Sunday, 10 February 2008 12:26
Paramounts Rise and Fall
Written By ParamountsHome co-founder Alex van der Tuuk gives a thorough history of the Wisconsin Chair Factory and Paramount Records.
Paramount’s Rise and Fall by Alex van der Tuuk
"An essential contribution" - Dr. Jazz Magazine
"Superbly written and beautifully produced" -
Vintage Jazz Mart
"A solid contextual narrative...on which all future work should refer" -
How did a Midwestern chair company become a leader in the 1920s “race record” market? Their decision to launch Paramount Records in 1917 was almost an after-thought, a ploy to increase sales of Wisconsin Chair’s new phonographs.
When Paramount failed to thrive with middle-of-the road fare in the early 1920s, a decision was made to plunge into a new and largely untested market: records by black performers, marketed to black buyers. For a decade, Paramount led the industry in discovering and recording pioneering blues artists— among them, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Ma Rainey, Blind Blake, Skip James, and Charley Patton—despite questionable business practices and the notoriously poor sound quality of its records.
Never able to compete with the larger companies, Paramount was subsidized largely by Wisconsin Chair’s more profitable furniture business. The label died in 1932, but the parent company carried on for 22 more years.
Paramount's Rise and Fall examines not only Paramount and its recording artists, but the parent company's colorful history. The book features 120 illustrations, including previously unpublished photos and rare ads not seen since the 1920s.
Book can be purchased through the publisher Mainspring Press by clicking here