Revival Of A Label
Southern California headquartered President/CEO Shawn Nagy of Super Oldies, along with Greg Walker & Kenneth Broad of Norman Petty Studios, LLC announced today a joint venture to revive legendary producer Norman Petty’s “Nor-Va-Jak” label. Although Petty had various labels during his successful 40-year record producing career, Nor-Va-Jak was his first independent label, created initially to promote his own group “The Norman Petty Trio”. In late 1954 the Trio spawned the chart topping hit “Mood Indigo” enabling him to purchase the building that would become his world-famous “7th Street Studio” in Clovis, New Mexico. Two years later, his own composition “Almost Paradise” was a 1957 smash with multiple versions on the charts at the same time, and various cover versions around the world. After purchasing a new Chrysler Imperial, the rest of his funds were poured into a state of the art recording facility.
Petty and his studio were quickly in demand, and he found himself in the middle of a hotbed of musical talent. After Roy Orbison made his first recordings with Petty, other area rockers headed to the studio. Petty recorded Buddy Holly & The Crickets, Waylon Jennings, Buddy Knox, Jimmy Bowen, Trini Lopez & The Big Beats, Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs, Johnny Duncan, Terry Noland, The String-A-Longs and many others. In the ‘60s & ‘70s, future heavy-weights like J.D. Souther (Cinders), Johnny Lee Schell (Baby), Bob Yeazel (Beast), The Champs (featuring Jerry Cole, Seals & Crofts, and Glen Campbell), Johnny Mulhair (Apple Glass Cyndrom) and even country star Don Williams would make their earliest recordings with Norman. From north of the border, over 20 acts traveled 1500 miles to record with Petty and numerous Canadian chart hits were the result.
Today, the 7th Street Studio is a time machine featuring the original trendy mid-century décor, along with vintage instruments that were featured on the famous hit recordings. Gold Records, BMI Awards and other memorabilia fill the walls and offer visitors an untouched and intimate time capsule unlike any other. After Vi Petty’s death in 1992, Kenneth Broad and Lyle Walker bought out other beneficiaries and took over the Petty Estate, with Walker handling legal affairs and Broad acting as a welcoming curator to visitors who wanted to visit the world’s most authentic vintage recording studio. While other labels have handled CD releases on the popular hits, the Petty audio vaults have for the most part been an untapped resource covering wide-ranging genres. Much to the dismay of historian and collectors, this variety of material has never been acknowledged or released. The revitalization of the label aims to preserve and promote Petty’s work that has not been previously released, or certainly not authorized or available in digital form.
Shawn Nagy’s “Super Oldies” CD label has mainly focused on releasing music from Canadian hit-makers that Petty produced, and he has been working numerous years on a definitive documentary on Petty getting both the Estate and Norman & Vi’s families involved. After viewing the first finished section of the production, the Estate appreciated that it may well be the first unbiased feature on the producer, featuring information and material that has never been documented elsewhere.
They hope it might be able to rectify decades of misinformation and shed new light on the prolific nature of his recordings, rather than just focusing on the handful of artists that had the huge mainstream successes with Petty’s production. “There were numerous International and regional hits that very few know about, and of such musical variety. Norman could take an amateur garage level band and polish them up during the duration of one night, capture their performance, then make a quality product and get it the act signed and released on a major record label within weeks. One man was doing the job of a full company and was at the top of his game in rock & roll’s most charismatic period. Norman would record the music, mix it, publish it, take band photos, and then promote the final package to his contacts. The labels were going to him for new content - it is usually the other way around. He was on the charts consistently from 1954 to 1968. That’s a great run” said Nagy from his California office.
As the massive 40 year collection of vault material is cataloged, Nagy & Walker believe this is going to be a big year for the Petty legacy. Greg Walker says, “Nothing could be more appropriate than making this music available after all these years.” Sentimentally, the label fired up on May 25th, 2016 (which would have been Petty’s 89th birthday) releasing a double CD set on the Norman Petty Trio.