One of the first long-lasting, though not very successful, independent labels operated by a working musician as former Lionel Hampton trumpeter Jake Porter started Combo Records in the fall of 1951 to give an outlet for his own records, but more importantly to tap into the buzzing Los Angeles rock scene. With himself and a cast of veteran songwriters and musicians, the label had the musical side of the equation covered but had trouble getting enough artists. The few they did manage to secure stayed with them a long time, some leaving and coming back, knowing they’d be able to get a few releases whenever no other opportunities were available.

Their most prolific output came with sax instrumentals, notably Joe Houston, who had multiple stops with the company, and Chuck Higgins whose “Pachuko Hop” was one of their best sellers, particularly in the Latino community that was heavily supportive of the city’s rock scene throughout the decade.

Combo’s misfortune was that the few acts they had who might break them out of their status as a minor local imprint were quickly lost, as Johnny “Guitar” Watson had recorded with Higgins and thus wasn’t under contract himself and soon headed elsewhere under his own volition.

Two years later Gene & Eunice, the vocal duo who gave them their biggest national hit, were immediately stolen from them by Aladdin who’d had Gene Forrest under contract as a solo act and insisted that gave them exclusive rights to him. Consequently he and Eunice Levy had to re-record “Ko Ko Mo” for that company just after it began to break out in early 1955. Though the official hit was still credited to Combo, chances are at least half, if not more, of the action came on Aladdin.

Porter hung in there until 1961, giving him a solid ten year run in operation, which is longer than most labels could claim, but with so few acts sometimes there were long stretches where only one artist got releases, making their catalog rather barren.
COMBO RECORDS DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed On Spontaneous Lunacy):

JAKE PORTER (ft. DOROTHY ELLIS): Slowly Go Out Of Your Mind (2) (Combo 1; October, 1951)
CHUCK HIGGINS: Pachuko Hop (6) (Combo 12; December, 1952)
CHUCK HIGGINS (ft. JOHN WATSON): Motor Head Baby (8) (Combo 12; December, 1952)