The following article of April 27, 1959 by the Memphis Press-Scimitar's amusements editor, Edwin Howard, was released to more than 800 newspapers thru out the country today by Newspaper Enterprise Association, one of the nation's largest feature service. Edwin Howard tells how his single on Phillips International (PI 3540) ''Forty 'Leven Times'' and ''More Pretty Girls Than One'' was recorded.

NOW IT'S DO-IT-YOURSELF DISK
 ''So You Think You Could Make A Better Record?''
 
Memphis - ''Almost everybody has ''turned'' on a radio or dropped a dime in a juke box, listening a moment, and said,  ''Why, I could make a better record than that''! More-have said it than acted on it, of course. But the do-ityourself  craze has carried over into the record business, all right. Thousands of people, from truck driver to  movie stars are making records, and thousands more want to. But what are the average shower-shouter's  changes of turning out a hit? To try to find out, I set out to make a record myself. Because the recording  industry in no longer centered in New York and Los Angeles, I didn't even have to leave home. I found I  could make a record on a leading international distribution label, right here in Memphis. Only time time -  and the record buying public - can tell whether my record will become a hit or not, but it is made and is  being released today to record shops all over the country''.
 
FORTY 'LEVEN TIMES - ''My do-it-yourself disk is ''Forty 'Leven Times'', a song I wrote myself backed  with ''More Pretty Girls Than One'', on the Phillips International label. Doing it myself didn't turn out to be  quite what I expected, tho. Just one person doesn't make a record – whether better or worse than the prevailing platters. It may not take the voice of a Como, but I found it does take time, teamwork, and  patience. Heard of the team that made ''Forty 'Leven Times'' is Sam Phillips, head of Sun Records, and  discoverer of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Justis, and Johnny Cash. Phillips is one of the country's  five or six top independent record-makers and there are as many as 4000 of them, including the one-timers  who try to a hit, and run. I proposed to Phillips that he make and release a record of me singing my own new ''country'' lyrics, with a beat, to a mournful old hillbilly waltz called ''There's More Pretty Girls Than One''.  He agreed to go along with the idea. He didn't bother listening to me sing. Apparently gimmicks are as  important in the record business as voices, and I had a gimmick, at least. ''If you sound too bad'', he said, ''we  can always cover you up with a vocal group''. Phillips turned me over to his director of artists and repertoire  (A&R) Bill Justis, bop talking bandleader whose Phillips International recording of ''Raunchy'', which he wrote with guitarist Sid Manker, sold well over a million copies, just last week Justis went into business  himself, his new label being Play Me Records. A big part of an A&R man's job, especially with an  independent company like Sun, is auditioning talent, which these days mean mostly singers''.
 
ONE OUT OF 100 – ''They come in from all over the sticks, man'', Justis told me while he was with Phillips.  ''We end up recording maybe one out of a hundred''. He auditioned songs, too. ''Everybody wants to do the  songwriting scene. We get like 50 or 60 a day thru the mail on tapes. Most of them are real nothing. We use  may be one out of every 400 we listen to. It can be a real drag, but most of our hits have been originals by the  artists who recorded them, or by somebody in Memphis. We have four or five who write for us exclusively,  and of course they get more material recorded than anybody''.
 
''One of Sun and Phillips International's regular composers was Jack Clement, a Jack of all musical trades  who handled the control board for my recording session. Besides composing and engineering, Clement did  artist and repertoire work and was himself a recording artist. He, too, has just started his own company, with  the name, Summer Records. Altho new studios are being built, Sun still operates out of the tiny studio to  which Elvis Presley went just over five years ago to make a record at his own expense. Office space is at  such a premium that business is often transacted and lead sheets written in Taylor's Restaurant (plate lunch:  60 cents) next door. In fact Taylor's has been to rock and roll what Pee Wee's Saloon on Beale Street (where  W.C. Handy wrote ''Memphis Blues'') was to the blues.
 
A GOOD SIGN – ''It was in a booth at Taylor's that Bill Justis first heard my new lyrics for ''More Pretty  Girls Than One''. He was unimpressed ''But that's probably a good sign man'', he reassured me. ''If I hate  something it usually turns out to be a hit''. Justis as led if I had anything in mind for the other side of the  record. I said I had an idea for a song to one of the several tunes to 17th century English ballad, ''Barbara  Allen'' (Such songs are in the public domain – that is, they are uncopyrighted. By writing new lyrics to a  ''P.D.'' tune, an author can claim full author-composer royalties on it''. What I finally wrote on a piece of copy  paper, using the studio piano as a desk was ''Forty 'Leven Times'', a romantic ballad with, I think, a folksong  sound.. At first Justis liked this even less than ''More Pretty Girls'', and I was encouraged. But over the months (18 from idea to record release), it grew on him. He made an arrangement (all in his head, he writes  music, but not many guitar players read it), using three guitars and a vocal trio. Now he thinks it has a good  change of becoming a hit. I spent 15 hours working with Justis in preparation for the recording session which  resulted in the released record. Phillips himself listened to the various ''cuts'' and offered suggestions as to  how they could be improved. The term ''cut'' is a hold over from the time when records actually were cut  with a sharp, wedge-shaped needle. Now only the ''master'', from which the pressings were made, is cut. All  the preliminary recording is done on magnetic tape. The tape recorder has revolutionized the recording  industry in the past 10 years and is responsible for the rise of the independent companies''.
 
RISE OF ROCK AND ROLL – ''Fifteen years ago, there weren't more than 10 recording companies in the  whole country-not as many as are operating in Memphis today. Only the big companies in New York and Los  Angeles could afford the delicate and expensive equipment and the large, acoustically perfect studio which  were then required for making records. Today, all you need to go into the record business is an Ampex-type  tape recorder and a room with a good ''sound'' to record in. Of course, once you're in business, it takes knowhow  to make hits. A touch of genius and a little luck help, too. It is the tape recorder - more than any other  single thing – that is responsible for the rise of rock and roll. Tape took the recording business out of the  hands of a big bands and vocalists in New York and Los Angeles and put it into the hands of dynamic young  people to whom music was not a profession but an emotion. Like it or not, rock and roll is what resulted  when they started putting that emotion on record. Many a record hit has been made at the control board rather than the microphone, however. ''Witch Doctor'', ''Purple People Eater'', and ''The Chipmunk Song'' are  three of the more obvious electric hits. But who know where Ricky Nelson, Pat Boone – and for truly –  would be without electronic echo chambers? Most voices sound better – as you probably know from singing  in the shower – with an echo effect which lends resonance and covers up the quavers''.
 
PHILLIPS LIKED IT – ''Once Justis got the echoey sound he wanted for ''Forty 'Leven Times'' and ''More  Pretty Girls Than One'' on tape, Phillips had to give his final O.K. And test a release date. Phillips listened to  the final ''Forty 'Leven Times'' tape over and over again, waxing more enthusiastic each time. By the time the  master was cut and send to the pressing plant, he was much more interested in the record itself than in the  story I got making it. Whether or not ''Forty 'Leven Times'' clicks, I found out these four things which wouldbe  recording artists would do well to ponder''.
 
1 – ''Thanks to the tape recorder, which brought the recording industry out of its three or four ivory towers  and into hundreds of grass-roots recording shacks all over the country, there are more opportunities than ever  before for quick fame and fortune on the spinning disks''.
 
2 – ''However, only about one in every 100 persons who audition is ever actually recorded, and not more than  one in several hundreds records released can become a real hit''.
 
3 – ''And this one-out-of-hundreds hit is hardly ever what you could call a do-it-yourself project. It takes  teamwork to make a hit record from the head of the company right down thru the A&R man, the composer,  the artist, and the promotions staff. It also takes a ''sound'' that appeals to the record-buying public.  Sometimes the song itself provides that sound. Sometimes it is something in the way it is recorded.  Sometimes it is a certain quality in the voice of the singer. Many successful recording artists cannot perform  well before live audiences. And many top performers just don't go over on records''.
 
4 – ''But for the lucky few, who aren't so few as they used to be, the rewards range from considerable to  staggering. The average minimum artists royalty on a single record is about 3 cents a copy, the average  maximum is about 5 cents a copy. Composers draw from three fourths to a full cent a side. Thus the artist on  a million-selling record stands to make between $30,000 and $50,000. And if he has also written his own  material, he can add another $20,000 (or more, if others record his tune) to his bank account. No wonder  everybody wants to make a record''.
 
 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©