|In late 1971 Better
Sounds, Inc was formed to bring all of Slim's record business companies
under one corporate umbrella. Better Sounds, Inc. held Sixteenth Ave
Music (BMI), Sue-Mirl Music (ASCAP) & Slimsongs Music (SESAC) in addition to Chart, Great, & Musictown Records. I really
don't know what happened to Peach Music, Inc (SESAC) other than some of it's
songs were listed under ASCAP as a defunct publishing company. 1971 also saw the end of Great Records. Peach Records had been mostly dormant since about 1967. Oddly enough, 10 singles were released on Peach in 1971 and 1972. In mid
1973 Cliff left Chart to manage the Nashville offices of General Recording
Corporation (GRC) which was based in Atlanta, GA. but not before securing a distribution deal for Chart with Buddah Records.
Slim took control of Chart and again had a national distribution deal but it may
have been a little too late. By mid 1973 Chart's artist roster had
virtually been depleted. Connie Eaton had moved over to ABC, La Wanda
Lindsey signed with Buck Owens organization at Capitol Records, Kenny Vernon and
Anthony Armstrong Jones had moved over to Epic. The little label was in
hard times. Their major artist at this time was Red Sovine. Red had
signed in 1972 and released a few singles and an LP that were very good
sellers. A few major stars from years gone by had signed with Chart
also. Artists such as Joe & Rose Lee Maphis, Carl & Pearl Butler, Bill
Carlisle, and others. Slim had hoped these major names would help sell
some records, and it did! It was also noted that the Willis Brothers had signed with Chart, but so far Ive seen no other mention or any records on Chart by the Willis Brothers.
Things went along
at a snail's pace through '73 and early '74. Then another opportunity
presented itself. Donna Lee Worden had written some songs that her
husband Bill felt were pretty good. He took the songs to Nashville to
try and get them recorded. One of the places he took them to was Chart
Records. Slim was wanting to get out of the record business so he and
Mr. Worden struck a deal. In April 1974 Bill Worden & Robert Harris of
New Albany, In. bought Slims entire remaining stock in Better Sounds,
Inc. The deal included all of Slims remaining record & publishing
companies. Slim was officially out of the record business, and by all
accounts this was the end of Chart Records as we know it. Although the
Worden's were very enthusiastic, as is always with the record business,
enthusiasm only goes so far. Donna Lee's songs were eventually recorded
by Red Sovine on his "It'll Come Back" LP and actually they weren't bad
at all! I'm not sure but I would venture to guess that some others were
recorded as well.
In late 1974 Red's
contract ran out and he went back to his old home at Starday and had the
biggest hit of his career, "Teddy Bear" a couple of years later. Man, if Chart had gotten that
one it may have saved the company, but I guess them's the breaks.
1974 also saw the
end of Buddah's affiliation. What was once a major force in country
music was now knocked down to the bottom rung on the ladder. Don't get
me wrong, they still had some good talent,they just didn't have the
capital to promote them. Promotion is what it's all about in the record
business. I believe if the Worden's had had enough money and/or clout to
pull it off, Chart would have succeeded. Unfortunately that wasn't the
case and sometime in 1975 Chart quietly folded.
With Buddah's distribution also
came another label scheme change. It went back to the same color scheme
as the RCA, except that the red was not as bright. The catalog
numbers ran sequentially from 5196 thru 5233. At this point the label
again changes. This time the yellow logo is replaced with a white logo
and the numbers change to the 7500 series. At this time it appears
the numbers run sequentially from 7501 thru 7518 and the records list as
being distributed by Better Sounds, Inc. I do have a few records with
the red & white label that have the matrix numbers as the release
number. These appear to have been produced in 1975 or 1976.
In June 1977 the Chart logo again appeared on the music scene. This time
as Chart Action Records, owned by Jack Rodamaker. Apparently Rodamaker purchaced Chart circa 1976 after the Worden outfit declared bankruptcy. Artists included Billy
Cole, Billy Brown, Yvonne DeVaney, Steve Bledsoe, Holly Holliday, & Doug
Koempel. All I know so far is that appromimately 22 singles
were released and most of these were distributed by our old friend Joe Gibson's
company Nationwide Sound Distributors (NSD).
By 1978 a man by the name of Calvin Beck under the alias of Col. Tom Anthony either acquired the label or simply started using the Chart name. It was known
as both Chart Records and Destiny Chart Records. Both names were taken
from label scans with the same address printed on the label (1300
Division St, Nashville, TN.)
What happened with him and the label
is anybody's guess right now. I do hope to uncover the truth sooner of
later. I do know that Moe Lytle of Gusto Records, Inc. owns Chart
Records at this time, having bought it at an IRS auction a few years
ago. I wonder what he gave for it? Lytle has released a few of the original Chart LPs on CD in the past few years. Red Sovine's "It'll Come Back", all of Junior Samples LPs, Carl and Pearl Butler's LP, just to name a few.
In the mid 1970's some or most of the LP masters were sold by the bank that held the loan to a company Ronnie McDowell formed, Masters of Music, Inc. They were then allegedly re-sold to the artists who originally recorded them. (Cashbox 1978-06-17)
So the Chart
Records story ends. Slim went on to form the very successful Scorpion
Records in 1975 but by 1979 had quit the music business for good going instead into real estate. Cliff Williamson worked for some of the top
music firms in Nashville before settling in with Starstruck Entertainment. Ott Stephens still operated WPEH
radio in Louisville, GA until he retired just a few years ago. Joe Gibson retired from the music business in
the mid 80's after his wife died. The Worden's? They moved back to back to their home town area of New Albany, In. Donna Lee passed away in 1990 and Bill in 2014.
Slim passed away on Christmas day, 2013. I was fortunate enough to meet and talk with him about his days with Chart & Scorpion on a couple of different occasions. He was full of stories and gave me a lot of information.
I think this
is a classic story of rags to riches. As far as I can see, Slim's vision
and tenacity were what kept Chart alive. If he were alive and wanted to start a new
record company today I think it would turn the country music scene on
it's ear, for I know it would come out of the chute kicking and
screaming "Listen to me. I am REAL country music!"