By Len "Muddy" Mardeusz
Roving Reporter at- large
The Capitol executives ran the Label like the Harvard Business School. Consequently, they were not in touch with retailers and the changing times of the street. Glenn Wallich’s convinced EMI to clean out the Tower and revamp the ailing, floundering Capitol Records. It was time to bring In fresh, inspiring, knowledgeable and strong leadership. In 1971, EMI designated a 37 year old devoted friend of Glenn Wallichs an experienced record person.
He was an East Indian British citizen and highly regarded by EMI. When The Capitol staff found out who was going be the new CEO of the label, they thought it was a joke. EMI is sending in an East Indian gentleman to run the North American operation! It seemed to other label executives an East Indian from England was an unlikely choice to restore Capitol to its former glory days. However, the East Indian Record Guy was the right choice. He was a brilliant inspirer of people and he had terrific ability to make all employees, top and lower level, to have confidence in themselves. Still there was much resentment, “Hey, what the hell? Is EMI delivering us an Indian from the U.K.” Country recording singer Tex Ritter, kidded in the movies “I fought Indians but I never worked for one. But this one is from the east, I guess that is the difference”.
The running thought throughout the Capitol employees was that he was sent here to simply sell the company. No one really knew, but pretty much everyone knew that Capitol was in horrendous financial state. One day a large number of people were fired. That word “fired” had not been heard at the label—ever.The new C.E.O East Indian made a determination who would be a value to the label. In essence, he was taking Capitol Records apart and putting it together again. Capitol was still selling Phonographs and accessories. The new CEO came in and changed all that, got the label out of all this peripheral business, cut the artist roster down, cut the overhead of Capitol Records down to the necessary bone, cut out profit sharing and tangential businesses were sold.
But most of all he got rid of company politics, which had deadened optimism from the field sales staff. So the company was making changes throughout. New people were brought in and experienced people promoted. By 1973, Capitol Records was beginning to get back on track again. That was also the year of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” which was in the mode to sell over 12 million copies in the U.S. The label was still in a rebuilding stage but Helen Reddy became the top female solo artist in the business. And perhaps more importantly the Steve Miller Band and Grand Funk
each delivered #1 singles and million selling albums. In addition the Beatles scored with their Red and Blue compilation releases. People began to realize Capitol Records was back in business, although still a struggle.
The Warner Bros. Label had run an ad, early in 1973, in Billboard magazine showing the Capitol Tower leaning. The new A&R chief at Capitol showed it to his staff. “See, they were laughing at us, but within six months, we are one of the hottest labels in the business”. There were reasons for this improvement, interdepartmental communications were set up so that everyone was on the same page regarding projects. Capitol became a much tighter record company. While the new EMI
appointed CEO deserves much of the credit for the labels turn around, he failed to recognize the emergence of the new CD configuration. While other record companies were reproducing key album titles to CD’s, Capitol held off doing the same. The East Indian CEO thought the CD was just a fad. He was finally convinced it was going to be the number one configuration.
Capitol’s recovery was completed by 1975, when it released gold albums by Linda Ronstadt, Helen Reddy, Natalie Cole, Gen Campbell and Anne Murray. The labels new black music division contributed with best-selling albums by Peabo Bryson, the Sylvers and Tavares. In 1977, Capitol held its first major label convention in San Diego. The big news coming out of the convention was that Capitol was forming another label, EMI America. It sent a signal that the Capitol label
was going to expand. A new team of executives were placed in charge of the new label.
Another part of Capitol Records history is what happened after the Beatles broke up. Let’s see that would be coming up as Capitol Records part 8.
Len “Muddy” Mardeusz
Ye Olde Music Story Teller
*reference limited from Capitol 50 your
CAPITOL RECORDS - REORGANIZATION
In early 1970, Atlantic, Columbia and even little A&M were hot label’s. RCA and Capitol were like old warhorses just recycling same old artists. Capitol was living off the Beach Boy compilations and the Beatles catalog.