Autumn Records

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Autumn Records was a 1960s San Francisco-based pop record label. Among the notable acts on its roster was The Beau Brummels, a band who released a pair of top 20 singles, "Laugh, Laugh" and "Just a Little".[1]

Also on the Autumn Records roster was The Great Society, a short-lived Haight-Ashbury group that recorded the first version of "Somebody to Love," which became a 1967 hit for Jefferson Airplane.

The label dissolved in 1966. Tom Donahue, a San Francisco DJ, who worked for KSAN radio, owned the record label. Donahue invented the genre "underground radio."

History[edit]

Rock producer/DJ Sly Stone was a producer for the label producing Bobby Freeman's "C'Mon And Swim"/"Do The Swim," a hit on the national and regional charts in 1965. Freeman had had some hits on Jubilee in 1958-60, and on King in the early 1960s, but became the first artist on Autumn to have any big-selling hits. Sly Stone produced the Psyrcle's 45 on Lorna, which did not sell very well either regionally or nationally. The Psyrcle took a hiatus, rehearsed and regrouped before becoming the Rockets (later Crazy Horse, Neil Young's backing band), a band with 8 members.

After Bobby Freeman, Autumn's next signing and biggest success was with The Beau Brummels, who had two big hits, "Laugh, Laugh" and "Just a Little". Autumn records also had two subsidiary labels. The Great Society recorded for its North Beach label. An early version of "Somebody to Love" (as "Someone to Love") appeared on this label as B side to "Free Advice". The band the Psyrcle (actually The Rockets, later known as Crazy Horse) recorded a song "Don't Leave Me" for its subsidiary label Lorna records.

Stone produced a 45 by The Great Society, then known as The! Great!! Society!!! for the Autumn-Records subsidiary called North Beach. They cut an early version of "Somebody to Love," later a hit for the Jefferson Airplane. Members included Grace's then-husband Jerry and his brother Darby, author of "White Rabbit", but felt they had no talent because it took 45 takes for them to "get it right." Stone also produced a 45 for the band the Psyrcle (a.k.a. The Rockets, later known as Crazy Horse, Neil Young's backing band). At the time the Psyrcle had eight members in the group. There is a 45 by a group called The Tikis (later renamed Harpers Bizarre) which cut a 45 entitled "Bye, Bye, Bye" on Autumn Records. This song was later featured on their 1969 W.B. album Harper's Bizarre #4. Warner Bros. Records bought out Autumn Records' assets in 1966. Many of the groups became Warner-Reprise recording artists. These included such minor Autumn artists as The Mojo Men and The Vejtables. Sly Stone cut one solo 45, before he became famous with The Family Stone, which had little chart impact. The Beau Brummels continued recording for Warner Bros., but were less commercially successful than they had been for Autumn.

The Grateful Dead (then known as The Emergency Crew) were almost signed to Autumn in 1966, but the label was running out of money, so the their 45 was issued by Scorpio, a Fantasy records subsidiary. The band was renamed The Warlocks.

The Charlatans, another San Francisco area 60s era psychedelic group which had Dan Hicks as a member was also almost signed. The problem was that the label was headed toward bankruptcy and didn't have the necessary money on hand to sign either band.

Autumn was probably one of the most successful independent record labels in the mid-1960s, but changes in the record-buying public's taste and major marketing by already-established bigger record labels (nearly every major record company signed a heavy psychedelic band in the late 1960s) led to the demise of Autumn Records in 1966. Most of the recording contracts were sold to Warner Bros. Records and the catalog was sold to Vault Records.[2] The owner of Vault was later a partner of JAS Records which reissued the Autumn catalog.[3]

See also[edit]

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