Oh, you didn't pre-empt me at all. I wrote to Roger off-list:
Thumbnail sketch on Rainbow: It was a very early indie, begun in 1920 by
Homer Rodeheaver. He was disappointed in Victor's lack of interest in
sacred material in more depth and
wanted to record personalities and performers known to him through his work
in the Billy Sunday Crusades and the Chautauqua circuit. Nothing is known
of his equipment except that
it was acoustic, and at first, somewhat portable; he flew it around in a
small plane until establishing it, in late 1921, in an office building on
Wabash Ave. in Chicago.
About the same time, Rodeheaver developed a working relationship with
Gennett and used their facilities to help make his Rainbow Records, many of
which they also released. Through
Gennett, and possibly other channels, Rainbows also turn up on Paramount,
Herwin, Puritan and Silvertone. To help keep his operation going, Homer
also made non-sacred records with
his system, and took on some work for Marsh Labs, in the office next door
in the same building as his, when they needed acoustic titles; Marsh had an
experimental electical system. Some
of the first electrical records released in this country appeared on
Rainbow, but were not identified as such. Rodeheaver closed Rainbow in 1926
shortly after he returned to recording for
While Rainbow achieved some 150 numbered issues, the number of masters
issued is closer to 500. That's because Rodeheaver replaced many items in
his catalogue, sometimes with
as many as five different masters, to improve his offerings without
disturbing his established number sequence. Also he ran a second label,
Special, within Rainbow and Gennett for limited
run recordings of students, singing groups and other little known artists.
I have spent the last ten years trying to sort this all out. Just yesterday
I discovered that Rainbow was also responsible
for some of the early releases on a label run by Southern Gospel publisher
James D. Vaughan, called "Vaughan."
Rodeheaver restarted Rainbow in 1948, but then had closed it down again by
1951. In 1952, Don Gabor acquired rights to the name and began issuing
Rainbow Records out of New York City,
mainly dance instruction and Latin records. During this time, Rodeheaver
issued some 45s on plain, blank labels with a rubber stamp, though the very
last one, RB 1955 "Merry Christmas from
Homer Rodeheaver" bore a full-on Rainbow label. It was mailed out just days
before he died on December 18, 1955.
What I love about Rainbow is the do-it-yourself aspect of the label. Some
of the records are pretty impressive also, but most of the acoustic ones
are sub-standard in terms of sound. Nevertheless,
they deserve to be documented, and access made to what they produced. And I
have been working on that, as I say, since about 2003. In 2007, I gave a
presentation on Homer Rodeheaver at
the ARSC Conference in Seattle.
On Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 2:39 PM, Donald Tait <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Regarding Roger's request: not to pre-empt Dave Lewis, but here is the
> entry for Rainbow records from "The American Record Label Book From the
> 19th Century Through 1942" (Brian Rust, Arlington House, 1978):
> "This semi-private record bears the obvious label design: a rainbow on
> in full natural colour on a greyish-blue background. All printing was in
> black or dark blue. The recording was apparently done by Gennett, or
> independently. The power behind the label was gospel singer and trombonist
> Homer Rodeheaver, who also recorded for Victor and indeed for most of the
> labels extant in New York during the 1920s. Rainbow records are apparently
> all acoustically recorded. As far as is known, they consist entirely of
> gospel songs, hymns and popular sacred music."
> There might be more information on-line. I haven't looked.
> Don Tait
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Roger Kulp <[log in to unmask]>
> To: ARSCLIST <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tue, Oct 16, 2012 1:56 am
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Early electrical disk recording
> Could you tell me more about this label? The only Rainbow label I know is
> one from the 40s and 50s.
> From: David Lewis <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Sunday, October 14, 2012 8:13 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Early electrical disk recording
> I've just examined the first copy I've seen of Rainbow 1028, "The Man of
> Galilee" and "Christ Returneth" by tenor Loren Jones. It is a Marsh
> electrical, and while Rainbow 1026, also by Jones, was not listed in
> Rodeheaver's 1921 catalog, this one was. It must have been recorded very
> close to the printing of the catalog, which would place it pretty close to
> the date of the "Unknown Black Band." Probably both 1026 and 1028 were made
> together, and perhaps 1026 was simply left out of Catalogue II by mistake.
> Unfortunately, the catalog listing is the only way found so far to date it.
> At this point this copy was manufactured, Rodeheaver was stamping out the
> centers of his master discs and stamping the issue number in the rim,
> obliterating all traces of the matrix. A different pressing may exist
> bearing the matrix number.
> Why do this? My guess is that Rody was having problems with off-center
> records and this may have been a measure to insure proper centering. If so,
> this record is nevertheless a little off center.
> David N. Lewis
> Lebanon, OH
> On Sat, Oct 13, 2012 at 3:26 PM, David Lewis <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > Dennis and Donald,
> > Thank you for the reference on the Brunswick Light Ray system; I will
> > that up.
> > About Tri-Ergon, the diagrams on the Swedish site is impressive. While it
> > is similar to DeForest PhonoFilm, their microphone design seems more
> > than his and I find it significant that it had no moving parts,
> > which of course became a standard feature on microphones afterward.
> > However, I also note that in the photos of the early Tri-Ergon cameras
> > the mike is fixed to the body of the camera which limits it's reach and
> > mobility and potentially exposes it to the noise of the camera itself.
> > From what I understand about Tri-Ergon, despite these photographs, they
> > did very little in terms of direct sound before 1925, mostly adding music
> > scores to essentially silent films. There had been pictures with roughly
> > synchronized recorded tracks in Europe for about 15 years already, and
> > perhaps they were merely following established trends. Apparently their
> > record label only lasted from 1928 to 1932, and it is unclear as to
> > they used the film-on-sound system to record the tracks used on the
> > records, or if these were just regular studio recordings. Perhaps if
> > Lotz is reading this thread he may be able to illuminate us in this
> > The handful of Tri-Ergon synchronized films I have seen, all made around
> > 1930, are extremely primitive. For example, "Prix de Beauté" is still
> > practically a silent movie, with a French actress dubbing the voice
> > of Louise Brooks very, very poorly.
> > Uncle Dave Lewis
> > Lebanon, a.k.a. "Boehnerland," OH
> > On Sat, Oct 13, 2012 at 2:57 PM, Donald Tait <[log in to unmask]
> >> The Phonograph Monthly Review article about Brunswick's Light-Ray
> >> system is in the first issue of the magazine, October 1926, pp. 19-21.
> >> Oliver C. Nelson. It explains the system in some detail and includes
> >> diagrams about how it worked.
> >> Don Tait
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: Dennis Rooney <[log in to unmask]>
> >> To: ARSCLIST <[log in to unmask]>
> >> Sent: Fri, Oct 12, 2012 3:09 pm
> >> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Early electrical disk recording
> >> Dear Dave,
> >> It has been more than fifty years since I last looked at some issues,
> >> I
> >> seem to recall an article on the Light Ray process in THE PHONOGRAPH
> >> MONTHLY REVIEW sometime in 1927. I don't know how accessible they are.
> >> Philadelphia Free Library has a set (1926-32).
> >> Ciao,
> >> DDR
> >> On Tue, Oct 9, 2012 at 9:42 AM, David Lewis <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >> > Dr. B wrote:
> >> >
> >> > In late 1922
> >> > Hewitt had a visit from Charles Hoxie who was doing sound-on-film
> >> > recording for GE and WGY, and loaned Hewitt some of the equipment.
> >> > Parts of this system was later the basis of the Brunswick Light Ray
> >> > Recording process which is not such a mystery as Dave Lewis seems to
> >> > think!
> >> > >>>
> >> >
> >> > Well, good. Perhaps you can point me to a study on the light ray
> >> > technology. I'm interested in it, but never encountered much on it
> >> > record collector's scuttlebutt.
> >> >
> >> > As usual, there is no mention of Orlando Marsh in this thread. And to
> >> > knowledge Autograph did not issue anything before 1924, though
> >> > I've never encountered a formal, or even informal, listing of their
> >> > releases. Nevertheless, Rainbow 1026, "Oh My Soul Bless Thou Jehovah"
> >> > and "Tis the Precious Name of Jesus" by tenor Loren Jones appears to
> >> a
> >> > Marsh electrical. It is difficult to date precisely, and the copy I
> >> > have seen comes from a period whereby Homer was stamping out the
> >> centers of
> >> > his master discs and replacing them for some reason, so
> >> > that the mx. number is lost. But it was available by his third
> >> > published in October 1922. And typically there is no mention on the
> >> > that it is electrical; Rainbow was well past the number 1026 at that
> >> time,
> >> > and it appears this disc was used to fill in for an intended issue
> >> > didn't come about for some reason.
> >> >
> >> > Although it wasn't issued at the time, one very early Marsh disc that
> >> > survives is the "Unknown Black Band" performing "Muscle Shoals Blues"
> >> > from late 1921; it is Marsh mx. "19" and I don't know of an earlier
> >> > than that.
> >> >
> >> > https://www.box.com/s/dam8frmr96o04pmhsn5h
> >> >
> >> > The band is officially "unknown," but unofficially believed to be Tim
> >> > Brymn's Black Devil Orchestra. On their arrival in Chicago from the
> >> > European
> >> > theater the Brymn unit, which was still military at that time, set up
> >> at a
> >> > local Armory and played music in addition to conducting military
> >> > Some
> >> > of the drills were filmed by Oscar Micheaux and shown as part
> >> > of a newsreel exhibited along with one of his features though -- like
> >> > many of his
> >> > films -- it no longer is known to survive, and we don't even know what
> >> the
> >> > title of that may have been.
> >> >
> >> > I think one of the reasons Orlando Marsh seems to get so little love
> >> > that his electricals don't sound like electricals; they sound like
> >> > somewhat louder
> >> > acousticals with extra distortion added. Note the blasting on the
> >> > here, which would likely have precluded its release if Marsh had any
> >> way to
> >> > issue his records in 1921. While I will certainly not argue against
> >> > "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" as the first issued electrical, and this
> >> > track was not
> >> > issued until the 2000s, I would humbly suggest that this might be the
> >> > earliest surviving electrical recording of music.
> >> >
> >> > I also used to have a cardboard flexi from Canada which contained
> >> > music, recorded electrically in 1924. I don't remember the details on
> >> it,
> >> > but they
> >> > claimed it was the first electrical recording; it is certainly still
> >> very
> >> > early.
> >> >
> >> > Uncle Dave Lewis
> >> > Lebanon, OH
> >> >
> >> --
> >> Dennis D. Rooney
> >> 303 W. 66th Street, 9HE
> >> New York, NY 10023
> >> 212.874.9626