Posts Tagged ‘RCA’

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The 8-Track Nightmare

October 20, 2011

If you’re over 50 you most likely had, back in the late 60’s and 70’s, a tape case sitting in the back seat of your car filled with 8 Track Tapes. You remember those, the boxy looking, cheaply made, cheaply produced (but at album prices or higher) cartridges that were almost required to have. Even car companies spent a number of years of installing them from the factory.

The concept, originally known as Stereo 8, is a magnetic tape sound recording technology. The 8 Track was created by a consortium of Lear Jet, Ampex, Ford, General Motors and RCA. Ford started made them factory-installed starting in 1965 on three of their car models, Mustang, Lincoln, Thunderbird) and that same year RCA jumpstarted 8 Track production by releasing 175 8 Tracks from it’s RCA Victor catalogue.

After I started driving I of course bought an 8 Track player for every car I owned. The last, and best one, was made by Craig. I bought at Far East Audio in Wooster, OH. I can also remember installing 8 Track players in many, many cars owned by friends & acquaintances.

 

In short, even though I had probably amassed a collection of over 200 of them, they sucked. The production/audio quality was rank, the cartridges themselves were cheap and easily broken and how many of us drove around shoving matchbooks under the tape to make it play correctly? The movable head design was flawed as it was unable to maintain head alignment.

How many 8 Track tapes did you buy, unwrapped, put in your player, and it either wouldn’t play or squealed like a stuck pig? That many, huh? Me, too!

With cassettes taking over during the latter 70’s and then finally CDs appearing circa 1982, the 8 Track cartridge as a concept came to an end. Thankfully. Of course, millions of people had millions of 8 Tracks collecting dust as the conversion to cassettes and then CDs made them obsolete.

The last mainstream 8 Track cartridges were produced in 1988, in limited quantities, with Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits considered the last. However, in 2009 Cheap Trick released a limited edition version of their The Latest album.

And yes, I still have an 8 Track home player (at the end of the 70’s I had three of them) and a handful of 8 Track tapes stashed away.

 

Why? I have no idea!

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Gene Carroll Show Remembered

October 13, 2008
Akron's Chrissie Hynde appeared on the Gene Carroll Show in the early 70's with her band JACK RABBIT before heading back off to England to eventually form The Pretenders.

Akron’s Chrissie Hynde appeared on the Gene Carroll Show in the early 70’s with her Akron-Kent based band JACK RABBIT before heading back off to England to eventually form The Pretenders.

Anyone who lived in northeast Ohio during the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s is more than likely well aware of the Gene Carroll Show, a local variety/talent show that aired from April 1948 until sometime in 1979. First known as the Giant Tiger Amateur Hour, Carroll (April 1897 – March 1972) quickly morphed it into the Gene Carroll Show that aired every Sunday at noon and featured, well, ‘talent’. Some good, a lot of them bad and some of them very, very bad. I can imagine the line of pushy wanna-be stage mothers hauling their next superstars to Cleveland for their big break.

 

I didn’t watch it too often, too many accordion players for my tastes, too many baton-twirling majorettes and too many five-year-old tap dancers trying to become the next Shirley Temple, but the show had its moments as it occasionally presented local and regional rock bands. Think of the Gene Carroll Show, which was a big hit on WEWS TV 5, as a forerunner of American Idol.

 

The show is noted, however, for the first ever television performance of the Cowsill brothers in 1960, a few years prior to the family becoming ‘The Cowsills’.  Other notables who appeared included The Womack Brothers (Bobby Womack), U.S. Male, Jill Colucci who is a well-known songwriter, Candice Francisco, Canada’s The Crew Cuts and Jack Rabbit, an Akron-Kent area rock band featuring Chrissie Hynde prior to her return to England and eventual formation of The Pretenders.

 

Andrea Carroll (no relation to the host), who appeared semi-regularly on the show for about a decade, is now known as Andrea Hill, Ph.D., MFT. But during the 60’s, after a local release, she eventually landed recording contracts with labels like RCA, Epic and United Artists and toured with the likes of Stevie Wonder. She had several hits, especially locally, including Why Am I So Shy? That was recorded at age 16 with The Chiffons providing backing vocals.

 

I can vaguely remember one or two area bands from the Wayne County and Ashland County, Ohio appearing in the late 60’s and early 70’s but for the life of me I can’t remember the band names. I am almost positive one from Wooster appeared (Me & The Guys, maybe?).
Gene Carroll died in 1972 but WEWS standby star Don Webster, late of the popular Upbeat TV Show, took over as host and it stayed on the air until 1979.
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Gene Carroll Show mainstay Andrea Carroll's Big Top Records release in the early 60's.

Gene Carroll Show mainstay Andrea Carroll’s Big Top Records release in the early 60’s.

 

 

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