Monument Records

Monument Records is an American independent record label that was founded in 1958 in Baltimore and big hits made ​​famous by Roy Orbison.

Start-up phase

The founder of the label Fred Luther Foster left his job as a sales manager of the plate Wholesale J & F Wholesale Record Distributors, Baltimore, in January 1958. His savings of $ 1,200 he used for the establishment of the independent record label, Monument Records, which he according to the Washington Monument named. After the founding of Monument Records in March 1958 Foster took whole 5 months until he found a title that he was able to publish as the first of the label catalog. For other labels, however, it took a few days until a first song came on the market. It was a folk song with a long history and archaic -sounding text whose title was changed by folksinger Paul Clayton by Done Laid Around in Gotta Travel on and a third stanza was come. Paul Clayton was awarded in October 1959 a recording contract with Monument Records.

The long wait was worth it, because with Billy Grammer Gotta Travel on developed after publication in October 1958 for the first million-seller of the new record labels and the crossover hit. The title had already sold 900,000 copies in February 1959 weeks later the one million mark was exceeded. Still moved in 1959 Foster its headquarters from Baltimore to Nashville / Tennessee, the center of the country music industry.

Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison could stylistically at Sun Records from March 1956 does not classify correctly. Orbison's desire for large orchestral productions wanted him producer Jack Clement at Sun Records do not meet, because " out of you will never be a ballad singer. " Without any hit Orbison first moved in September 1958 RCA Records, where producer Chet Atkins also saw no prospects. On April 23, 1959 Fred Forster took over the role of the producer in the RCA recording studio of Nashville brokered by Bob Moore. Orbison's first record Paper Boy ( Monument 45-409 ) was released on 28 September 1959. The fourth recording session March 26, 1960 finally brought the breakthrough. With the instrumentalists of the " Nashville Sound" Harold Bradley and Hank Garland ( guitar), Bob Moore ( bass), Floyd Cramer ( piano ), Boots Randolph ( sax ), Buddy Harman (drums ), and a violin accompaniment and the Anita Kerr Singers Forster produced four tracks, including Only the Lonely (Know the Way I Feel ). In order not to let Orbison's soft voice lost in the instrumentation, an improvised isolation was created with wardrobe and thus greater focus his vocals to the forefront. The Ballad required a vote between B minor 3 to C 5, the latter in falsetto; which is slightly more than two octaves within a range of 17 notes. Together with the Here Comes That Song Again B- side, the single was released on May 9, 1960 ( 45-421 ). From Orbison 12 million sellers were delivered, in addition to Only the Lonely and Blue Angel, Running Scared, Crying, I'm Hurting, Dream Baby, I'm Workin 'For the Man, In Dreams, Mean Woman Blues and Falling. Greatest success for Orbison and Monument Records was Oh, Pretty Woman with 7 million singles sold worldwide, the last million seller was It's Over. Orbison took 75 titles at Monument Records on, brought it to 18 hit singles and five LPs and was by far the most important artists of the label before he was lured in July 1965 by MGM Records with $ 1 million. Monument was not financially able to raise such a large sum as the MGM Group. Here he brought it to 1973 to 156 titles. Even so experienced producers like Wesley Rose and Jim Vienneau did not make it to MGM to make even close to the former Monument success.

Important for Monument Records was also a saxophonist Boots Randolph, whose LPs details of Foster According to transpose at least 500,000 units. Moore's orchestra also accompanied Orbison at his hits. Bob Moore Instrumentalhit Mexico ( 45-446 ) was the next million-seller, as Monument Records was already an established label in the plate market in July 1961.

In February 1963, Foster founded the sub label Sound Stage 7, which was responsible for rhythm and blues. First hit were the Dixie Belles with (Down at) Papa Joe 's, which penetrated in September 1963 to 9th place of the Rhythm & Blues charts.

Development without Roy Orbison

In 1965, it was announced by the departure of Bob Moore, that this was part of 37% of Monument Records. Moore believed that his Instrumentalhit Mexico had therefore only a chance because he was co-owner of the label. Moore, one of the most sought after and best session bass player had, in turn, causes Orbison, switch to MGM Records. Without the two artists Monument Records fell into a first crisis.

In February 1964 Foster acquired by Sam Phillips recording studio ( with a 3-track Ampex ) in Nashville (319, 17th Avenue North on the top floor of the Cumberland Building ), which he renamed Fred Foster Sound Studios. One of the first artists in the studio was Rusty Draper (since July 1963 at Monument ), which from July 1964 regularly recorded here as well as Roy Orbison. This was in the new studio already on March 10, 1964 behind the microphones for It's Over. At that time, Monument Records was the largest independent record label in Nashville.

Here Foster also produced the unknown Dolly Parton, who had received a contract from Monument Records in September 1964. She had just the the BMI Award- Award - Country Title Put it Off Until Tomorrow co-wrote with Bill Owens, the Bill Phillips brought up to rank 6 on the country charts. Her first shots in the Fred Foster Sound Studios originated in September 1964; their composition Put it Off Until Tomorrow was recorded there on 22 June 1965. Until September 1967 originated with Parton 44 items, of which only two reached the country charts. As Parton moved to RCA in October 1967, only began her career by producer Bob Ferguson.

Also also not yet famous Willie Nelson took on July 6, 1964 here 4 tracks for Monument Records on, then switch to RCA. Only in October 1981, he returned as a successful country star back, leaving sporadic production work to his mentor Fred Foster - but in different recording studios. In the country music scene of Nashville and Monument Records penetrated from December 1966 before a blues - oriented music from the Mississippi Delta, which presented a certain Tony Joe White on the Monument label. To the titled as Swamp Music unusual sound wore in Nashville RCA Studio a few Session musicians from Memphis at (Chip Young- guitar, Jerry Carrigan / Jimmy Isbell Drum and David Briggs -Piano/Orgel- ). It was formed in June 1968, garnished with brass title Polk Salad Annie, who came up to Rank 9 on the pop charts.

Career start at Monument Records

Foster kept his recording studio on the cutting edge of technology. On December 15, 1966 was at Foster studio, the first 8-track recording technology ( 3M Company) of Nashville in operation. However, the building had including Studio 1969 soft an insurance building. Then Foster opened in May 1969 Monument Recording on Music Row in Nashville (114, 17th Ave South ), where one of the first artist Roger Miller recorded with his producer Jerry Kennedy later than 16 May 1969 - but as contract manufacturing for Smash Records.

After the departure of Orbison himself Foster had focused on country music and acquired artists such as Billy Walker, Grandpa Jones, Willie Nelson, Tony Joe White and Larry Gatlin. Since October 1966 Billy Swan took in Monument Recording Studio under the supervision of Foster; but only among music producer Chip Young succeeded him in September 1974, the One-Hit -Wonder I Can Help, published at Monument Records.

On October 20, 1969 appeared a still unknown Kris Kristofferson in Monument recording studio and recorded his own composition, Help me Make it Through the Night. Kristofferson earned the label the produced in July 1972 by Foster million-seller Why Me, which was awarded on December 8, 1973, a gold record. Kristofferson remained until July 1982 with his producer and label owner Fred Foster. Orbison returned for the album Regeneration ( January 1977) Monument to back, but both could not revitalize the artistic atmosphere, which they reached in the sixties.

Crisis and bankruptcy

Monument Records did not have any own Vertriebsorgansisation, but was alternately from London Records (a subsidiary of the British Decca Records Label; 1959-1961 ), CBS Records ( 1971-1976 ), PolyGram ( 1976-1979 ) and London Records of Canada Ltd.. distributed. From 1961 Monument Records picked up the distribution network of independent record labels to complete.

In 1981, Foster had invested a portion of its assets in the United Southern Bank of Nashville, which went bankrupt in October 1982. As a result, there was the first major financial problems at Monument Records. In August 1982, Bob Fead new president, but he could not overcome the structural difficulties, so in March 1983 debt bankruptcy had to be notified with 7.3 million dollars. On April 21, 1987, the remaining assets of the bankrupt label of CBS was acquired, which in October 1997 the company name Monument Records gave his hand to the Nashville division of Sony Music.


A year later, Orbison heirs sued the assignee of Monument Records, Sony Music, with additional payment of Royaltys and bonuses in the amount of 12 million dollars because CBS has purchased Orbison master recordings of Monument and sold themselves to Sony Music in January 1988 would be without the secondary exploitation revenues would have been disclosed properly. Thus, allegedly had not been properly demonstrated the license fee of $ 25,000 for the Orbison song Oh, Pretty Woman as a use in the movie Pretty Woman ( U.S. premiere on March 25, 1990).

Artist (if not mentioned in the text )

  • Cindy Walker
  • The Dixie Chicks
  • Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers