HISTORY AND DISCOGRAPHY

 

Los Angeles based independent label begun by Don Nelson and two partners in 1945, one of whom was Bill McCall, who like many record company men of the 1940’s had originally operating a pressing plant and segued into starting their own label.

Nelson had owned Gilt-Edge which had scored a huge seller with Cecil Gant’s “I Wonder” in 1944 and wanted to branch out with another label but by late 1946 McCall had bought out his partners when their finances went south.

4 Star initially recorded Latin and hillbilly music, but it was primarily the latter where they made their name, specifically with T. Texas Tyler who had a string of huge hits for them.

By all accounts McCall was the biggest crook in the independent record field, which is saying something! He routinely stole writing credits (620 of them to be exact!), refusing to pay artists their royalties, then refusing to release them to record elsewhere when they wanted to leave if he wouldn’t pay what was owed them. Even his own employees hated him as he went back on his buyout deal with remaining minority owner (and their top record promotion man) Don Pierce in an underhanded attempt to get him to keep working there. Only after King Records Syd Nathan threatened to pull out of a distribution deal for 4 Star’s line did McCall live up to the agreement with Pierce.

Though primarily a country label with Maddox Brothers and Rose, Webb Pierce and later Patsy Cline all hitting big for them (Cline’s records appeared on other labels, but McCall owned them and forced her to record songs whose publishing he controlled), McCall’s involvement with rock came via his buying of Ivory Joe Hunter’s defunct Pacific Records catalog, giving him a #1 hit with one of the sides when it was re-released on 4 Star. He also recorded Nelson’s original hit-maker Cecil Gant after first re-issuing HIS material from other labels as well.

Normally a company with such a limited rock output wouldn’t necessarily warrant a page here but any opportunity to bad mouth one of the most despicable men in the music business is too good to pass up.
 
 
 
4 STAR RECORDS REVIEWED TO DATE ON SPONTANEOUS LUNACY:


 
IVORY JOE HUNTER: Pretty Mama Blues (7) (Pacific 637; Re-issued as 4-Star 1254; April, 1948)