The Impossible Rise of Warner Bros. Records, from Hendrix to Fleetwood Mac to Madonna to Prince
Author: Peter Ames Carlin
From journalist Peter Ames Carlin, Sonic Boom captures the rollicking story of the most successful record label in the history of popular music, Warner Bros. Records, and the remarkable secret to its meteoric rise.
The roster of Warner Brothers Records and its subsidiary labels reads like the roster of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, James Taylor, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, Prince, Van Halen, Madonna, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Red Hot Chili Peppers, and dozens of others. But the most compelling figures in the Warner Bros. story are the sagacious Mo Ostin and the unlikely crew of hippies, eccentrics, and enlightened execs. Ostin and his staff transformed an out-of-touch company, revolutionized the industry, and, within just a few years, created the most successful record label in the history of the American music industry.
How did they do it? One day in 1967, the newly tapped label president Mo Ostin called his team together to share his grand strategy: he told them to stop trying to make hit records/
"Let’s just make good records and turn those into hits.”
With that, Ostin ushered in a counterintuitive model that matched the counterculture. His offbeat crew recruited outsider artists and gave them free rein, while rejecting out-of-date methods of advertising, promotion, and distribution. And even as they set new standards for in-house weirdness, the upstarts’ experiments and innovations paid off, to the tune of hundreds of legendary hit albums.
Warner Bros Records conquered the music business by focusing on the music rather than the business. Their story is as raucous as it is inspiring—pure entertainment that also maps a route to that holy grail: love and money.
Includes black-and-white photographs
Henry Holt and Co.