I feel compelled to write about Archie Bleyer not just because he gave ‘Rumble’ its big break but also because he had a tremendous impact on rock and roll in his own right.
Archie Bleyer was born in 1909 in the borough of Queens in New York City. In the 1920s he would first study electrical engineering and then music at Columbia University. In the 1930s he would move to the west coast performing with his own band in Hollywood. In the 1940s he would lead the orchestra for the Arthur Godfrey television and radio programs. He would be best known for scoring hits in 1954 with ‘Hernando’s Hideaway’ (a great instrumental version would later be done by The Ventures) and ‘The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane.’
In 1952, Archie founded Cadence Records which was located in Manhattan. It’s first recording artist was Julius LaRosa. Cadence would go on to sign The Chordettes who are best known for their hit ‘Mr. Sandman’, Bleyer would eventually marry one of their singers Janet. He also signed The Everly Brothers who had hits on Cadence with ‘Bye Bye Love’ and ‘Wake Up Little Susie’. Andy Williams was also one of his biggest stars on the label.
In 1958, through the urging of Archie’s daughter ‘Rumble’ was released as the B side for ‘The Swag’. Originally ‘Rumble’ was titled ‘Oddball’ and would be changed it is believed because Archie’s daughter thought it was reminiscent of the fights in West Side Story. This raucous association would lead to the song being banned from airplay on many stations. Despite this fact it would go on to be Link’s highest charting single. Link would only have the one 45 released on Cadence before he would leave the label. This 45 would have the catalog number Cadence 1347. Link Wray and The Raymen did record many other tunes while on the Cadence label but would not be released until many years later.
In 1964 when it was decided to close Cadence, it was Andy Williams who would buy the label’s catalog and form his own Barnaby Records. This acquisition began as Andy merely wanted to buy his own material. Thankfully for Link Wray fans some of his material was not included in the sale and would later be released through Rollercoaster Records. Included in these recordings would be originals of ‘Rawhide’, ‘Comanche’, and ‘Pancho Villa’ for example. Also a great stroll titled ‘Walkin’ with Link.’
Unfortunately Archie Bleyer felt that Link Wray was too raw and edgy for commercial success and the two often feuded over direction. Archie would release Link from his contract with Cadence and in 1959 ‘Raw-Hide’ would be released on the Epic label.
Archie Bleyer retired from the music business to Sheboygan, Wisconsin which was his wife’s hometown. In 1989 he would die from the effects of Parkinson’s Disease. Archie Bleyer as the founder of Cadence Records will always have a secure place in rock history.
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