The Buddah Years - 1973-1974
In 1972 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). I really don't know what happened to Peach Music, Inc (SESAC) other than it's songs are now listed under ASCAP as a defunct publishing company. In mid 1973 Cliff left Chart to take a position at General Recording Corporation (GRC) in Atlanta, GA. Slim again took control of Chart and immediately struck a distribution deal with Art Cass & Neil Bogart of Buddah Records, Inc. for national distribution and by June 1973 the deal was struck. Chart 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 and 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!
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 on 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". 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, the 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. Artists included Billy Cole, Billy Brown, Yvonne DeVaney, Steve Bledsoe, Holly Holliday, & Doug Koempel. All I know so far is that somewhere between 15 and 20 singles were released and these were distributed by our old friend Joe Gibson's company Nationwide Sound Distributors (NSD).
By 1978 a man by the name of Col. Tom Anthony apparently acquired the label. 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.) Tom Anthony was reportedly a man of ill repute, so to speak. I have heard his name mentioned a few times while talking to various people associated with the label and, unfortunately, no one had anything good to say. 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?
So the Chart Records story ends. Slim went on to form the very successful Scorpion Records in 1975 and in 1980 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 Reba McIntire where he has been for the past 15 years or so. Ott Stephens still operates WPEH radio in Louisville, GA. Joe Gibson retired from the music business in the mid 80's after his wife died. The Worden's? Donna Lee died soon after they bought Chart and Bill is back in his home town. 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 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!"