Electra Records Jac Holzman

Electra Records Jac Holzman

Born September 15, 1931
Elektra Records Jac Holzman
Jac in younger days.

Follow the Music

Stefano Santucci, a childhood conker buddy and fellow vinyl collector, recommended that I read Follow the Music: The Life and High Times of Electra Records In The Great Years of American Pop Culture by Jac Holzman and Gavan Daws.

He said that it was “…the cat’s pajamas. Highly recommend how this guy Jac Holzman discovered and produced some of the most amazing bands and songwriters, but also found their proper producer and engineers to get their best stuff out…not only the proper sound, but also   elected the album art and logos.”

Among Boomers, a common complaint regarding today’s recordings is the size of liner notes while holding a CD or, worse, no liner notes with a download.

Album covers we could read, but today’s font sizes (did anyone even know what the word “font” meant in the 60s?) (if one actually purchases a “hard” copy of a recording and not simply downloads it) are lilliputian.

Electra Records Jac Holzman

Electra Records Jac Holzman

Jac Holzman

When I did read those covers, I always saw the name Jac Holzman on the back of my Elektra Records and gradually realized that Elektra Records was a company that could be depended upon to produce great music.

Holzman founded Elektra Records on October 10 1950 out of his St John’s College (Maryland) dorm room. (Sounds like Crawdaddy! founder Paul Williams, eh?)

Holzman had $300 bar mitzvah money, but needed $300 more.College friend and Navy vet Paul Rickholt put in his veterans bonus. To make the Elektra logo, Holzman turned two Ms on their side for the Es and used a K instead of a C. Voila.

Elektra Records Jac Holzman

Holzman was before Sam Phillips’s Memphis Studio.

Before Elvis.

Before Rocket 88. 

Before the Beatles were teenagers.

Elektra’s first album was an album of German art poems set to music by John Gruen and sung by Georgiana Bannister. Holzman left St John’s College and stepped into Greenwich Village’s nascent folk scene. He recorded Josh White (folk blues), Jean Ritchie (Appalachian folk) and Theodore Bikel (Israeli folk).

He recorded Judy Collins and Tom Paxton.

Record companies need income and Jac Holzman was creative. He could support the fledgling folk artist because he also released a series of albums aimed at branches of the military and various other groups’ interests and hobbies.

Electra Records Jac Holzman

Sound effects

According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame site: Another of Holzman’s inspirations was a series of sound effects records. The first volume was released in 1960. Numbering 13 in total, they sold well and were extremely popular with the movie industry and radio programmers. Never had such a gallery of sounds and noises, including a definitive car crash, been so painstakingly recorded. Moreover, they were highly profitable because there were no performers’ royalties involved.

Another way he subsidized his Elektra label was by creating Nonesuch records in 1963. He made classical music available by licensing titles from overseas labels and marketing the records at a lower price than American labels selling the same titles.

As the music of the 60’s evolved, so did Elektra. Acoustic folk continued to be part of the label, but electricity too.

Elektra Records Jac Holzman

The Incredible String Band. David Ackles,  Carly Simon. Harry Chapin. Bread. Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Love. The Doors. Clear Light. The MC5. The Stooges. Queen.

Electra Records Jac Holzman

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

John Densmore spoke at Jac Holzman’s March 14, 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Densmore said, “Without Jac Holzman, Jim Morrison’s lyrics would not be on the tip of the world’s tongue.”

Elektra Records Jac Holzman

Music continues to benefit from Holzman. Nowadays he is now Senior Technology Adviser to Warner Music Group as “a wide-ranging technology ‘scout’, exploring new digital developments and identifying possible partners.”

References: Rock and roll Hall of Fame bio >>> R & R H o F Derek Sivers site >>> Sivers

Electra Records Jac Holzman
Thanks for visiting

Virgil Ware Johnny Robinson

Virgil Ware Johnny Robinson

Virgil Ware
Virgil Ware Johnny Robinson
December 6, 1949 – September 15, 1963
Johnny Robinson

Virgil Ware Johnny Robinson

1947 – September 15, 1963

September 15, 1963

16th Street Baptist Church bombing

The story of the terrorist attack on the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham,  Alabama is a well-known one.

Bobby Frank Cherry, Thomas Blanton, Herman Frank Cash, and Robert Chambliss, members of United Klans of America, a Ku Klux Klan group, planted a box of dynamite with a time delay under the steps of the church near the basement. At about 10:20 that morning, twenty-six children were walking into the basement assembly room to prepare for the sermon entitled “The Love That Forgives,” when the bomb exploded.

The explosion killed four girls, Addie Mae Collins (14), Denise McNair (11), Carole Robertson (14), and Cynthia Wesley (14) and injured the other 22, one of whom was Addie Mae Collins’ younger sister, Sarah.

The explosion blew a hole in the church’s rear wall, destroyed the back steps and all but one stained-glass window, which showed Christ leading a group of little children.

It was 14 years before officials charged anyone. In 1977 Chambliss was tried and convicted of the first degree murder of McNair.

Not until 2001 was Thomas Blanton convicted and not until 2002 Bobby Cherry. Both were convicted of four counts of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Herman Cash died in 1994 and  was never charged.

Virgil Ware Johnny Robinson

Virgil Ware

The evening of that same day Virgil Ware and his 16-year-old brother, James Jr, were out on a bike. Virgil on the handlebars, James peddling.

Two white 16-year-olds, Michael Lee Farley and Larry Joe Sims were also out. They were riding a motorbike. Seeing the two boys, Farley encouraged Sims to shoot at and scare the brothers. Ware fell. The brothers did not stop.

The shots had hit Virgil Ware in the chest and face. He died there.The next day, police  confronted Sims who confessed to shooting Ware, saying he had done so accidentally, as he had fired with his eyes closed.

Authorities charged Sims and Farley with first-degree murder.At trial, a jury convicted Sims of second-degree manslaughter; Farley pled guilty to the same charge. They were both sentenced to seven months in jail, but a judge then altered the penalty, giving them two years’ probation instead.

Virgil Ware Johnny Robinson

Johnny Robinson

In the hours after the bombing, groups gathered to mourn the killings or celebrate them. 16-year-old Johnny Robinson was hanging around with a few other black teenagers near a gas station on 26th Street. White kids drove by, waving Confederate flags and throwing things out of the car windows.

Robinson and some of his friends threw rocks back. Police showed up.

Witnesses told the FBI in 1963 that Johnny was with a group of boys who threw rocks at a car draped with a Confederate flag. The rocks missed their target and hit another vehicle instead. That’s when a police car arrived.

Robinson ran. Officer Jack Parker, sitting in the back of a police car with a shotgun, shot at the running Robinson, hit him in the back, and killed him.  Police said that their car’s sudden stop caused Parker’s gun to go off or that the car had hit a bump causing the discharge. Witnesses say they no warnings and two shots.

Parker was a member of the  Fraternal Order of Police lodge. That fall he signed an ad in the newspaper arguing against integration of the police force. He died in 1977.

In 1963, the grand jury that tried Parker, refused to indict him.  A federal grand jury decided the same thing in 1964.

Virgil Ware Johnny Robinson
Thanks for visiting