History of the Discs

A Rare Red Columbo
  Development of the Red Columbos. As the 1940s began, Wayne King found himself in an unusual position. The "Big Band Sound" invented 25 years earlier, with its brass and reed format, was being supplanted in the market by a new breakthrough: the vocal record.

Sales of big band recordings were so bad that in 1942 the musician's union went out on strike. Most major record companies countered by signing and recording numerous vocal groups.

But the King Orchestra, decided that the what the masses needed was a new sound with and old flavor. Under the guise of joining the United States Army, King secretly entered into an agreement with Columbo Record Corporation to produce a series of Vienna waltz tunes, re-arranged to the big band format.

He drafted another alledged Army recruit, Glenn Miller, to help with the re-arrangements. Between 1942 and the end of the strike, King's secret band managed to record two dozen sides. King called the new discs the Columbo Park & Recreation Records, but, to the public, they would forever be known as the King Red Columbos.

‘Comparison with the Living Artist Reveals Diddly’
Columbo advertising slogan
  Is This For Real Or What? To promote the new Red Columbo waltz format, the Columbo Company mounted a nationwide tour, renting out halls and inviting audiences in for what were billed as "waltz tests." The purpose of the events was to offer a comparison between the sound of a Viennese waltz orchestra and the King Columbos' "true-to-life" sound.

An early newspaper account described a waltz test this way:

"Last night in the Poindexter home, Dayton, I heard a miracle. In the livingroom were two eminent King artists, Mr. George Wilson and his wife Martha, and between them was an Columbo Park & Recreation Left-Handed Phonograph.

"Mrs. Wilson commenced the program with her vocal version of Strauss' "Beautiful Blue Danube" and in the middle of her song the lights went out, Mrs. Wilson continued to sing, and lo and behold, when the lights were on again her voice could still be heard but Mrs. Wilson had left the room to "powder her nose" and instead we were listening to a disc on the phonograph, kept at perfect pitch and speed by Mr. Wilson's feverish left-hand cranking.

"I didn't realize there was any difference and am sure that none of the audience could tell where Mrs. Wilson left off and the record began. This indeed proved to both assembled here that in fact comparison with the living artist reveals diddly."

    Next-- The Lost Stash

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