HISTORY AND DISCOGRAPHY

 

Los Angeles independent record company began in 1947 that had a solid roster of artists and some notable successes in its short lifespan, but despite some big names their rock output wasn’t what connected.

Atlantic Records wasn’t the only 1940’s independent label which owed its formation to money made in the field of orthodontics, as Supreme Records was owned and operated by Al Patrick, a dentist by trade, whose label became a welcome home to black artists from all fields.

They notched two huge sellers, the biggest of which was bluesman Jimmy Witherspoon’s “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”, a two part record which topped the R&B Charts in 1949 and despite the scant number of spots available remained on those charts for an astounding 34 weeks, the longest run of any blues record in Billboard history.

The other hit brought a soon-to-be-common occurrence into the spotlight as Paula Watson went to #2 on the Race Charts, and 6 on the Pop Charts, with a hybrid sounding “A Little Bird Told Me”, which had rock elements mixed amidst more of a novelty pop song replete with her chirping after some refrains.

When white pop artist Evelyn Knight covered this record and scored a #1 Pop hit, Patrick sued for copyright infringement, which they lost. The decision itself, while perhaps legally justified, was tainted by the racist judge who claimed that the white version was superior (as if that would matter to the legal issues even if it were true), downplaying every aspect of the black original in his statement, thus opening the door not just for allowing white pop covers of black rock, but also validating their “artistic improvements”, a mindset that would exist for another decade.

The court case hurt Patrick, who was also African-American which certainly factored into the judge’s outrageous claims, if not his decision, and another lawsuit, this time over distribution of its records in Canada by the Black & White label which cost them their American distribution deal with Black & White, were too much for Supreme to withstand and it ceased operations in 1950, selling off its masters.

The company’s rock output resulted in no major sellers, but some good records by important names nonetheless including saxophonist Big Jim Wynn, Percy Mayfield and Floyd Dixon, who at the time was the featured pianist and vocalist with Eddie Williams And His Brown Buddies.

Supreme, despite their brief four year run, wound up making both a musical dent and an even deeper, if unsatisfactory dent, in the legal world when it came to the machinations of the recording industry.
 
 
 
SUPREME RECORDS DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):
 
BIG JIM WYNN: Blow Wynn Blow (5) (Supreme 1509; November, 1948)
BIG JIM WYNN: J.W. Bop (3) (Supreme 1509; November, 1948)
BIG JIM WYNN: Goofin’ Off (3) (Supreme 1522; June, 1949)
EDDIE WILLIAMS & HIS BROWN BUDDIES: Houston Jump (5) (Supreme 1528; June, 1949)
EDDIE WILLIAMS & HIS BROWN BUDDIES: Blues In Cuba (6) (Supreme 1528; June, 1949)
EARL JACKSON: Woman Don’t Want A Good Man No More (5) (Supreme 1532; August, 1949)
EDDIE WILLIAMS & HIS BROWN BUDDIES: Red Head ‘N’ Cadillac (8) (Supreme 1535; August, 1949)
EDDIE WILLIAMS & HIS BROWN BUDDIES: Broken Hearted (3) (Supreme 1535; August, 1949)
PERCY MAYFIELD: Two Years Of Torture (7) (Supreme 1543; September, 1949)
PERCY MAYFIELD: Half Awoke (7) (Supreme 1543; September, 1949)