The first of Jack Lauderdale’s labels came to fruition in 1947 after he’d gotten his start distributing other small mostly West Coast labels for the Los Angeles market. While bluesman Lowell Fulson was recording for the Big Town label out of Oakland, that company’s owner Bob Geddins seeking to expand his territorial reach for the material he was cutting, leased alternate takes to Lauderdale who released them in Los Angeles under his own newly established Down Beat label, most of which consisted of re-issues of other labels material.

When Fulson’s contract with Big Town was up he jumped to Lauderdale’s company (under various names) where he remained through 1952, becoming his biggest selling and most prolific artist.

Though having relatively few artists the Down Beat label cast a wide net in quality black music from the guitar blues of Fulson to the jazzy blues of Jay McShann and the young Ray Charles who cut his first professional sides for Down Beat in the cocktail blues vein, securing his first hit with under the name of his band, The Maxin Trio in 1949.

When Down Beat magazine, the country’s leading jazz chronicler, threatened to sue over the name in 1949 Lauderdale changed it initially to Swing Beat, then settling on Swing Time by 1950, keeping the same distinctive label art work and merely switching the artists to it (though that will be dealt with here as its own label).

Lauderdale was widely seen as one of the better independent record label owners, having a genuine love for the music and a respect for the artists, even though like most he rarely if ever paid royalties. The biggest names he recorded, from Fulson to Charles, all spoke well of him long after he folded his operations in 1953 and went into the hotel business.

DOWN BEAT DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

BIG JOE TURNER: Wine-O-Baby Boogie (3) (Down Beat 152; December, 1948)
BIG JOE TURNER: Baby, Won’t You Marry Me (3) (Down Beat 154; January, 1949)
PETE JOHNSON: Skid Row Boogie (6) (Down Beat 168; February, 1949)
PETE JOHNSON: Half Tight Boogie (2) (Down Beat 168; February, 1949)