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  1. #1
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    Vee Jay Records 1964 to 66 + 1975

    Vee Jay Records really started it's decline in 1964.
    It had 2 big non-soul acts at the time -- The 4 Seasons & the Beatles.
    Their 45's were selling really well but VJ couldn't keep up with demand as they didn't have the cash to fund all the records they needed to press up quickly to meet demand.
    Vee-Jay had been in the big league as far as black music was concerned for many years but around 64 it decided to begin signing white acts, among them acts such as Hoyt Axton & the 2 listed above.
    In 1963, British label EMI offered Vee-Jay a group that had been turned down by Capitol Records The Beatles. Vee-Jay did not really want the Beatles, either. It wanted another EMI hit, "I Remember You" by Frank Ifield, which was a monster smash worldwide at the time. EMI told Vee-Jay it could have the hit but only if it also agreed to take the other group.

    VeeJay sold loads of Beatles records but couldn't keep with the demand or pay the artist royalties. Then lawsuits came in from both the Four Seasons and Capitol Records, the latter regretting that it had passed up the Beatles.
    Vee Jay reached settlements but was drained of cash. Vee-Jay eventually shut its doors in early 1966. For a label that had once been ahead of its time, it was over.
    In the end, Vee-Jay's success was also its undoing, and it is easy to view the label as just a footnote in the career of the Beatles. But more important is the enormous influence of its catalog, particularly the blues of Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker. The sound of pop music would be very different if it were not for the likes of Vee-Jay Records. Their tracks really influenced the likes of the Rolling Stones, the Beatles & many other UK 60's R&B flavoured acts.
    The 4 Seasons moved on from VJ in 64, the Beatles to Capitol in 64. Little Richard's last VJ 45 escaped in Aug 65, Billy Preston's last VJ 45 in June 65, John Lee Hooker's last came in Nov 65, the Dells in Dec 65, Jimmy Reed's also in Dec 65. VJ #715 from Jerry Butler came out in Jan 66, VJ #716 from Betty Everett in Jan 66 with VJ # 718 from Fred Hughes following in Feb 66.
    That was just about the end for VJ.
    But the label was resurrected in LA in the 70's.
    VJ #1001 being by Don Thomas; his 45 featuring "Come On Train"
    This was a case of a dying Vee Jay leasing an outside master. Vee Jay [[and Vee Jay International) under Betty Chiappetta in Los Angeles in the mid-70s didn't have new original material and so licensed in this record. The Don Thomas had originally escaped on the small new indie Cal State Record label.
    A 45 featuring an original Vee Jay label exists of Don's cut, but I'm led to believe this has a dubious provenance.
    Further copies of the single exist on the NuVJ label. This is definitely legit and copies of this were sent out to US radio stns [[in California & beyond) in 75. The NuVJ 45 was even play listed by some of those stns.
    Anyone know the story behind the Don Thomas's 45 on the original VJ label ? Attachment 20689

  2. #2
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    Vee Jay had left Chicago for LA in 1964 but soon hit financial problems. By 65, under Ewart Abner, they moved back to Chicago, leaving massive debts & law suits in LA. Their recently pressed records were seized at pressing plants such as Monarch. UK's Pye took out a law suit against them for non-payment of royalties & other monies due. So the move back to Chicago was undertaken in desperate circumstances for the company and around 4 months later they'd gone out of business. Also in 1965, they'd tried to get big sales on lots of gospel acts but I guess that was a bit of a desperate measure as black gospel was never gonna make the US pop charts in the mid 60's. A year earlier, they'd tried to get hits on white acts, this policy being pushed by the company's Randy Woods. Tollie was a subsidiary label, but that label's releases dried up in summer 65.
    Things came to their natural conclusion in August 66 when Vee Jay was officially declared bankrupt [[having taken months to reach the final declaration).
    The new asset holders, following the bankruptcy, leased out stuff to Seeburg for them to utilise on their 'Little LP' series of releases [[these being used on the companies juke boxes.
    In California, Randy Woods Modern Distributors ended up with many Vee Jay assets. The rights to many old VJ recordings were granted to Buddah Records in 1968. By 1972 Modern Dist. were taking action against the Oldies 45, Trip, Springboard & Upfront labels to stop them putting out cuts from Vee Jay's old catalogue.
    A new version of the company was started up in 1974, initially to exploit the old back catalogue of blues, jazz, soul & pop material.,
    In 1975 the new outfit licensed in & released the Don Thomas 45 on the NuVJ label [[& old VJ label ?).
    1976 saw the company put out the funky "Patience" by Rokk on their Tollie label.
    Some of Vee Jay's old jazz cuts were licensed out to Japanese based Teichiku Records in early 1977, Tokuma Musical Industries similar deal having terminated at the end of that February.
    Last edited by jsmith; 05-14-2023 at 11:19 AM.

  3. #3
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    Thank you for this very interesting and informative article on the legendary VJ label which had good success with the Dells and the Spaniels. I was totally unaware that the company was resurrected in 1974 as I never knew this happened.

    Your articles are very well researched and presented. I'd like to suggest a discussion of the SUE Record label which featured the renowned Jeanette Baby Washington. She started on the Neptune Record label of Newark, NJ then had greater success with the SUE label out of New York City.

  4. #4
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    Courtesy of "Discogs" The Don Thomas.
    This is a bootleg done due to demand of the northern soul scene. Originals are on the label NUVJ promos are white and issues are pink. They also have the correct flip side "train start movin'". The original UK issue was on DJM. It was later remixed and used in a UK commercial and released with the remix on one side and the original version on the flip.

    This label [had nothing to do with VJ out of Chicago] - this has their logo - that ceased in 1966, becoming Exodus Records before closing, also issued the Keymen Records "Fi-dels - try a little harder", again due to demand.
    Quite possibly the work of the the infamous Simon Sussan who was on the west coast and used monarch pressing plant.
    Original is: Don Thomas - Come On Train

    The Other One: "The Fidels"


    Vee-Jay.
    As regards "Vee Jay" a great label. I spent years over the Chicago label, well over 700 tracks, as well as the others listed [above] There is: Dee Clark[[e) [one of my early hero's] Gene Allison, Ivory Joe Hunter, Jimmy Reed [6-CD's alone]
    Gladys Knight & the Pips, Magnificents, Melinda Marx, The Rivingtons, Joe Simon, Staple Singers, Wade Flemons, the Gospels [Gospel Harmoneers] to name just a few. That can be resurrected, as so many forgotten.


    Last edited by Graham Jarvis; 05-14-2023 at 02:26 PM.

  5. #5
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    And then Motown issued this - not once but twice - as MCDO6215MD and MCDO9067MD

    https://www.discogs.com/release/6009...ee-Jay-Records

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mysterysinger View Post
    And then Motown issued this - not once but twice - as MCDO6215MD and MCDO9067MD

    https://www.discogs.com/release/6009...ee-Jay-Records
    I picked up this collection when it first came out in 1986 and still have it. Decent single disc overview of Vee-Jay Records prior to Shout Factory's 4CD set, Vee-Jay The Definitive Collection from 2007.

  7. #7
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    I was always a big fan of Vee Jay records and 1965 was a great year, I have quite a few of 1966 45's more so Jerry Butler & Betty Everett. Anyway a Jerry Butler great side from 65 and Barrett Strong the song writer. Probably did zilch?




    Check out Melinda Marx on the other Vee Jay Label from 1965. Plenty more from Betty Everett, Joe Simon etc, from 1965 & 66 .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bv92kJHxM0o
    Last edited by Graham Jarvis; 09-18-2023 at 01:32 PM.

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