This is a short video that gives a to the point precis on Payola and the record industry in the USA. That it is still around today in different more subtle way's isn't that surprising, the record industry seems to have always been coated with a layer of sleaze.
It does raise the question about British radio & payola, particularly when you consider the USA connections to the 1960's offshore stations such as Radio's Caroline, London, & SWE / Britain Radio. Also Laser 558 in the 1980's had strong USA connections so what about them?
Consider Morris Levy & one UK smash hit in 1964. "With international sales of 5m copies in 1964, the year of its release, the hit single My Boy Lollipop, sung by Millie, who has died aged 72, “opened the door for Jamaican music to the world,” said the producer Chris Blackwell. He had flown the 16-year-old Millie Small from Kingston to London to manage her career. Millie’s shrill, joyful vocals, married to a galloping ska rhythm in Olympic Studios in London in an arrangement by the Jamaican master guitarist Ernest Ranglin, were beamed out all that summer from the new pirate radio stations, such as Caroline, that were instrumental in helping promote the record. In May 1964, two months after the release of My Boy Lollipop, Millie was given a guest appearance on the ITV special Around the Beatles."
Many archetypal releases have suitably exotic back stories and My Boy Lollipop is no exception. Originally released in 1956 in the US by Barbie Gaye as a shuffle blues, it had been a small hit. The tune’s songwriter, however, was a card player who had swapped his rights to it for a $100 bet that he lost. Morris Levy, a New York record boss, contacted the bet-winner and took over the rights to My Boy Lollipop, thereby owning the publishing income from this future multimillion-seller." (Source Guardian Newspaper 2020).
Who knows for certain if Payola arrived this early? It might explain why 'Winchester Cathedral' was on insanely high rotation on Radio London, when it was so different from their main fayre. As for Radio Caroline & it's director Philip Soloman & his Major Minor record label, well that was out of the closet payola at it's best. Being offshore in international waters did have it's benefits!
Radio Now & Then
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