The Beat Goes On
The Beat Goes On
Whether on gramophone records, phonograph records, or simply records, the popularity of recorded music exploded with the invention of vinyl records.
Up until 1951, 78 rpm-mastered records were made of a brittle shellac material, but in 1951 inventor Ewing Dunbar Nunn founded Audiophile Records and manufactured recorded music in micro-grooves and pressed on vinyl. The change made it possible to preserve and play music in a much more durable form, ushering in the hey days of pop radio and my own career as a disc jockey.
I began playing records on the radio as a disc jockey, and I did record hops with a simple 45 rpm record player and sound system. It was 1961, and the music of American rock was sweeping the country. I would get as many as 700 kids at a dance in an exhibition hall that also served as a roller rink. It was the age of Rock ‘n Roll, and teens came to dance to their favorite music.
By 1967 I was a Rock Jock at a station in Reading, Pennsylvania where Biff Price could be heard, “…playing the hits!” Vinyl records had largely been replaced by thousands of songs on “carts” in the studio. Although primitive by today’s standards, the automated cart system we used was fantastic for doing record shows on-air. The British had long since invaded, and Motown was getting down (and funky) every hour!
By the late sixties the only time we handled vinyl records was when we re-recorded them on cart for use on the radio. Vinyl records disappeared from mass distribution in 1991, replaced by compact discs, but they are still manufactured today and popular with collectors and audiophiles. They experienced a surge in popularity with the advent of hip hop DJs. The heyday of vinyl records had indeed ended, but their invention made the modern music industry possible. With a nod to Sonny and Cher, “…the beat goes on!”