Chart Records was formed circa 1958 in Nashville, Tn. by Gary Walker. He formed the label primarily as a means to record some of the local talent and to lease the master recordings to various other labels such as MGM, Decca, Gone, Apollo, Roulette and others. His Chart Records artist roster at the end of 1963 included Lee Miles, The Winchesters, Roy Cook, and Curtis Keen. The first record released on Chart was by Don Carroll - "Misery Loves Company" b/w "Big Brother" (# 45-1). It was subsequently picked up by MGM.
Chart was a way for Walker to make records in Nashville with union musicians. “If you wanted to do regular union sessions using union musicians, you had to have a license as a record company with the union,” Walker says. “Essentially, my Chart Records concept was simply a license vehicle, to do recordings and lease to other record labels.”
Walker himself was a song writer and recording artist, signed at the time to MGM Records. He also headed Lowery Music Publishing's Nashville office for awhile. In 1958 he formed "Hit Talent Promotions"which included a music publishing company - Tower Music, and Chart Records. Around 1963 he decided to add a more professional look to his records. He enlisted the services of a local Nashville graphics designer and came up with Chart's famous logo. Beginning with release # 1015 the familiar Chart logo was seen on all succeeding records. As seen in the image below, the color scheme was blue graphics and lettering on a white background. The address now read P.O. Box 562, Nashville, Tenn. until approximately release #1045, at which time the address changed to P.O. Box 73, Nashville, Tenn.
Sometime in 1961 or 1962 B. L. "Slim" Williamson, owner of Peach Records & Yonah Music, had become acquainted with Walker when Walker was working at Atlanta’s Lowery Music Company. “I had a call from Bill Lowery, and he said, ‘There’s this guy down here, and he’s got a little record label called Peach, and he’s a radio-station owner,’” Walker remembers. “Slim wanted to basically get out of the status he was in, and actually own a legitimate mainstream label. He had networks and had already had success getting radio play and releasing records.” Together they released a few singles that Williamson had produced in hopes of a major label contract. The first being "The Way It Feels To Die" b/w "You're Not All Here" by Vernon Stewart (# Y-501) late in '62. The disc was picked up by Vee Jay Records and subsequently made it into the Billboard Top 20, peaking at number 17 in 1963. Williamson would enlist Walkers's help at Chart Records a few more times in the next couple of years to help with the release of several more records.
Release numbers 1015 thru 1035 were produced either by Gary Walker, Gary Walker & Joe Clark, or Tri-Arts Productions. Numbers 1040 and above are mostly Williamson/Stephens produced stating "A Yonah Production". Beginning with release number 1035, Sound of Nashville pressed the records. Records Y-501 & Y-502 were pressed by Bill Lowery's firm, NRC. National Recording Corporation (NRC) was located in Atlanta, Ga. I'm not sure who pressed 45-1 or numbers 1015 thru 1030.Over the course of the 1960's and 1970's Walker became a very prominent man in Nashville's music scene. He produced a few more records for Williamson even into the 70's. Since about 1977 he is the owner of a large record and music memorabilia shop called The Great Escape located in Nashville. You can read a short bio of him here.
Finally, in the spring of 1964, Williamson's first big break came. . .See The History of Chart Records - The Early Years.
Written by Martin E. Thomas, 2003-2020.
|1st Label Design - 45-1||2nd Label Design - Y-501 & Y-502||3rd Label Design - 1015 - 1065|