Capitol Records was founded by songwriter Johnny Mercer in 1942. He had the financial help of movie producer Buddy DeSylva, and the business acumen of Glenn Wallichs, owner of Music City, the biggest record store in Los Angeles, California. Capitol was the first West Coast label, competing with RCA-Victor, Columbia and Decca in New York. In addition to its Los Angeles recording studio Capitol had a second studio in New York City, and on occasion sent mobile recording equiptment to New Orleans, Louisiana and other cities.
The earliest recording artists included Paul Whiteman, Martha Tilton, and Ella Mae Morse. Capitol's first gold single was Moorse's "Cow Cow Boogie" in 1942. By 1946 Capitol had sold 42 million records and was established as one of the Big Six studios. In 1950 Capitol built its own studio on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood.
By the mid-1950s Capitol had become a huge company, concentrating on popular music. Its roster included Nat King Cole, Stan Kenton, Peggy Lee, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Nelson Riddle. It started a subsidiary label "Angel Records" for classical music; most of the recordings were recorded in Europe and pressed from masters leased from European lables.
The Capitol Tower
The Capitol Records building is one of the most distinctive landmarks in Hollywood, California. The 13-storey earthquake-resistant tower, designed by Welton Becket, was the world's first circular office building. The wide curved awnings over windows on each storey and the tall spike emerging from the top of the building combine to give it the appearance of a stack of vinyl 45s on a turntable. The rectangular ground floor is a separate structure, joined to the tower after it was completed. It was built in 1956 just north of the intersection of Hollywood and Vine.
The merger of Capitol Records and EMI created an even more powerful label, which has been home to such acts as The Beatles, the Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Bob Seger, Duran Duran, Bonnie Raitt, Robbie Robertson, Steve Miller, Tina Turner, the Beastie Boys, and Garth Brooks.