving new talents the opportunity to create and develop their craft, and he was introduced to songwriters/producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis by his A & R rep Dina Ruth Andrews who was the teams first manager, Reggie and Vincent Calloway, and Leon F. Sylvers III. The "SOLAR sound" was a collective effort, with artists working on each other's sessions and artists encouraged to be creative. Sylvers who became SOLAR's house producer in 1978. His signature basslines and productions helped mould the hit sound of SOLAR, which is funky, progressive dance music infused with soul and disco.

From 1977 to 1981, SOLAR was distributed through RCA Records as it was ever since it was Soul Train Records two years prior. Constellation Records (which has no relation to the Chicago-based indie label founded by Ewart Abner), which opened in 1981, was an attempt to introduce more contemporary acts to Griffey's more traditionally "urban" establishment and was already being distributed through Elektra/Asylum Records, making it only natural for the main SOLAR label to jump ship to Elektra for distribution when it left RCA.

SOLAR's relationship with Elektra/Asylum, like its relationship with RCA, lasted for six years (from 1981 to 1987). During this period, SOLAR changed their logo and classic label design to complement not only its Constellation imprint, but also to reflect a uniform look of sorts for the logos of labels owned by or affiliated with Elektra. Ironically enough, Dick Griffey moved the Constellation label over to MCA Records for distribution in 1984, deciding now to abandon contemporary music and this time continue the SOLAR tradition, which, in turn, was a move that finally brought recognition to the label (which now became a "boutique label" of sorts for MCA).

Veteran Soul Train/SOLAR first lady Carrie Lucas (who eventually married Griffey) and then up-and-coming act Klymaxx were shifted to the Constellation label, and as a result, Klymaxx finally scored hits for themselves and the label, including "The Men All Pause", "I Miss You" and "Meeting In The Ladies Room". Constellation was folded into MCA in 1986, when the artists, including Klymaxx, were transferred to MCA. Universal Music Group owned all of the post-1984 Constellation back catalog, until it was purchased by Unidisc Music in 2009.

Decline

In 1987, Solar ended their relationship with Elektra and ventured with Capitol Records from 1987 to 1989, returning to their classic label design. At this period of time, however, the label began to see its fortunes decline. Contributing to this were A&R problems with Shalamar—primarily, maintaining the group's identity and momentum as former members Hewett and Watley had departed and were having successful solo careers on other labels (MCA for Watley and Elektra for Hewett), not to mention plus the shifting musical directions of R&B, dance and popular music in general in the late '80s and early 1990s.

SOLAR's twilight years came in 1989 when it inked a distribution deal with CBS Records, which at this time was now owned by Sony Corporation. In 1991, the label released its last recording Now by Richie Havens. Following its decline, SOLAR closed its doors in 1995. The label's back catalog, which includes the pre-1984 Constellation back catalog, were eventually purchased by EMI, with many of its releases and compilations being re-issued through The Right Stuff Records. In 2009, Unidisc Music purchased SOLAR's back catalog.

Artists

See also

References

External links