Honoring Alan W. Livingston: Capitol Records' Kingmaker Signed the Beatles, Beach Boys, the Band (and Bozo the Clown)
The legendary longtime Capitol Records president Alan Livingston died yesterday, and with the loss comes the end to a remarkable Los Angeles story. Among his other accomplishments, Livingston created the character of Bozo the Clown, marketed the first ever book/vinyl record combination (a "read-along" series in which you put a 45 on the turntable and then followed along in a book -- remarkable technology for 1946), wrote the 1951 pop hit, sung by the cartoon character Tweety Bird (Mel Blanc), "I ITawt I Taw a Puddy Tat".
Another tidbit from Livingston's extensive wiki entry: "He was also officially credited as the inspiration for the distinctive Capitol Records Tower, completed in April 1956, noted for being the first circular office building in the world."
Livingston signed Frank Sinatra to Capitol, and then convinced the vocalist to work with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra (resulting in some of Sinatra's biggest hits). It was under the his reign that Capitol moved in the 1960s from being an adult-oriented conservative label dealing in Dean Martin, the Andrew Sisters and Andy Griffith to signing the Beatles to Capitol in America (or, more precisely, exercising its option to put out the records in America under its relationship with EMI in England). He inked deals with the Beach Boys, the Band, and the Steve Miller Band, as well.
Here's to an LA visionary who changed the sound and vibe of American music (and clown culture).