OKeh Preface

Discography of OKeh Records, 1918-1934, compiled by Ross Laird and Brian Rust.

This volume sets out to document as fully as possible all recordings made in the United States by the Otto Heineman Phonograph Supply Company, Inc., the General Phonograph Corporation, or the OKeh Phonograph Corporation for release on the OKeh and Odeon labels between 1918 and 1934.

No attempt is made to document the many foreign (mainly European) recordings which were also released on OKeh and Odeon during this period, or the later recordings made by the American Record Corporation (1933-1934), or the recordings released on the revived OKeh label from mid-1940 into the 1960s. These later manifestations of the OKeh label would more appropriately be dealt with separately.

The original OKeh label was one of the most important labels in the development of the record industry during the period in the 1920s when the emerging trends in jazz, blues, folk, ethnic, country and popular music were in most cases being recorded for the first time. Indeed, it is Okeh's recording of Mamie Smith singing "Crazy Blues" which is usually quoted as the first blues record.

The repertoire preserved on OKeh and Odeon records between 1918 and 1934 is amongst the finest of any record label from this period. In fact the number of outstanding recordings in the jazz, blues, ethnic, country and popular fields is so overwhelming that it is difficult to give any meaningful indication of its range and depth just by quoting a few names. Suffice it to say that in the jazz field alone the OKeh catalog includes some of the best recorded examples from the 1920s of the work of Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Clarence Williams, Duke Ellington, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Miff Mole, Frankie Trumbauer, Johnny Dodds, Luis Russell and many other great performers in that idiom. In other genres the situation is similar.

From mid-1923 OKeh also undertook a very active program of field recording expeditions which in many cases for the first time documented a wide range of performers in the jazz, blues, country and ethnic fields, many of whom were not otherwise recorded.

The information in this volume has as far as possible been based on primary sources such as the original company files (covering mainly the period 1926-1933), data obtained from examination of OKeh and Odeon records (essential in the period before 1926 for which few original company files survive), and contemporary trade publications, catalogs, and other company promotional materials.

For details of many original recordings I was not able to examine personally I wish to thank the many collectors and archives who generously provided data missing from my files. These people are mentioned in the acknowledgements on the following page. Full information on the various materials consulted during research for this volume or which I can suggest as sources for further reading are cited in the bibliography on page iv.

Any additional information would be welcome and any details not already contained in this volume, especially matrix details for the untraced records listed on pp. 701 can be sent to GPO Box 22, Canberra, A.C.T., 2601, Australia.

Ross Laird, Canberra, Australia

Brian Rust, Swanage, England


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Table of Contents | Tables | Bibliography

Discography of OKeh Records, 1918-1934 . Compiled by Ross Laird and Brian Rust. Reprinted by permission.