Gusto Records

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Gusto Records
Parent company Gusto Records, Inc.
Founded 1973
Founder Moe Lytle, Tommy Hill
Distributor(s) Gusto Records
Genre various
Country of origin US
Official website

Gusto Records is a Nashville, Tennessee based record company specializing in reissuing and licensing recordings from its vast catalogue of music from acquired record labels and their own studio recordings.

The catalogues Gusto owns include those of King Records (except for recordings by James Brown[1] & of Bethlehem Records), Starday Records, Scepter Records (except for recordings by Dionne Warwick[2] and the pre-RCA recordings of The Guess Who[3]), Wand Records (except for recordings by The Kingsmen[4]), Musicor Records, Chart Records, Federal Records, Audio Lab, Ovation, Step One Records, Atteiram Records, and others. Gusto Records is believed to maintain the largest independently owned collection of record masters.


Gusto was founded in 1973 by Moe Lytle and songwriter Tommy Hill, who owned the Stop Records label. Gayron "Moe" Lytle bought Tommy Hill's interest in the company, along with the Stop Records label. Tommy Hill operated the business while Moe was still in St. Louis. In 1974, Moe Lytle moved to Nashville, and bought Tommy Hill's portion shortly thereafter. [5] It acquired Starday-King Records from Tennessee Recording & Publishing, which was owned by Freddy Bienstock, Hal Neely, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in 1975. In the late 70's, Gusto purchased the Chart and Ovation catalog. Gusto acquired the Musicor, Scepter and Wand catalogues from the bankrupt Springboard International Records in 1984 from Jay-Koala, along with many masters that were recorded by Springboard themselves. Gusto also acquired Little Darlin' Records, and a large classical catalog in the same purchase. The Indigo and Audiograph masters were added in the '80s. The most recent acquisitions were the Mel Street masters, the Step One master catalog, and the Atteream masters which included a large bluegrass catalog. [6][7]

Gusto Records owns the longest operating recording studio in Nashville. Best known as Starday Studios, it opened in 1952 and is still used today in 2008 for transferring some of the older style masters to other formats, and some new recordings.

Gusto Records first signed artist Red Sovine in 1974. Moe Lytle was a huge fan of Sovine's and has claimed that one of the main reasons he purchased the Starday/King masters was so that he could own and market the Red Sovine catalog. The first huge hit recorded and distributed by Gusto Records was Red Sovine's single, "Teddy Bear", which was released in 1976 using the Starday label, and rose to #1 on the charts in 7 weeks, which was the fastest rise to the #1 position for any country music 45rpm record released before or since (the Beatles did it in 2 weeks with I Want To Hold Your Hand on the pop charts). The song rose to #40 on the pop charts. Most recently, Gusto Records released new material recorded by Porter Wagoner in the 5 years prior to his death. - - Gusto Records does all of their own licensing, both master licensing and sync licensing, under the name Gusto Music Licensing. See entries for Starday Records and King Records for more information on their origins.

"Louie Louie"/Kingsmen Controversy[edit]

Kingsmen - Gusto 2231 (1984)

Part of the master recordings Gusto gained control of in the purchase of the Scepter/Wand label were the Wand label recordings of the 1960s garage band The Kingsmen, including the classic recording of "Louie Louie". In the mid 90s, the group members brought legal action against Gusto to have ownership of their Wand recordings, including "Louie Louie", returned to the group, alleging they had not been paid royalties on the recordings since the 1960s. After a long period of protracted litigation on November 9, 1998, in a story that made national headlines, the Kingsmen were awarded ownership of their Wand recordings.

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