Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The Loaded Legacy of Casablanca Records

How record label Casablanca Records rode the 70s disco wave, petered out after some Kiss solo albums bombed and disco suffered a backlash, then re-emerged in 2012 as an EDM label.

"... As a record label during an American music-industrial boom, Casablanca Records, from its 1973 inception in Los Angeles, embodied all of the too-ridiculous-to-possibly-be-true stereotypes of excess and debauchery that marked the industry during the era.

"By late 1977, industry giant PolyGram had acquired a majority stake in Casablanca. “After the four KISS solo albums had emphatically bombed,” says Larry Harris in And Party Every Day, “we knew that PolyGram would at last realize that we were losing a fortune. They were handling all distribution for us, and it was impossible that they would fail to notice two millions returns. No amount of cooking the books was going to hide truckloads of unwanted records, especially since those trucks were backing up to their doorstep, not ours. When at last the ruse was up, PolyGram insisted on dramatic changes.” This development led to Harris having to lay off approximately one third of Casablanca’s nearly 175-person staff. “The bloodletting,” says Harris, “took place on June 29, 1979.”

Weeks later came the loudest death knell: Disco Demolition Night, the explosive obliteration of disco vinyl sanctioned by a “popular Chicago DJ named Steve Dahl [who] had lost his job when his station changed its format to disco.” For weeks, Dahl, encouraged “anyone wishing to destroy their disco albums to bring them to Comiskey Park on Chicago’s south side.” He made plans for July 12, 1979, to stack the albums in a pile in the outfield, then detonate a small-scale explosive, blowing the whole collection of vinyl sky-high.

Mike Veeck, promotions director for the Chicago White Sox, was fully supportive of Dahl’s plan. He announced tickets for the White Sox-Cleveland Indians doubleheader that night would be sold at 98 cents (Dahl’s radio station being at 97.9 FM) for fans who brought disco records to be destroyed. Says Larry Harris: “This drew a beyond-capacity crowd of over fifty thousand. The demographic was atypical—read: pot-smoking rock music lovers—and the crowd had no sense of baseball etiquette.”

When the dynamite-packed pile of records was detonated in Comiskey Park’s outfield after the first game of the doubleheader, the crowd rushed the field and “a small-scale riot ensued.” This public display of contempt for the genre came to be known as “the day disco died” and hit Casablanca, the mainstay of which was disco itself, hard...."
Read the full tale here From Cocaine Disco to Electronic Dance: the Loaded Legacy of Casablanca Records

More on Disco demolition rally here

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