Tuesday, April 25, 2006

LABELOBIT: Phil Walden

The death has been announced of Phil Walden, the founder of Capricorn Records.

Walden started out as a manager - he represented Otis Redding, Sam and Dave and Percy Sledge amongst others - but in 1967 he attempted to persuade Atlantic to fund a studio in Maconn, Georgia. Jerry Wexler, then head of Atlantic, persuaded him to helm a label instead. Capricorn was born, starting with Duane Allman and Johnny Jenkins.

A decision to swap distributors in the mid-70s (from Atlantic to Warners), coupled with the disbanding of their lucrative Allman Brothers and a bit of a lean period saw the label hit a financial rough patch. Another change of distro (this time Polygram) failed to lift performance, with Capricorn going bust in 1980. It was the start of a grim period personally for Walden as well.

After beating addictions and depression, Walden persuaded Warners to fund a revival of Capricorn in 1990. Relocated to Athens, Georgia, the label at first pursued a policy of new signings - led by Widespread Panic - but then, funded by the sale of 50% of the company to Mercury, Capricorn started to reissue its legacy recordings.

Walden had fought a long battle with cancer. He died Sunday, aged 66.


Anonymous said...

It should be noted that Phil Walden was not the "founder" of Capricorn Records but Co-founder, with his partner, Frank Fenter, who was his partner and his role was essential to the success of Capricorn Records.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right. Frank Fenter died I believe in the late 70's or early 80's. I worked with both of them for 8 years.

Anonymous said...

it should also be noted that some bitter individual seems hell bent on dissing phil walden on every site i visit and singing the praises of some dead guy named frank fenton.

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