Hover over each image for information about each individual label.Paramount Records
The legendary Paramount Records was founded by the Wisconsin Chair Company of Port Washington, Wisconsin in 1918. The company had previously manufactured phonographs under their own marquee as well as cabinets for Edison machines. For this new line of phonograph records, the Wisconsin Chair Company started a subsidiary called the New York Recording Laboratories (or NYRL), Originally releasing run-of-the-mill popular and dance music of the day on vertically cut, and later lateral records, the race records that made the company famous today got their start in 1922, when Paramount bought the assets of the failed Black Swan label, who was previously contracted the NYRL to press their records.
With J. Mayo "Ink" Williams bringing new talent, they began their new race series with recordings from artists such as Alberta Hunter, Sissle and Blake, and Lucille Hegamin. With their popular race records, Paramount's popular series faded away, leaving the race series as the primary product of the company. Paramount's records began to feature now legendary blues musicians such as Ma Rainey, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and later Charley Patton.
When the Great Depression hit, many consumers were unable to afford such extravagances as records, and the industry took a heavy blow, and Paramount was no exception. In 1932, Paramount Records stopped recording, and shut down completely in 1935. As legend has it, when Paramount closed, some disgruntled former employees threw many of the metal masters into the Milwaukee River, and many were sold as scrap metal. However, Paramount's story does not end there, as in 1948, collector and record collector and producer John Steiner purchased their remaining assets from the Wisconsin Chair Company and revived the label, reissuing many Paramount recordings, as well some others.
Broadway records was founded in 1921 the Bridgeport Die and Machine Company (BD&M), which was bought out by Paramount after their failure in 1924. When Paramount focused their flagship label on race records, Broadway released mostly popular and country music leased from other companies such as Plaza, Emerson, ARC, and Crown, at different times in their existence. The Broadway label outlived Paramount, made in the early 1930s by the ARC, and later by Decca.
Puritan, which operated from 1917 to 1929, predating Paramount, released primarily popular music using masters from Paramount and Plaza, some were pressed by the Bridgeport Die & Machine Company.
All images on this page created by R. Connor Montgomery, please do not reproduce without permission.