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note from George Blau

note from George Blau The following is a note with photos from George Blau regarding electrical recording in 1925:

Art Gillham "The Whispering Pianist" making an electrical recording ca. 1925
I had a friend who recorded for Columbia from 1924-1931. Art Gillham, "The Whispering Pianist", is usually credited with making the first electrical recording which was commercially released: February 25, 1925 master 140125, "You May Be Lonesome", Columbia 328-D. (High Fidelity Magazine, January, 1977, p 95; also see Brian Rust, The Columbia Masters Discography 1924-1934). Art was interviewed in 1961, a few weeks before his death on June 6, 1961, and stated Columbia paid him a bonus of $1000.00 for experimenting with the electrical recording process because of his experience in using microphones on radio broadcasts. He began appearing on radio in 1923 and was a performer of the November 4, 1924 election night broadcast from New York's WEAF which was carried on an 18 station "hookup". Also on that broadcast were Will Rogers, Wendell Hall, Carson Robison, The Shannon Four and the Joseph Knecht Orchestra. He appeared on approximately 300 radio stations before network broadcasting.
Label of the first Columbia electrical recording.

Brian Rust shows Columbia's first try at electrical recording was in November, 1924, but no records issued. The next electrical recording session was on February 25, 1925 when Art Gillham recorded 5 electrical masters. He recorded another electrical master on February 26, 1925 and another on February 27, 1925. On February 27, 1925 Columbia began using the Western Electric electrical process for most recordings from that date forward.

I do not know the release date of Columbia records 326-D, 328-D and 343-D (which contain the fives masters from February 25, 1925). The High Fidelity article states the first electrical recording released was in April, 1925 by Victor of an excerpt of University of Pennsylvania's Mask & Wig Club. Brian Rust's The Victor Master Book, Vol 2 (1925-1936) shows the Mask and Wig Club's recording of "Joan of Arkansas" to be Victor's first electrical recording (master 32160) made on March 16, 1925 and issued on Victor 19626.

George Blau September 16, 1999.


Return to Electrical Recording | Recording Technology History Notes | this page revised Sep. 24, 1999
 
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