Born Archibald Martin Bleyer, 12 June 1909, Corona, New York
Bandleader / arranger / producer / label owner. Born into an established New York family, Archie Bleyer began playing piano by age seven. He enrolled at Columbia University in 1927 as an electrical engineering student (an interest that aided him later in the studio), but switched to music by his sophomore year and left school to be a musical arranger. By 1934, Bleyer had his own big band that played regularly in the New York area and featured Johnny Mercer (who later founded Capitol Records) on vocals. In the late 40's Bleyer became musical director of "Arthur Godfrey and Friends" on radio and then on television. He milked the Godfrey connection for all it was worth when he founded Cadence Records in 1952 in order to record Godfrey mainstay Julius LaRosa, the Chordettes and other talent from Godfrey's two shows (the second, Talent Scouts, had come on the air in 1948). LaRosa, a traditional pop singer, recorded the first eight singles for Cadence and hit right away with "Anywhere I Wonder", which reached # 4 on the Billboard pop chart in 1953. Having judiciously plucked talent from the shows, Bleyer left Godfrey in 1953 to concentrate on his label. Bleyer's own orchestra had two big hits in 1954, the well-known tango "Hernando's Hideaway" (# 2) and "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane" (# 17). On those hits and on the Chordettes' (a female harmony quartet featuring Bleyer's future wife Janet Ertel) "Mr. Sandman" (# 1), Bleyer's talents as a producer began to come to the fore. He brought an engineer's precision and a musician's feel to his productions. Besides the importance of his own work, Bleyer's influence has been felt through the efforts of his most important follower, Phil Spector. Spector held Cadence as a model for his own Philles label and followed Bleyer's credo of quality, not quantity. Cadence never had a large roster of artists, and it put out records judiciously so that each one could be worked to achieve its full potential. Bleyer spent as long as it took to find the right material for his artists, and even then would not hesitate to dump a session that didn't meet his standards. In 1957, Bleyer met with Wesley Rose of publishing giant Acuff-Rose in an effort to recruit talent in the country field and came away with Anita Carter, Gordon Terry, and the Everly Brothers. Much to everyone's surprise, "Bye Bye Love" (a Boudleaux & Felice Bryant composition that had been rejected by 30 artists before the Everly Brothers recorded it), the Everly's first release on Cadence, became a huge crossover hit that reached # 2 on the pop chart and # 1 on the country chart. Everly hits like "Bye Bye Love", "Wake Up Little Susie" and "Problems" proved that the acoustic guitar is a rock' n' roll instru- ment and paved the way for the power strumming of the '60s. In 1958, Cadence contributed further to rock 'n' roll history by issuing Link Wray's instrumental hit "Rumble" (# 16), his only release on the label (though allegedly an entire LP of material was recorded) and by far the hardest rock song that the label ever released. In 1962-63, Cadence sold more than four million copies of Vaughn Meader's "The First Family", a comedy album about the Kennedy clan. Other successful artists on Cadence were Andy Williams (until 1961), Johnny Tillotson and Lenny Welch. By 1964, with most of his talent signed to major label deals, the 55-year old Bleyer felt out of touch with the lurching changes of the record industry and decided to liquidate the Cadence label. Andy Williams wanted to buy the masters of his own material. Bleyer was willing to sell, but only if Williams bought the entire catalog. Williams agreed. At the time, Williams was recording for Columbia, and he began reissuing some of the Cadence material on Columbia. Later Williams started the Barnaby label for the purposes of reissuing Cadence masters and other new material. Archie Bleyer died from Parkinson's disease in 1989.
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