Enoch Light Biography

Enoch Henry Light, 18 August 1905, Canton, Ohio, USA, d. 31 July 1978, New York City, New York, USA. Tagged Enoch Light And His Light Brigade, Light’s dance band recorded a number of original compositions for Bluebird Records, Vocalion Records and RCA Records during their lifetime. These included ‘Rio Junction’, ‘The Daddy Of Them All’, ‘Big Band Bossa’, ‘Private Eye Suite’, ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Daniel Boone’, as well as their theme tune, ‘You Are My Lucky Star’. Many of these were novelty affairs themed after popular characters and occupations of the day, but all were performed with skill and verve. Light had originally attended Johns Hopkins University before establishing the band in the late-20s, with the intention of playing the hotel and ballroom circuit with their sweet, highly commercial music. In the early 30s the band toured Europe, before returning to the US for dates at the Taft Hotel in New York. Light also enjoyed enormous popularity on radio during this period. The early 40s saw the Light Brigade switch direction to swing, shortly before their leader retired from band leading to concentrate on a career as a manager.

In the early 50s Light made a career move which, ultimately, would lead to him being remembered in the history of popular music as more than just a purveyor of sweet dance band music. In 1954 he became president of Waldorf Music Hall Records, a label that issued cheap 10-inch albums for sale through the Woolworths store. Two years later Light set up Grand Award, many of whose recordings were stereo sound recordings of staples of the big band era engineered and performed by a personnel list including Light, arranger Lew Davies, trombonist Bobby Byrne, and pianist Dick Hyman, the latter often under the alias Knuckles O’Toole. In 1959 Light inaugurated Command Records, with the aim of pursuing his interest in the burgeoning market for stereo sound. Though he employed top-notch musicians such as Hyman and guitarist Tony Mottola, Light’s own production work on the label’s pop percussion albums was the instrumental factor in popularising left-right channelization. Command’s releases were precisely engineered masterpieces that never resorted to the cheap audio effects employed by other studios.

The label’s debut release, 1959’s Persuasive Percussion, remains one of the biggest-selling albums in the history of the US charts, remaining in the number 1 position for 13 weeks. The album also set the style for future releases - a bold abstract design by artist Josef Albers, and a gatefold sleeve containing verbose liner notes by Light himself. Light continued to experiment in the studio, recording 1961’s Stereo 35/MM on 35mm film instead of tape, dramatically reducing sound distortion in the process. The album was another huge success, topping the US album chart for seven weeks. Light sold Command to ABC Records in 1965, and instantly disassociated himself from the cost cutting antics of the new major label owners. He set up Project 3 Records with many of his loyal staff from Command and continued to oversee the release of beautifully designed and recorded easy listening albums until his retirement in 1974.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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