steven c wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Roger and Allison Kulp" <[log in to unmask]>
> > Dylan was found by John Hammond.The same guy who had previously discovered
> Benny Goodman, Bessie Smith,Count Basie,Billie Holiday,and Pete
> Seeger,amoung others.Columbia Records pretty much respected his judgement,by
> 1961,and pretty much gave him carte blanche to sign whoever he wanted.
> Minor correction! Hammond DIDN'T discover Bessie Smith, who had actually
> started recording for Columbia in late 1923. What he did was RE-discover
> Bessie, and set her up with her last Columbia session in 1933...
> Steven C. Barr
Nope..it says right here, John Hammond discovered Bessie Smith, Count Basie,
Robert Johnson and Benny Goodman and put 17-year-old Billie Holiday into Benny's
band in the late 30s while he was inventing integration. Holy jumpin'
catfish..and this load of crap isn't even on Wikipedia! Lookee here..
John Hammond was responsible for discovering Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Billie
Holiday, Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Pete Seeger,
and Bruce Springsteen, among others. As a producer, writer, critic, and board
member of the NAACP, he was credited as a major force in integrating the music
business. An early inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, John Hammond
was one of the most important figures in 20th century popular music.
Born in 1910, Hammond was the fifth child of a wealthy New York family. From an
early age, he showed a great interest in music. At age four he began studying
the piano, only to switch to the violin at age eight. In his early teens he
explored Harlem—listening to radio and live performances of black musicians. In
1927 he heard Bessie Smith sing at the Alhambra Theater. It was the peak of her
career, and the performance would remain an influence on Hammond the rest of his
The next year Hammond entered Yale University, where he studied the violin and
later the viola. He made frequent trips into New York and wrote regularly for
trade magazines. Though a serious musician, his greatest talent would be in
listening to, not playing, music. Eventually he dropped out of school for a
career in the music industry—visiting England and becoming the U.S.
correspondent for MELODY MAKER. Returning to the states, Hammond self-funded the
recording of pianist Garland Wilson. The songs sold thousands of copies and
brought Hammond, at age twenty, his first success as a record producer.
On his twenty-first birthday, Hammond moved to Greenwich Village, where he
engaged in the bohemian life and leftist subculture. Though privileged since
birth, Hammond recognized the gross injustice of the time and began working for
an integrated music world. He was the funder and DJ for one of the first regular
live jazz programs, and wrote regularly about the racial divide. His main
concern, however, was jazz, and throughout the 1930s he was responsible for both
integrating the musicians and expanding the audience.
Hammond breaks the music color barrier. (1:40)
Among the earliest musicians to work with Hammond were Fletcher Henderson,
Bessie Smith, and Benny Goodman. When they began working together, Goodman’s
band was completely white, and with the help of Hammond and great musicians like
Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton, the color barrier began to fade. It was around
this time that Hammond saw a young Billie Holiday perform. She was seventeen and
Hammond thought she was one of the greatest singers he had ever heard. He began
to write about her, and to introduce her to other musicians, including Teddy
Wilson and Benny Goodman. Towards the end of the 1930s, Hammond organized the
"Spirituals to Swing" concert, which brought much black music into the white
spotlight for the first time.
Soon after "Spirituals to Swing," Hammond invested in the first integrated night
club, Cafe Society. The 1940s, however, were a time of great personal distress
during which he lost a son and was divorced. He spent much of his time in Europe
concentrating on classical music. It was not until the late 1950s that he became
active in the industry again. It was then that he found an eighteen year-old
singer with gospel roots and a powerful voice. He said she was the greatest
singer since Billie Holiday, and it wouldn’t be long before the rest of the
world felt the same way about Aretha Franklin.
Working for Columbia records, Hammond found in the political singers of the
1950s and 1960s a vibrancy similar to that of the jazz musicians thirty years
earlier. He signed Pete Seeger, and found a young folk singer among the crowds
of Greenwich Village named Bob Dylan. His early recordings of Dylan included
"Blowin’ in the Wind" and "A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall." Important for the
simplicity of their production, they attest to Hammond’s versatile skill and
ability to bring out the best in a wide range of talent. In 1975, Hammond
retired from Columbia, though he continued to scout for talent for many years.
By the time of his death in 1987, the popular music industry had grown to be a
more integrated and politically responsible community, and much of this progress
was due to the talent and commitment of John Hammond.