Sunday, May 31, 2009

Drummond Up Business

Houston, TX- In 1965, Fred Carroll started a record label called International Artists so that he could market a band by the name of the Coastliners. It was a failed endeavor which led to him quickly selling the record label for $35 (the cost of the printing ink for the logo) to local lawyer Bill Dillard. Bill got together with Noble Ginther (another lawyer), Lester Martin (a recording studio owner), and Ken Skinner (of Tapier Music Corporation) and released a series of 45 singles that garnered very little recognition.

It wasn't until they caught wind of an Austin act by the name of the 13th Floor Elevators and signed contracts for the release of You're Gonna Miss Me that people started paying attention to the label. After the Elevators' two Dick Clark appearances and a second run of the popular single, it wasn't long before the label felt in over their head so they hired Lelan Rogers from LA to handle their production and promotion. Shortly after this personnel addition, the label signed Red Crayola (later called Red Krayola), Lost & Found, Thursday's Children, and the Golden Dawn. The move to a psychedlic repertoire was extremely evident in the acts that they signed to the label.

In 1968, the label started to suffer and Lelan left. IA decided to hire Fred Carroll back, who took over the tasks that Lelan had been brought on to do. Things started to perk up a bit with a release by Bubble Puppy and IA acquired a record plant in Nashville. However, the label officially filed bankruptcy in 1971 and little else happened until Lelan bought the rights to the Elevator's back catalog in 1975 and Roky Erickson & Mayo Thompson (of Red Krayola) resurrected their careeers. The unfortunate thing was that with all the interest generated in IA and the 13th Floor Elevators, the lack of output resulted in mass bootlegging of albums throughout Europe, Scandinavia and Japan. Lelan finally sold off the rights shortly before his death in 2002 after a legal battle involving the 13th Floor Elevators. A very thorough insight into this debacle can be explored in Paul Drummond's book Eye Mind: The Saga Of Roky Erickson And The 13th Floor Elevators, The Pioneers Of Psychedelic Sound. Although, some have questioned the integrity of what has been written there.

In 1980, a 12-LP box set of International Artists' releases was pressed; it included re-issues of previous recordings, demos, interviews, and radio spots. Sunspots released a CD and LP of Epitaph For A Legend- capturing the high points of this box set- only a few years ago. It quickly went out of print and was issued yet again by Collectibles as a double CD. Here is the Sunspots pressing of this original single disk collection.

Epitaph For A Legend
Epitaph For A Legend Liner Notes

No comments: