Thursday, January 8, 2015
By The Time They Get To Phoenix (Part one)
Reprinted article published by Billboard (September 14, 1959)
Local Disk Scene Shook Up By Lormar Distrib Invasion
Former Rackets Committee Target Seen Eying West Coast Pastures
PHOENIX, Ariz. — Lormar Distributors, the Chicago one-stop with a rich history of hoodlum connections and strong-arm pressure in selling disks to juke box operators, is backing a major attempt to establish a distribution beachhead here. The move is believed to be a stepping stone to distribution on the West Coast.
Lormar, headed by Charles (Chuck) English who, with his brother (Butch) English, was hailed before the McClellan Labor Rackets Commitee - is behind the opening of Flash Distributors in Phoenix, headed by Joe English. Flash is operating as both a distributor and one-stop. It has already obtained distribution of Roulette, Prestige, Savoy and King lines, and is making a strong bid for ABC-Paramount and M-G-M. Merchandise on other labels is being shipped to Flash via air express from Lormar in Chicago.
Other distributors are openly puzzled as to how Flash can afford to bear the cost of air express shipments daily from its parent one-stop, which in turn, must presumably buy its merchandise from distributors. But the technique is enabling Flash to provide dealers with speedy service that even their territorial distributors —some located in El Paso — cannot match. One distributor of a major label has told Phoenix tradesters that as a feeler be offered to sell singles to Flash for 42 cents and was "laughed out of the place" by Joe English. The distributor has said he is at a loss to explain where Flash or Lormar is getting its merchandise.
All retailers in Phoenix except one, who was ill, met 10 days ago to ponder the entrance of Flash in their market. They "more or less" agreed according to a trade source to shy away from the new outfit. But it is known that the temptation of fast shipments at competitive prices is breaking down resistance with some of them. Flash reportedly has made hurricane progress in taking over juke box sales all over Arizona and is making inroads on the Coast.
Joe English has been active in promoting a single disk employing methods which have set radio stations on their guard. The program director of one station told the Billboard that English has called three weeks consecutively to announce he expected to see a chart listing the following week for ABC-Paramount's "Livin' Doll" by Cliff Richard. When the program director said that dealers were not reporting sales on it, English is said to have replied that he expected a listing anyhow. Other than that the program director said the conversations did not contain any "threat."
The puzzling fact to local tradesters is "that Flash does not distribute ABC-Paramount on which the Cliff Richard disk appears". This gave rise to local theories that Flash is out to show ABC-Paramount its effectiveness as a distributor. In New York, ABC-Paramount sales manager, Larry Newton, confirmed to The Billboard that Flash has made a formal bid for distribution of the label. Newton said that as long as Flash is a one-stop he sees no reason to discourage them from "knocking themselves out working for our records." He declined to comment on whether he was considering a switch to Flash from his present distributor, Frontier, in El Paso. Jack Williams, the Mayor of Phoenix, and owner of radio station KOY told The Billboard that he received a complaint that Flash is "employing threats" and his office is looking into the charge.
Early in 1958, Lormar's Chuck English was arrested in Chicago and charged with possession of bootlegged disks, products of a large scale bootleg operation uncovered there. Arrested at the ame time was George Hilger, charged with engineering the bootlegging. English was subsequently freed when he disclaimed knowledge that the disks were counterfeit. He told The Billboard during the investigation that he head no knowledge of Hilger. Later inquiries by The Billboard uncovered the fact that Hilger's sister had formerly been employed by Lormar listed as an officer on its original papers on incorporation. She was married to English's assistant Bill McGuire. Hilger later received a suspended sentence and a small fine for unauthorized duplication of trademark.