THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST is, today, widely renowned for the music that has been generated here over the years – and increasingly so for the recording studios and audio engineers who actually produced those songs. But this situation is one that has been a long time in the making. Although never considered in same the league as America's major "music capitols" like New York City, Chicago, Hollywood, or Nashville, Seattle nevertheless does have a long and interesting history in this realm. And that saga is one that spans the gamut from amateur hobbyists working in their basements to formally trained professionals founding state-of-the-art facilities, from local wannabe "American Idols" cutting "vanity projects," to major homegrown talents reaping international mega-hits.

They Laughed with Edison

The people of Seattle were first afforded the opportunity to see and hear the amazing new phenomenon of sound recording in action way back on Wednesday, September 11, 1878.  It was earlier that year that the famous inventor Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931) had established his Edison Speaking Phonograph Company, and a Mr. James H. Guild was here to provide a public demonstration of the remarkable invention.

That event – which took place at Henry Yesler’s Pavilion (SE corner of Front Street [today's 1st Avenue] and Cherry Street) – was promoted as presenting “The Merits and Workings of the Phonograph.” Seattleites who paid 50 cents to attend were presumable thoroughly amused by witnessing the novel and elaborate process required to record various voices and other sounds on the Edison company's tinfoil-coated cylinders and they must have then been astonished at then hearing the playback of those same sounds.

Although Edison's Phonograph was a technological marvel of the age – the arts and sciences of audio engineering still had, by any measure, plenty of room for improvement. And while the Northwest would produce plenty of amateur recording enthusiasts over the following years, it would require another six decades before the area would see the founding of a professional recording facility.

In the Northwest

As the national recording industry picked up steam in the early 1920s, some of the major record companies were in need of more talents than they were able to find in America's musical capitols of New York, Chicago, and Hollywood. One solution they came up with was to send roving teams of field agents equipped with still-primitive mobile gear to far-flung regions of the country to attempt to discover and cut sessions with various undiscovered talents.

In August 1923 a team from Brunswick Record rolled into Seattle and conducted the first professional recording session in Seattle’s history – one that resulted in the debut 78 rpm disc by Vic Meyers's dance band: “Mean Mean Mama” / “Shake It and Break It.” Then in May 1927 a team from Victor Records arrived in Portland and cut four tunes by Herman Kenin’s Multnomah Hotel Orchestra.  Those sessions in the hotel’s Tea Garden room yielded two discs, “Sad ‘n’ Blue”/ “Some Other Day” and “All I Want Is You” / “Pretty Little Thing.”

That September, Columbia's crew arrived in Spokane and set up their recording gear on the balcony of the town’s finest dancehall, the Garden Dancing Palace (West 333 Sprague Street). The Garden Dancing Palace Orchestra, led by Miss Lillian Frederic, cut a few songs – “Night Time In Picardy,” “Sunshine” / “I’m Afraid You Sing That Song To Somebody Else,” and “Rose Room.”

Then in June 1928, a second trip produced more, including “Deep Hollow” and “When Erastus Plays His Old Kazoo,” which featured vocals by former Souders’ band-member, Walton McKinney. And that same Seattle expedition also captured, on June 19, 1928, the Lions Quartet singing "Sweet Genevieve" and "How Can I Leave Thee.”

Leaving Here

In the early decades of audio recording, some locals who harbored a desire to cut a song necessarily had to travel elsewhere to accomplish that goal due to the lack of a suitable facility in the region. Among those who headed off on such a quest were a popular collegiate dance band, a boogie-woogie pianist, and an early country string band. The first to embark on such a journey was Seattle's Jackie Souders Orchestra, which went down to San Francisco where they cut two 78rpm discs (“By The Alamo” / “Every Little Thing,” and “Kiss Me and Then Say Goodnight” / “I Never Knew What the Moonlight Could Do”) for Columbia Records on September 27, 1926.

Then there's Butte's Art “Montana” Taylor, who ended up in Chicago where he cut his boogie-woogie piano classics, “Whoop and Holler Stomp” and “Hayride Stomp” for Vocalion Records on April 4, 1929. The next were John Day, Oregon's Happy Hayseeds, who cut “Cottonwood Reel” and “Home Sweet Home” for Victor Records in Culver City, California, on March 4, 1930.

Portland's John Keating Studios

The Northwest's very first professional recording facility was one launched in 1940 by John Keating (919 SW Taylor Street) in Portland. Keating's business was based on recording radio jingles and advertisements along with time-delayed network programming distributed to radio stations.
In those early days before magnetic tape existed, recording was done via RCA 74B microphones and a Presto brand machine which literally cut one-at-a-time on fragile acetate “instant discs.” Business was good, but with the outbreak of World War II, staffers were drafted into the military and on August 1, 1943, the company hired a new engineer, Robert "Bob" M. Lindahl (1922-2006), who had received a medical waiver from service. Thus began four-plus decade as Portland's top sound engineer.

Seattle Recording Studios

Seattle's earliest recording company appears to have been the modest George Rex Music Studio (315 Seneca Street) which began cutting acetate discs for local singers around 1941. Another facility that provided a similar service – albeit in a vastly larger room – was the KOL radio studios in the Northern Life Tower building’s basement (1220 3rd Avenue).

It was to that studio that a major jazz buff -- the wealthy Dr. Fred Exner -- took a local jazz group, the Johnny Wittwer Trio, for a session in 1944. Jimmy Linden engineered the date, which produced four songs released on Exner Records. The first – “Joe’s Blues” / “Wolverine Blues” – was not only the very first jazz record cut in a Seattle studio, it was also one of the last to have its master cut on an “instant disc.”

Located in the same building as KOL was Jimmy Linden's father's business, Western Recording Studios, launched in 1943 by Adolph Linden, who was soon running the Linden Record Company – replete with its own disc-pressing plant (824 E Pike Street) – as well. The label's first release, circa 1944-1945, was a 78rpm single featuring two jazzed-up Irving Berlin songs, “The Dark Town Strutter’s Ball” and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” by Norm Bobrow and the Gay Jones Trio. But the most consequential session that was likely engineered by Jimmy Linden (at either KOL or Western) was the historic event in early 1949 that produced future-star, Ray Charles's very first disc: "Confession Blues."

Around 1946 Seattle’s Federal Old Line Insurance Co. launched the Evergreen Records label out of their Northwest Recording Studios (9405 Aurora Avenue N). Among their earliest 78rpm releases were a couple classic country tunes like “A Smile From My Baby” by Tacoma’s radio KMO artists, "Cherokee Jack" Henley and his Rhythm Ridin’ Wranglers. Reportedly Henley lived with frustration that he’d once passed on an offer to join the mega-successful Sons of the Pioneers, and instead ended up as a welder and Tacoma radio DJ.

Seattle's John Keating Studios & the Magnetic Tape Era

In January 1946 Lyle Thompson was hired as a salesman by Portland's John Keating Studios (now in the Alder Way Building on SW Broadway). Then in June 1947 Thompson was transferred to Seattle to help open up a second studio (2nd and Pine Building, No. 408).

That was the same historic year that the Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company (today’s 3M Company) issued their new Scotch 100 magnetic recording tape (just as California's Ampex Electric Corporation did). The dawn of this new technology – which had only been developed after the U.S. Army captured a Magnetophone device (and tapes) from the defeated Nazis in Germany – caught the public's imagination and by 1948 a parade of folks seeking to have a recording made of their singing, instrumental, or poetry performances for posterity began beating a path to the studio's door.

That was the year that a brand new piece of equipment had arrived: Seattle’s first tape recorder – the Brush Sound Mirror model. In truth the deck didn't work all that well, so Thompson was excited when Keating bought a couple new Magnacorder decks which were far superior. Among the first to record some tunes were various artists recording for Seattle's Morrison Music Company. Then, in about 1952, Keating sold the studio to Don Motter who moved it to a new facility in the Fifth Avenue Building (1426 5th Avenue, No. 306) in 1953.

Morrison Music Company

Around 1947 Thompson began doing sessions for H. O. "Morrie" Morrison and his Morrison Records firm. In time, Morrison decided that he could handle the recording himself and with the acquisition of a recorder and a rental storefront (at 4th Avenue and  Bell Street), he launched the Morrison Music Company, Electronic Recorders and Associates.

Morrison would record an artist, send the master tape off to California, await the return shipping of metal disc-stampers, and then begin making records on his own vinyl pressing-machines. The Morrison label ended up issuing more 100 discs by local artists including orchestras, pop singers, and country players such as Paul & Bonnie Tutmarc.

Dimensional Sounds

Also in 1947, Chet Noland returned home from military service and began doing audio engineering for Morrison and other projects. Then in 1952 Noland founded his own Dimensional Sound, Inc. (2128 3rd Avenue) and the Celestial label which gained national recognition for pioneering the commercially marketing of pre-recorded reel-to-reel musical tapes.

Noland began by recording "vanity projects" for local pop singers, vainglorious DJs, and pizza-parlor-quality Dixieland bands, but before long Celestial's tapes began to feature serious jazz by Seattle's Elmer Gill Trio, Floyd Standifer, Corky Corcoran, and the Gay Jones Trio. Eventually Celestial began issuing records – including some of the Northwest's very first R&B and rockabilly discs.

Commercial Productions, Inc

By late 1953 Don Motter's John Keating studio was ailing and two of its engineers, Lyle Thompson and Lew Lathrop, quit in January 1954 to launch their own Commercial Recorders in the old KJR radio studios on the seventh floor of the Skinner Building (1326 5th Avenue). Only months later, in May 1954, Keating folded and Commercial promptly moved over a block and rented that space.
Equipped with four brand-new Ampex 350 tape recorders they proceeded to become the town’s top studio for years to follow, recording everything from an early Seattle Symphony album, to jazz, to some of the earliest rock ‘n’ roll records from the region. In 1958 they added a new partner, cameraman Dick Larsen, renamed the firm Commercial Productions, Inc. and in 1969 moved the growing company into new studios (1200 Stewart Street). In time Thompson's company morphed into Telemation Productions, and Lathrop split off to form Lew's Recording Place (1219 Westlake Avenue N).

Northwestern, Inc.

In April 1954 Bob Lindahl bought out Keating's Portland studio (now at: 411 SW 13th Avenue) and recast it as Northwestern, Inc. One of his fondest memories was the day that that a local high school student came by the studio to cut an original song called "Little White Cloud That Cried." That kid would, of course, go on to become one of the 1950's biggest international singing sensations – Johnny Ray – who scored a major hit with a rerecording of that same composition. Another memorable early session was one with a kid from the little town of Camas, Washington – a singer named Jimmie Rodgers who would gain fame later, in 1957, with the smash hit “Honeycomb.” 

Among the countless other sessions that Lindahl conducted were those that produced some of the region's first rock 'n' roll discs including 1957's "Teenage Boogie" by Dennis Wayne, and April, 1958's "Everybody Boppin'" by Clayton Watson and the Silhouettes. But Lindahl's most historic sessions were undoubtedly those of April 6, 1963, when the Kingsmen cut their infamous "Louie Louie," and April 13th's "Louie Louie" session by Paul Revere and the Raiders -- the track that got them signed as the first rock 'n' roll band with giant Columbia Records.

Sound Recording Company

In 1951 Paul W. Carter (d. 1991) started the Sound Recording Company at his home on East Sinto Avenue in Spokane. By the following year SRC was based out of a storefront shop on South Howard Street and was advertising its services as "Complete recording facilities, commercial pressings, radio productions and transcripts, audition and reference recording, recording supplies, sales and service on all audio equipment."

SRC Records was launched in 1951 with 78 rpm singles by Spokane's Scandinavian polka band, Arly Nelson & the Tunetoppers, and by 1957 the firm had moved (200 Symons Building) where it – including Carter's wife, Irene (d. 1996), who reportedly began engineering as well – recorded various country bands (Charlie Ryan and the Timberline Riders), and teenage rock 'n' roll bands including Bobby Wayne and the Warriors ("War Paint"), the Four Playboys ("Jungle Stomp"), and the Renegades ("Black Jack").

Electricraft, Inc.

By 1953 the competition in Seattle increased significantly: George Rex’s Rex Music & Recording Studio had moved to bigger facilities (710-11 University Building), as had Linden’s Western Recording Studios (2417 2nd Avenue). In addition, new studios – like the Excelsior Recording Studio (604 University Street), and Oliver Runchey’s Electricraft, Inc. (622 Union Street) – opened for business.

Electricraft was an electronics and hi-fi shop that included a studio in back that was mainly used for the broadcasting of KNBX's radio programs and various "vanity projects," some of which – by artists including Seattle's "Texas Jim" Lewis, Peggi Griffith, and Jack Rivers – were issued on a number of early labels including Listen, Now and J.R. Ranch Records.

Joe Boles Custom Recorders

In 1957 Seattle's J. F. "Joe" Boles (1904-1962) built a basement studio in his new home (3550 Admiral Way) and began making local recording history. A hobbyist since about 1951, Boles proved to have a good ear and nimble touch with his Ampex recorders -- qualities that saw him cut sessions that helped get major label recording contracts in the 1950s for Seattle's lounge diva, Pat Suzuki, and the Brothers Four folk group.

In addition he recorded the tune, “There Is Something On Your Mind,” that became the biggest hit ever for the visiting veteran R&B star, Big Jay McNeely, in 1959. That same year Boles engineered legendary sessions for a string of teenage hit-makers: the Fleetwoods, Frantics, Little Bill and the Bluenotes, and the Ventures (who all recorded for Seattle's new Dolton Records) – not to mention Rockin' Robin and the Wailers' fabled 1961 regional smash, "Louie Louie."

Northwest Recorders

It was back in early 1958 that Electricraft, Inc. hired Kearney Barton as a new engineer. Within months he took over the failing firm and renamed it Northwest Recorders. Then, within weeks, he was doing sessions for Seattle's pop star, Bonnie Guitar (formerly, Bonnie Tutmarc). Then in September 1959 she and her new business partner, Bob Reisdorff – the dynamic duo who ran Dolton Records – stopped working with Joe Boles and began working for Barton, who scored his first major success cutting the Fleetwood's No. 1 international hit, "Mr. Blue."

Acme Sound & Recording

Fred Rasmussen was a machinist who moonlighted as an amateur audio engineer and ran the Acme Sound and Recording service from his home (7551 28th Avenue NE). He'd spent years recordings country bands – including Seattle's "Texas Jim" Lewis' combo – in various local venues. In the late-1950s that Rasmussen also began recording visiting African American R&B acts like Big Joe Williams, Wild Bill Davis, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters – and even Big Jay McNeely, whose classic 1957 gig at the Birdland (2203 E Madison) was later released as CD.

But Rasmussen also recorded important local teen-R&B bands including the Dave Lewis Combo (in the Eagles Hall's Senator Ballroom at 7th Avenue & Union Street). But Acme's biggest claim to fame was the 1959 session that produced the international Top-10 hit, "Love You So," for Seattle's young R&B band, Ron Holden and the Thunderbirds. In addition he recorded the Static's "Buster Brown" 45 and some of the songs at Parkers Ballroom (17001 Aurora Avenue N) for inclusion on Bolo Records' 1965 classic The Dynamics With Jimmy Hanna LP.

Ray-O Studio

Raymond "Ray" Van Patten – by trade, a chemical tester at the Scott Paper Company plant in Everett – was another audio buff who indulge in his sound recording hobby from a home basement studio (2215 Burley Drive). It was around the time of the Century 21 Seattle World's Fair that his Ra-O record label debuted with the Madmen of Note's "Club 21" / "Peppermint Fink" 45, and Bob Mathews and the Hysterics' "You’ve Got Me All Wrong" 45.

Over the next couple years RA-O went on to issue additional singles by area talents such as those '50s rockabillies-gone-country, the Maddy Brothers ("Mixed Up"). Van Patton's most widely appreciated work, however, were the tunes he cut for Bolo's The Dynamics With Jimmy Hanna LP at Parkers Ballroom.

Audio Recording, Inc.

Only a few months after the March 1961 session that produced yet another legendary Northwest rock 'n' roll disc – Little Bill Engelhart's "Louie Louie" – Kearney Barton moved out of Northwest Recorders. Starting fresh with a new operation, Audio Recording, Inc. (170 Denny Way), Barton  conducted countless sessions in that new facility.

In 1965 he took on partners, moved up to bigger facilities (2227 5th Avenue), and cemented his reputation as the man behind the "Northwest Sound" of '60s garage-rock. Among the best bands he worked with were the Kingsmen, the Wailers, Sonics, Don and the Goodtimes, Counts, Dynamics, and Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts. In 1981 Barton moved Audio once again – this time into his gigantic home studio (4718 38th Avenue NE) where sessions continue.


As a youth in Ballard, Jan Kurtis Skugstad taught himself the drums and was soon working with area talents like Pat Suzuki, Patty Summers, and Jack Roberts and the Evergreen Drifters. Then, from 1960 through 1961, he joined Ernest Tubb's famous Texas Troubadours – but in 1964 he returned home to form the Lynnwood-based Camelot studio and record label. That year Camelot issued its best-known LP, The Fiesta Presents Little Bill and the Bluenotes. Some of the most highly regarded discs that Skugstad engineered were those by the teen-R&B artists, the Statics, Dave Holden, Jimmy Pipkin, Ron Buford, and Mr. Clean & the Cleaners. Camelot's greatest radio hit was "Namu," by the Dorsals (with the Gatormen) – 1965's rock 'n' roll tribute to Seattle's famously captured Killer Whale.

 By about 1966 Camelot had issued a half-dozen LPs and 40-some singles. In  addition Skugstad engineered two notable gigs in September 1965: Ernest Tubb's Spanish Castle Ballroom show, which was released on CD by Rhino Records in 1992, and John Coltrane's show at Seattle's jazz mecca, The Penthouse, released by Impulse Records as the Live In Seattle LP. Today Skugstad works out of Paradise Sound Recording studios and Camelot Media is involved in audio and video production work.

For The Record
The Northwest boasted numerous other audio engineers over the years, and in more recent times – with the advance of technology and the economy-of-scale providing high-quality gear at attractive price-points – the recording industry has exploded. Today there are literally hundreds of active studios cutting sessions in nearly every town across the region.
From unquantifiable home-based studios to world-class digital production facilities, the Northwest has demonstrated – especially since the Grunge Era when massive international hits by bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden were often cut locally – that our best studios and engineers are now second to none in the global industry.

By Peter Blecha [Courtesy and copyright, 2009, HistoryLink.org]

Peter Blecha conversations with: Mary Linden Sepulveda (May 16, 2006), Norm Bobrow (2001), Bob Lindahl (1994), and Ray Van Patton (1984); Peter Blecha interviews with Lyle Thompson (April 11, 1989), H. O. Morrison (November and December 1983), Lew Morrison (July 14, 1984 and January 20, 2003), Glenn D. White (October 2003), Kearney Barton (1983, 1984, 1998, July 31, 2008) and Glenn White Jr. (November 6, 2003), and Fred Rasmussen (1984, 1985), recordings in possession of author; Clarence Bagley, History of Seattle From the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. 2 (Chicago, S.J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1916), 684; Peter Blecha, "Studio Saga: The History of Northwest Recording," The Rocket, November 1984; "Portland Profile: Bob Lindahl,"  Water Cooled (Portland Oregon's Society of Broadcast Engineers newsletter), August 2000 and September 2000, Society of Broadcast Engineers website accessed on December 9, 2008 (http://www.sbe124.org/newsletters/pdx0206/06-02124.txt); HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Linden Records: Seattle’s 'lost' post-war music company" (by Peter Blecha), "'Morrie' and Alice Morrison -- Northwest Music Industry Pioneers" (by Peter Blecha), "Kearney Barton: The Man Who Engineered the Northwest Sound" (by Peter Blecha), "Dolton: The Northwest's First Rock 'n' Roll Record Company" (by Peter Blecha), "Seafair Records: Seattle's Swingin' '60s Music Company" (by Peter Blecha), and "Nite Owl Records and Everett's 1950's R&B Stars: The Shades" (by Peter Blecha), http://www.historylink.org (accessed on January 15, 2009); Camelot Media website accessed on December 10, 2008 (http://www.camelotmedia.com/skugstad.html).


YAKIMA'S LEGENDARY ROCKABILLY KING, guitarist Jerry Lee Merritt, left his local band the Pacers in 1958 to join Gene Vincent for his riotous ‘59 overseas tour and one studio LP, Crazy Times. But that’s a whole ‘nother story . . . 

Meanwhile, the Pacers rock­ed on with new members including Mike Mandel (piano). The band held down a steady gig at the Walk In Club -- Yakima's early teen hangout -- but were eventually ousted by crosstown rivals, the Rumblers.
Around that time period another combo, the Checkers, were starting to create some noise in the Lower Yakima Valley. The original Checkers -- Bob Campbell (piano), Bob Torres (bass), Nick Torres (vocals), Johnny Hensley (guitar), Glen Dahl (vocals, bass) and Ralph Gibson (drums) -- performed their initial gigs at community festivals throughout the In­land Empire. By 1959 Lowell Fronek (drums) and Mike Metko (sax) had joined on. ­Metko, who worked at radio sta­tion KENE, arranged for the group to record their first instrumental-rock single, “The Big Cat”/“Buzz” live from the Toppenish Grange hall.

During this period the Checkers began making trips to the coast to face the Wailers, Frantics, Adventurers and others in Battles of the Bands. Hensley eventually left for Seattle, Campbell dropped out, Mandel was added and later, ex-Rumbler Doug Robertson (drums) joined on. 

By sheer chance the Checkers soon met a young guitarist, Larry Coryell, at Korton’s Music Store in Richland, and hired him on the spot. Earlier Metko’s radio connections got the group hired for a series of shows with singing sensation, Jimmy Bowen. This break led to a long string of gigs backing artists of the day: Brenda Lee, Buddy Knox, Paul Anka, Jimmy Clanton, the Mills Bros., Johnny Preston, Dorsey Burnette, Dodie Stevens, Gene Vincent and many others.

In 1960 the Torres Bros. dropped out, ex-Rumbler, Dick Ruthardt (bass) was added and the Checkers proceeded to do some recording sessions with engineer, Joe Boles, in West Seattle. Then, somehow, the guys convinced themselves to drive to Phoenix, Arizona to find fame and for­tune. However, Coryell was trapped in spring semester high school classes. Hey, no problem! The Checkers packed their gear into a trailer and simply kidnapped Coryell (locked in the trailer!) to Phoenix. Their only booking upon arrival was at a wrestling match intermission.

Months later the Checkers headed to Hollywood with their Boles Studio tapes and began knocking on doors. The Arvee Record Co. agreed to release their twin wild honkers, “Skooby Doo Part l”/ “Skooby Doo Part 2” but only weeks later rereleased “Part I” with “Swingin’ Summer” as the flipside. The Checkers had also recorded “Soft Blue” and a remake of Metko's “Big Cat.” Recorded by Boles for local record mogul Jerry Dennon, the record’s release was delayed for two years, much too late to make a positive im­pact for the band.

In the winter of 1960 to ‘61, the Checkers were signed to an extended road tour with Bobby Vee, the Ventures and Little Bill. With Coryell back attending Richland High, ex-Adventurer Joe Johansen stepped in. By the summer's end Metko moved to Phoenix and another ex-Adventurer, Jim Michaelson, replaced him. The Checkers were invited by Jimmy Bowen and Johnny Burnette to record a single, “Blue Saturday”/ “Cascade” at the famed Gold Star Studios in L.A. “Blue Saturday,” a Floyd Cramer-esque pop-instrumental, saw significant chart action in numerous regions. The Checkers toured that autumn with Freddy Cannon, while Coryell moved to Seattle to attend fall classes at the UW, and he was soon recruited by the Dynamics. The Checkers made their final tour in early 1962, backing Johnny Burnette across Canada. They returned to the NW and gigged locally with newest members Brady Anderson (guitar) and Dennis Yaden (sax) before cashing in their chips in mid-‘62.

The Dynamics became a top draw on the Northwest teen-R&B dance scene, and released several regional hit records including, “J.A.J.” in 1962 and “Genevieve” (with guest organist Mandel) in ‘63; but Coryell also began moonlighting at after-hours jam sessions with the areas top jazzers; Overton Berry, Chuck Mahaffey, Jerome Grey, Chuck Metcalf, etc. In 1965 local players convinced Coryell to further his jazz quest in NYC where he first hooked up with an odd avant outfit, the Free Spirits, who recorded an LP of very primal folk-rock-jazz.

Meanwhile, Mike Metko and the Nocturnals formed and they became a fixture on the Phoenix club scene. Metko’s still in the music biz and has been respectfully nicknamed Daddy Rock ‘n’ Roll by the younger crowd down there. Johansen went on to the Dave Lewis Trio and appears on their classic recordings of 1963-‘66. As one of the key musicians of the early Northwest scene, today Johansen gigs with a trio in Tacoma. Mandel fell into the Sea-Tac blues scene for a long spell and in l969 Jack Bruce (ex-Cream) added him, Coryell and drummer Mitch Mitchell (ex-Jimi Hendrix Experience), creating the world’s newest supergroup. Jack Bruce and Friends toured the country with hard-rockers, Mountain, before dissolving.

In 1971 Coryell and Mandel formed Foreplay and released the Offering LP. Their next ensemble work together was as the Eleventh House, which released three LPs of progressive jazz-fusion between 1973-‘76. In 1980 Mandel recorded an LP for Vanguard Records. By the 1980s he was working out of NYC as a successful freelancer, writing ad jingles and background themes for daytime TV (All My Children, Another World), and was involved in other diverse musical activities. Coryell has gained a reputation as a master of many styles, but since ’76 he has focused on his acoustic classical technique and has written an instructional column in Guitar Player magazine since ‘78. Coryell, has performed and/or recorded with innumerable jazz greats, continues his life in music, recording albums and performing an incredible and ongoing schedule of concerts around the globe.
[This is an updated and revised version of a copyrighted essay by Peter Blecha that was originally written and published in The Rocket magazine in December, 1984.]


BARNEY HILLIARD HAS LIVED TWICE THE LIFE that most people ever will. As a pre-teen saxophonist he studied under Seattle’s 1930s jazz giant, Frank Waldron. Then, while a student at Garfield High School, he helped found Seattle’s first teenage ‘50s rockin’-R&B band, the Dave Lewis Combo. They became locally influential stars – Jimi Hendrix was among their biggest fans – and Hilliard was likely the very first kid to honk out what would ultimately become Washington’s “unofficial state rock ‘n’ roll song,” “Louie Louie.”

The Civil Rights Era saw Hilliard and the Combo, as members of the still-racially segregated AFM Local 493 (“negro musicians union”), helping break down barriers by touring the state in 1955 backing rockabilly stars Bill Haley and His Comets, and later being the first African American band to play the north end’s top teen dancehall, Parker’s Ballroom. And, all along the way, Hilliard honored his own father’s example, by working one or more side jobs– including being the first black man hired as a management trainee by a major downtown department store. While raising his own family of five kids, Hilliard went on to graduate from the University of Washington, serve in the ROTC, work for Governor Dan Evans’ administration, earn his law degree, and serve as manager of a couple businesses and several more government agency departments. Playing in weekend nightclub bands all the while, Barney Hilliard finally retired in 2012 – one year prior to being honored by the musicians’ union for fifty years of dedicated service.

Deep Roots

Barney Hilliard was born on December 6, 1937, to Lamar and Argola Hilliard who had moved to Weed, California, from Mississippi the year prior. But then in 1943 – at the midpoint of World War II – the draw of good-paying shipyard work in Seattle brought the family here where they initially settled in West Seattle. Young Hilliard proceeded to attend E. C. Hughes Elementary School (7740 34th Avenue SW) from kindergarten into second grade. The family then moved to a Central District home (721 21st Avenue) while Mr. Hilliard began a long career at Washington Iron Works. He also made ends meet by taking on a second job as a part-time custodian on weekends – and that example was one that would have a direct bearing on his son’s life.

Hilliard began attending Horace Mann School and at around the same time that his cousin, Bob Herring, acquired a trumpet and began learning to play music. His parents agreed but suggested that instead of another trumpet, he should pick a different instrument, and while shopping at a downtown music shop the youngster selected an alto saxophone.

It was a later when he was attending Meany Jr. High that he met a social studies teacher who taught music to students on the side. Hilliard recently recalled that: “I remember that he introduced me to [jazz great] Coleman Hawkins – he pulled out a record player and played a Coleman Hawkins record for me right then and right there at Meany. He said, ‘Now that’s real music. Listen to what he does and how he does it. Isn’t that smooth?’”

Hilliard liked jazz and early R&B tunes, but because they were rarely aired by Seattle’s whitebread radio stations, he and his pals’ access to this music was almost strictly through records. He earned his record-buying money from a Seattle Post-Intelligencer paper route – and among the sax-men he most admired were Louis Jordan, Illinois Jacquet, Big Jay McNeely, Sam Butera, Gene Ammons, and Cannonball Adderly. “In those days,” said Hilliard, “the mass media considered R&B and Soul and all that to be ‘race music’ and it was banned, so we mostly listened to records in the black community. And so we would have to buy records and listen to those at home or at house parties. So that’s how you would hear the music – and that’s how I found out that a lot of those songs had saxophone solos. I said ‘Oh, boy,’ you know [laughter]. So that got me locked in.”

By this point Hilliard was getting reasonably good on his sax and he fell in with a couple fellow students – Dave Lewis (piano) and John Johnston (drums) – and the trio began performing at various school events (as did Lewis’ other group, a doo-wop vocal quintet, the Five Checks, which included George Griffin) before graduating in June 1953.

Garfield Days

In the fall of that same year these kids began attending Garfield High School, an educational institution already renowned for having most multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and cosmopolitan student body in the Seattle School District. Garfield had already produced such talents as Robert “Bumps” Blackwell, Quincy Jones, and Ernestine Anderson. Hilliard joined Garfield’s marching band (under instructor Ray Johnston), while he also took music lessons with Frank Waldron, a legendary Seattle jazz veteran who had already taught Quincy Jones, Jabo Ward, and many others. Soon Hilliard and his piano-playing buddy Dave Lewis, recruited additional players (including George Griffin as drummer) and formed a quintet, the Dave Lewis Combo.

As Seattle’s first teenaged rockin’-R&B band, the Combo played their debut dance at a YMCA but were soon spotted by prominent entertainment booker, Leonard Russell, who brought them into the old Palomar Theatre. Russell then got them additional gigs in Olympia, Tacoma, Yakima, Everett, Bremerton, and even Oregon’s Jantzen Beach Amusement Park.

Travails & Tours

For five decades Seattle had two racially segregated musicians unions – American Federation of Musicians Local 76 (for the white players), and AFM 493 (for everyone else). Local 76 had always been very zealous in protecting their control of the most lucrative gigs in town, which were the large theaters, nightclubs, and hotel ballrooms downtown and towards the north end. Over the years discussions had occurred regarding the possibility of merging the two unions, but that would not occur until January 1958.

But back in 1954 the Combo was beginning to get a few gigs at cabaret dance parties and that’s when an agent from Local 493 caught them and insisted that they join the union – and Hilliard has been a union man ever since. In the summer of 1955 the Combo was hired as opening act for Bill Haley and His Comets who were out touring Washington in support of their radio hits like “Rock Around The Clock.” And then – after graduating from Garfield in June 1956 – their bands repeated the tour again. That same summer Hilliard took a seasonal job at Boeing, and in the fall began studies at the University of Washington.

Though established as Seattle’s top rock band, the Combo had never yet been able to play at the north end’s prime dancehall, Parker’s Ballroom, which had always been considered Local 76’s turf. But the Civil Rights movement was making progress and Parker’s management wanted the Combo enough to force that union to live with their decision. And thus that wall was finally breached and the Combo showed that they could attract white kids too.

The Birdland & “Barney’s Tune”

At mid-decade local African American businessman Wilmer Morgan converted an East Madison Street neighborhood roller skating rink (and former theater and nightclub) into the Birdland Supper Club. It was here that Hilliard and his pals were first exposed to big-time jazz and R&B artists including Dexter Gordon, Big Jay McNeely, Blinky Allen, Pony Poindexter and Cal Tjader.
It was in 1957 when Morgan invited the Combo to work as Birdland’s house-band. Although the band would be giving up their ability to travel, the upside was that they would have a regular weekend gig in their own neighborhood and a ready daytime rehearsal space as well. Although the Combo had begun by copying their favorite records, in time they began to come up with their own original songs, including Lewis’ later regional radio hit, “David’s Mood” – and “Barney’s Tune,” which when recorded by the Combo in 1960 would stand as the only disc Hilliard would ever cut.
“Louie Louie”

Hilliard took a day job again at Boeing that summer of ’57, and by winter had also renewed courses at UW where he joined on with the ROTC program. On May 3, 1958, he married Norberta Arviso and later that year they were blessed with their first of five children. Meanwhile, the Birdland gig was an key part of his life. The Combo was considered the hottest thing in town and by now plenty of younger musicians – like young Jimmy (“Jimi”) Hendrix – were dropping in nightly to study the best.
One thing they all took away was “Louie Louie.” The Combo had been the first local band to adopt that 1957 tune by California R&B singer, Richard Berry, and from there it eventually snowballed into a must-play teen-dance favorite. Today it is regarded as Washington State’s “unofficial rock ‘n’ roll song” – and it was Hilliard (and the band’s other Sax-man, J.B. Allen) who got all this honking started.

Changing Times

In time George Griffin left the Combo to join guitarist Wendell Johnson at a steady five-nighter gig downtown at Dave’s Fifth Avenue, and in 1959 Hilliard joined them. Hilliard also returned to Boeing, but those late nights out finally caught up with him, and eventually he left Boeing. Hilliard moved on to the Colony Club, playing five nights a week (and backing the floorshows on the weekends) for a year with Leroy Franklin (keyboards/vocals) and Dennis Trout (drums). It was a grueling schedule and one that caused Hilliard to take stock, and finally committing himself to finding a day job and only playing music on weekends.
In the early-mid ‘60s the Civil Rights movement was making significant gains and Hilliard would be a grateful beneficiary of this social progress. “At that time, organizations like CORE and the Urban League were putting pressure on the downtown merchants to do something about hiring African Americans. As it turned out, each of those downtown department stores moved on that. And I was the first [black] management trainee at J.C. Penney’s.”

From 1962 to 1967 Hilliard worked weekdays at Penney’s and weekends playing music. He also managed, in 1963, to purchase a home for his growing family. Meanwhile – between 1962 and 1967 Hilliard played the military base dance with the Four Sounds.

Hilliard had a growing urge to get involved in the Civil Rights movement, so in 1967 he accepted a job offer to become coordinator of Equal Employment Opportunity activities and the Jobs Now program for the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. He worked with corporations to identify private sector job opportunities for the disadvantaged and minority youth. Hilliard coordinated with the Seattle Urban League, the State Employment Security Department and various community agencies to find applicants and referrals for jobs through the program. He also conducted race relations seminars for corporate managers and supervisors. He interacted with big-time players like Boeing and Lockheed. Through this activity Hilliard developed a keen sense of local politics and corporate culture, and when he asked some friendly downtown business leaders what next steps he should take for his career, he was advised to complete his college degree and thus in 1968 Hilliard returned to UW where he graduated in 1971.

Law School & Government Gigs

That same year Hilliard entered the UW law school -- while simultaneously playing music on weekends with the Johnny Lewis Trio at the Trojan Horse, and working as a part-time law clerk at PACCAR during that summer of ’71. In addition, Hilliard volunteered as a board member with the Central Area Mental Health Center for over twenty years, and served as board president for six years. The agency provided mental health services for low-income citizens regardless of their ability to pay. They merged with Therapeutic Health Services in 1990. Along the way his connections at the Chamber led to a consultant gig with Governor Dan Evans administration’s Department of Commerce & Economic Development, where he helped organize a statewide minority business program. The following summer Paccar invited Hilliard to work downtown at their litigation law firm.

Hilliard also volunteered with the UW football coaches’ recruiting program from 1975 to 1990, where he served as liaison with Garfield High School to encourage student athletes to attend the UW and play football for the Huskies. During those years, notable recruits were future City Council member Bruce Harrell, and Anthony Allen, who continued his career in the NFL and later, returned to coach football at Garfield.

Upon earning his law degree in 1974 Hilliard embarked on a two decade-long period of employment in the private sector. At Submarine Base Bangor he was a project manager overseeing 150 employees, and then he became a partner in a telecommunications startup that wound down in 1993. For the next 11 years Hilliard commuted to the State Capitol, working first for the Department of Corrections, then at the Insurance Commissioners Office, and finally at the Employment Security Contracts Office.

Then, when the opportunity arose in 2006 to work a bit closer to home, he took on the managerial role at the Unemployment Insurance Tax office in Lynnwood. Four years later he moved on to a Program manager role at the City of Seattle’s Office of Executive Administration (today’s Office of Finance and Administration) where he managed the business license and tax office until retiring in 2012.

A Lifetime of Music

Throughout a long career at corporations and government agencies, Barney Hilliard proved his love for playing music and commitment to entertaining fans by always keeping a band on the side. Back in 1978 the Four Sounds fell apart and in ’79 Hilliard and Jack Smith (drums) regrouped as the Carousel Band by adding DuWayne Andrews (organ), and later Ed Tinker (guitar/vocals). For bigger gigs they’d bring along trumpeter Larry Lusier or Ed Lee), and sometimes Steve Nowak (guitar). The Carousel Band market niche was private golf clubs, yacht clubs, the Seattle Tennis Club and numerous weddings, where they thrived for over twenty-five years.

It was around 1993 that the group decided to play less of the private club- and private party- circuit, and instead find a local venue where they could be based, and where family and friends could attend. That new home-base would be Seattle’s rollicking New Orleans Café. The six-piece Carousel Rhythm & Blues band – occasionally augmented with Shauna Rogers (vocals) – would become a popular monthly draw there for about five years. It was also Hilliard’s all-time favorite gig because they had their six-piece group with the rich sound of the Hammond B3 organ. But all good things must end, and finally in 2012 Hilliard set down his beloved saxophone and left the music biz. But then, in 2013 – a decade after being saluted as a Life Member of AFM 76-493 – the musicians’ union awarded Hilliard with their 50 Year membership pin. Today, a still active Hilliard enjoys retirement; playing golf and watching his grandchildren grow up.


HERE IS A PRIME EXAMPLE of how the discovery of a vintage artifact can lead to a research quest that uncovers all sorts of interesting – at least to me – information.
An eBay auction recently yielded a set of 13 acetate discs dated 1944–1945. They each have labels from a previously unknown Seattle facility: Aragon Recording Studios (1916 ½ Fourth Avenue). 

It has been known that a local jazz impresario, Art Benson, had run the Aragon Ballroom on that site during the 1940s and 1950s, but the associated studios & record company are brand new factors.

Now, some of these discs are credited to Vern Mallory and his Orchestra, & Mallory himself was certainly a remarkable fellow. He’d arrived in Seattle back in the 1930s, joined the Musicians Union (AFM-76), & rose through the ranks until he was leading his own band – one of the very few white Swing-era bands that played actual jazz. But, even that’s not exactly correct: Mallory was actually one of the few white bandleaders who was also open-minded enough to periodically bring aboard some of Seattle’s top African American players – members of the town’s other racially segregated union (AFM-493) – including Ulysses “Jabo” Ward (sax) & Roscoe Weathers (sax). But regardless of the racial composition of Mallory’s combo at any particular time, they were one of the few bands with any white players who were hip enough to be booked to entertain the mostly black crowds at the Savoy Ballroom (2203 E. Madison Street).
As for Art Benson: in the mid-to-late-'50s he went on to "discover" a number of local talents and bring them to Chet Noland's Celestial label – including rockabilly pioneers (the Maddy Brothers) & one of Seattle's first black rock 'n' roll acts (Joe Boot & the Fabulous Winds) both of whom I've written about previously.

Am still determining exactly the best way to digitize the music contained on these unique & fragile discs, & will report back when that is accomplished…

[NOTE: Vern Mallory Orchestra photo posted courtesy of AFM 76-493.]


AMONG THE MORE INTRIGUING SONG-ORIGIN SAGAS associated with the Pacific Northwest, has got to be Jack McVea’s huge 1947 R&B hit, “Open The Door, Richard!” Formerly a tenor saxophonist with Lionel Hampton’s esteemed jazz band – & a contributor to the recording of their big 1942 hit “Flying Home” – McVea had gone on to form his own combo & hit the road.
Their tour-routes brought McVea through the Northwest on repeated occasions, playing various black-oriented nightspots including Seattle’s Washington Social Club (2302 E Madison Street) & Portland’s Dude Ranch (240 N Broadway) where they built up followings of fans who dug their jazz, jump blues, & early R&B. Such bands could also find work gigging on, or near, military bases by Tacoma, Moses Lake, & Vancouver, Washington.

In his 2005 book, Jumptown: The Golden Years of Portland Jazz (1942-1957), historian Robert Dietsche reveals that McVea’s “act at the Dude was more entertainment than art, full of costumes and comedy routines. While he was playing at the Dude and the Vancouver Barracks, he wrote or actually compiled his biggest hit and one of the best-selling records of the decade, ‘Open The Door Richard!’”
The reason McVea is credited with having “compiled” the song is that – original tune aside – the lyrics (or comedic spoken-word storyline) were based on an old, African-American vaudeville routine. McVea & his band simply revived that stage act, and boosted it with a good rhythm & classic riff. The plot, in short, has the rowdy and inebriated band-members all arriving at home one night in the wee hours, and realizing that while they are locked out, their pal “Richard” is inside sleeping. Much hollering, door-knocking, & general tomfoolery results in a fair amount of low-brow humor.

Recorded by Jack McVea and His Allstars in October 1956 for the cool Los Angeles-based Black & White Records company, the song (with a composer credit of: “McVea-Clarke”) began to get considerable plays on tavern jukeboxes and a few black-oriented radio programs. But when 1947 began, a frenzy suddenly erupted and all sorts of labels and artists produced their own competitive renditions of “Open The Door, Richard!”

A version on National Records by pianist Clinton “Dusty” Fletcher (with Jimmy Jones and his Band) was, on January 31, 1947, the first one to hit Billboard magazine’s Best Seller chart. Tellingly, the disc not only gives composer credit to “Fletcher,” but also – in a manner exuding territorialistic sensitivity about the topic – also asserts that his recording is “By the Originator.”

Next came the Count Basie Orchestra’s disc for RCA Victor (with a composer credit of: “McVea-Clarke) which charted on February 7 and soared to the No. 1 slot; then McVea’s disc hit Billboard on February 14, eventually peaking out at the No. 7 slot; that same day the Three Flames disc for Columbia Records (with a composer credit of: “McVea-F. Clark-Howell”) hit Billboard, peaking at No. 4; then came Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five’s foxtrot version for Decca Records (with a composer credit of: “Jack McVea-Dan Howell-‘Dusty’ Fletcher-John Mason”) debuted in Billboard on March 7, peaking at No. 7. Finally, a version by Walter Brown (and the Tiny Grimes Sextet) was issued by Signature Records (with a composer credit of: “McVea-Clark-Howell”) – though about a dozen additional recordings of the tune would soon follow.

When the Duchess Music Corporation published and marketed sheet music for the song in 1947, it listed these credits: “Words by ‘Dusty’ Fletcher and John Mason / Music by Jack McVea and Dan Howell.” Makes one ponder who all these Clarke, Clark, Mason, and Howell dudes were...maybe song-publishing / music biz lawyers? Regardless, with all this action going on it is no wonder that lawsuits broke out over the song’s theoretically lucrative authorship.

In the end, it was Fletcher who won rights to the song – but it was McVea’s disc that earned credit for a couple significant achievements. Historians believe that it was the very first recording to feature a purposeful fade-out ending, and – because various other artists recorded thematically responsive novelty songs, such as Stepin Fetchit’s “Richard’s Answer (I Ain’t Gonna Open That Door)” for Apollo Records – “Open The Door, Richard!” is noted for having sparked the fad of producing so-called “answer songs.”

Meanwhile, when McVea’s band returned to Seattle in 1948 they performed at Sy Groves’ Washington Social Club. Paul deBarro’s 1993 jazz history book, Jackson Street Afterhours, quotes local jazz bassist, Wyatt “Bull” Ruther, recalling that during this period: “If you couldn’t play the blues, you couldn’t play in Seattle. That was during the time when the smaller bands would be patterning themselves after Louis Jordan’s band. There was Jack McVea and his ‘Open The Door, Richard.’ Everybody did that one. You had to entertain.”

The trio that was hired to open this 1948 McVea show was new on the Seattle scene, having just been formed by two cats fresh in town from the south – guitarist Garcia McKee & a blind young pianist/singer, Ray Robinson – who’d hired a bassist, Milt Garred, through Seattle’s “Negro Musicians’ Union” AFM Local # 493. McVea was quite impressed by the Maxin Trio & later, when back in Los Angeles, he mentioned them to black record executive, Jack Lauderdale. 

Long-story-short, within weeks Lauderdale raced up to Seattle, heard the trio, quickly took them into a downtown studio, & produced what would be the very first bluesy disc ever cut in Seattle and released commercially – “Confession Blues” – which was issued on his Down Beat label. By ’49 Lauderdale was convinced that it was the singer he really wanted to work with, & after the young musician adopted his first and middle names as a new stage name – Ray Charles – he went on to global fame as the “Genius of Soul.” For his part, McVea carried on, recording for Black & White, and touring the “chitlin’ circuit” with his newly renamed band: Jack McVea & His Door Openers.


WITH THE BOEING AIRPLANE COMPANY in the news a lot these days – mainly because of the firm’s increasing disloyalty to its historic hometown of Seattle while once-again attempting to extort zillion$ in tax breaks from the State of Washington, and additional concessions from its workforce (by threatening to take more work out-of-state) – I figured it was timely to gaze back and recall happier times. Like, ironically, the Great Depression when the Boeing Band used to perform for outbound passengers and spectators alike in free concerts given at Boeing Field’s airplane terminal. Comprised of musically inclined Boeing pilots (on 4 saxophones, a trumpet, clarinet, tuba, and guitar), the octet was photographed in 1931 by ACME Newspictures Inc. – and I was lucky enough to unearth this vintage photographic print – which was originally distributed with the suggested caption headline: “There’s Music In The Air.”


THE SEATTLE SCENE has nurtured numerous world-class drummers over the years – just consider Skip Moore’s cracklin’ rimshot work on The Ventures’ 1960 global hit “Walk—Don’t Run,” or Dave Grohl’s supercharging of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in 1991. But local audiences have also been exposed to other ace tub-thumpers who came touring through the area, from Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich and their various bigbands, to Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, & Santana's Michael Shrieve. Still, a good case can be argued that perhaps the most astounding drummer of all time was Gene Krupa (1909-1973) – & at his 1930s-1940s prime he played Seattle at least five times.
Rising up through Chicago’s Prohibition Era jazz scene, in 1934 Krupa joined one of the most high-profile ensembles of its day: the Benny Goodman (1909-1986) band. The first time that Krupa hit Seattle, he appeared with Goodman at the Trianon Ballroom (218 Wall Street).

The Seattle Times’ Lenny Anderson, who attended the show, later described that evening: “The Trianon had subdued lights in bunting that ballooned from a low ceiling, overstuffed furniture on the raised portion that bordered the floor, and the band shell at the north end of the hall. …When it was time for the music to start, a skinny college kid named Norm Bobrow [1917-2008] walked to the microphone and said it was the
thrill of a lifetime to introduce Benny Goodman. Then Goodman smiled his familiar, half-embarrassed grin and played the opening clarinet passage of ‘Let’s Dance’ into a roar of approval from the crowd and against the free-swinging background of the band. It was a 15-piece band that included the likes of Harry James, Gene Krupa, Ziggy Elman and…Jess Stacy on the piano. At intermission, Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton joined Goodman and Krupa in the quartet. …A few scattered couples jitterbugged but most of the crowd was standing, pressing in upon the bandstand. When the band played its big numbers such as ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’…it was almost worth your life to be standing in the front row, jammed in against the bandstand by the crowd behind.”
And it was that hit song, “Sing, Sing, Sing,” which is remembered by history for containing what are thought to be the very first extended drum solos ever cut for a commercial recording. People loved Goodman’s records, but live in person, Krupa’s drumming simply drove their audiences wild. It also brought Krupa’s legions of fans back to see his own bigband at the Trianon when he made return appearances here on: May 24, 1940; September 5, 1941; March 11, 1946; & May 26, 1949.

It was at that 1946 gig when a young Seattle photographer named Mike Michel captured some action shots of Krupa. At the time, Michel worked for the Photo Flash Picture Company which was based in the Wilhard Hotel Building (711 Union Street). His job was to shoot pictures of various attendees and then hurry that film to “an onsite dark-room. There the negative would be rushed in developing the image, quickly cleared and the wet negative put in an enlarger to print…the exposed print was then put through a similar rush process, put on a hot tin to dry, put in a folder and then delivered to” those same customers within twenty minutes – at which point they paid the photographer $1.25 for this souvenir of their memorable evening out on the town. But in this instance, Michel didn’t sell the photos to Krupa, he instead had the star autograph some of them & he held onto them – until recently, when I acquired them.