Bluebird Records is a sub-label of
RCA Victor Recordsoriginally created in 1932 to counter ARC Recordsin the "3 records for a dollar" market. Along with ARC's Perfect Records, Melotone Recordsand Romeo Records, and the independent US Decca label, Bluebird became one of the best selling 'cheap' labels of the 1930s and early 1940s.
Since 1931, Victor had made attempts of breaking into the budget priced market, first with
Timely Tunesand then in 1932 with a short-lived Bluebird record (1800 series). It was 8" and had a medium blue label. It too was discontinued after only 9 issues. In the beginning of 1933, Victor introduced a new 10" Bluebird label, with a tan and blue label (often referred as the "Buff" Bluebird) as well as the 10" Electradisklabel (it too started out life as an 8" record for a very short time in 1932). From the start, they ran concurrently. Electradisk was sold at Woolworth's, while Bluebird was Victor general budget label. Another short-lived concurrent label was the Sunriselabel. Both Sunrise and Electradisk were discontinued and by 1934, only Bluebird remained as Victor's budget priced label.
In the 1930s, the Bluebird label recorded popular songs of the day usually using lesser known orchestras,
bluesand jazz, as well as reissuing jazz, gospel and blues that had previously released on Victor. Some notable orchestras were placed on Bluebird who had been on the regular priced Victor label; Ted Weems, Rudy Valleeand Bert Lown. Another notable orchestra who recorded for Bluebird in these early days was George Hall.
Many blues artists were brought to the label by talent scout and
record producer Lester Melrose, who had a virtual monopoly on the Chicago bluesmarket. The records were recorded cheaply and quickly, often using a regular pool of Chicago musicians including Big Bill Broonzy, Roosevelt Sykes, Tampa Red, Washboard Samand Sonny Boy Williamson. They produced a characteristic small band style which became known as the "Bluebird sound" and which, when electric amplification was added, became hugely influential on R&Band early rock and rollrecords.
Bluebird all but ceased making blues records in 1942. Meanwhile in the mid-1930s Bluebird was very successful in competing with ARC's cheap labels as well as the US Decca label which started in late 1934. Two of the most popular Swing bands of the late 1930s and early 1940s,
Artie Shawand Glenn Millerwere Bluebird artists. Shep Fieldsand his orchestra signed with the label as early as 1936. Earl Hineswas also a Bluebird artists during the early 1940s. After World War II, however, Bluebird was discontinued and any popular Bluebird artists were moved up to the Victor label. The imprint was later used for jazzreleases and reissues as well as children's records in the 1950s. It has been reactivated by RCA Victor Recordsas a jazz label.
List of record labels
* [http://www.bluebirdjazz.com Official site]
* [http://www.cascadeblues.org/History/Bluebird.htm Article on Bluebird Blues]
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