Straight Records

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Straight Records
Straight Records logo 1960s.svg
Parent company
Founded1969;50 years ago (1969)
StatusDefunct; Zappa-related recordings were reverted to the Zappa Family Trust and Zappa Records [2] , while non-Zappa recordings reverted to Warner Bros.
Distributor(s) CBS
(United Kingdom; 1969)
Reprise/Warner Bros. [1]
(United States, later worldwide; 1969–2012)
(Worldwide; 2012–present)
Country of origin United States
Location Los Angeles, California, United States [3]

Straight Records, self-identified simply as Straight, was a record label formed in 1969 to distribute productions and discoveries of Frank Zappa and his business partner/manager Herb Cohen. Straight was formed at the same time as a companion label, Bizarre Records. Straight and Bizarre were manufactured and distributed in the U.S. by the Warner Bros. Records family of labels, which also included Reprise Records. Straight recordings were distributed in the U.K. by CBS Records.

A record label, or record company, is a brand or trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Sometimes, a record label is also a publishing company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing, promotion, and enforcement of copyright for sound recordings and music videos, while also conducting talent scouting and development of new artists, and maintaining contracts with recording artists and their managers. The term "record label" derives from the circular label in the center of a vinyl record which prominently displays the manufacturer's name, along with other information. Within the mainstream music industry, recording artists have traditionally been reliant upon record labels to broaden their consumer base, market their albums, and be both promoted and heard on music streaming services, radio, and television. Record labels also provide publicists, who assist performers in gaining positive media coverage, and arrange for their merchandise to be available via stores and other media outlets.

1969 in music Overview of the events of 1969 in music

List of notable events in music that took place in the year 1969.

Frank Zappa American musician

Frank Vincent Zappa was an American multi-instrumentalist musician, composer, and bandleader. His work is characterized by nonconformity, free-form improvisation, sound experiments, musical virtuosity, and satire of American culture. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa composed rock, pop, jazz, jazz fusion, orchestral and musique concrète works, and produced almost all of the 60-plus albums that he released with his band the Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. Zappa also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. He is considered one of the most innovative and stylistically diverse rock musicians of his era.


Frank Zappa chose the majority of the artists for the Straight label. His original intention was to release albums by avant-garde artists on Bizarre, and recordings by more mainstream artists on Straight. However the original concept failed to work out as expected due to issues with record distribution and artist management. Frank Zappa, the Mothers of Invention, Wild Man Fischer, and Lenny Bruce certainly fit in at Bizarre, but all others ended up on Straight. This led to some very unusual albums on the Straight label especially those by Captain Beefheart, Alice Cooper and the GTOs.

The Mothers of Invention American rock band

The Mothers of Invention was an American rock band from California. Formed in 1964, their work is marked by the use of sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows.

Wild Man Fischer American musician

Lawrence Wayne "Wild Man" Fischer was an American street performer known for offering erratic, acapella performances of "new kinds of songs" for a nickel or a dime each on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. Most of his life was spent homeless or institutionalized, and he later became regarded as "the godfather of outsider music".

Lenny Bruce American comedian, activist and social critic

Leonard Alfred Schneider, better known by his stage name Lenny Bruce, was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, and satirist. He was renowned for his open, free-style and critical form of comedy which integrated satire, politics, religion, sex, and vulgarity. His 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial was followed by a posthumous pardon, the first in the history of New York state, by then-Governor George Pataki in 2003.

Zappa was also responsible for the Persuasions' first LP, Acapella. Over the phone he heard the Persuasions singing live in a Jersey City record shop. Due to his passion for doo-wop Zappa immediately flew the vocal group to Los Angeles to record. Other notable Straight artists included Tim Buckley, and the duo of Judy Henske & Jerry Yester. These musicians came to the label through an association with manager Herb Cohen.

The Persuasions

The Persuasions are an a cappella group that began singing together in Brooklyn, New York in the mid-1960s.

Doo-wop style of rhythm & blues

Doo-wop is a genre of rhythm and blues music developed in the 1940s by African American youth, mainly in the large cities of the upper East Coast, including New York. It features vocal group harmony that carries an engaging melodic line to a simple beat with little or no instrumentation. Lyrics are simple, usually about love, ornamented with nonsense syllables, and often featuring, in the bridge, a melodramatically heartfelt recitative addressed to the beloved. Gaining popularity in the 1950s, doo-wop enjoyed its peak successes in the early 1960s, but continued to influence performers in other genres.

Tim Buckley American singer and musician

Timothy Charles Buckley III was an American vocalist, songwriter, guitarist and producer. His music and style changed considerably through the years. Buckley began his career based in folk music, but his subsequent albums experimented with jazz, psychedelia, funk, soul, avant-garde and an evolving voice-as-instrument sound. He died at the age of 28 from a heroin overdose, leaving behind his sons Taylor and Jeff.

The first issue of Love It to Death by Alice Cooper was on Straight. However, by the time the album became a success it had already been re-issued on Warner Bros. Starting in 1972 this and other Straight recordings were re-issued by either Reprise or Warner Bros. By 1973 the Bizarre and Straight distribution agreement with Warner ended. Under a new agreement starting that year Zappa and Cohen's business ventures with Warner were merged and renamed to create DiscReet Records. The Zappa/Cohen business partnership ended acrimoniously with litigation from both sides in 1976. In the settlement, reached a few years later, Zappa retained ownership of his work and Herb Cohen assumed ownership of most of the non-Zappa material from Bizarre, Straight and DiscReet.

<i>Love It to Death</i> 1971 studio album by Alice Cooper

Love It to Death is the third studio album by the American rock band Alice Cooper, released in March 1971. It was the band's first commercially successful album, and is considered to be where the band first consolidated its aggressive hard-rocking sound. The album's best-known track, "I'm Eighteen", was released as a single to test the band's commercial viability before the album was recorded.

Alice Cooper American rock singer, songwriter and musician

Alice Cooper is an American singer, songwriter, and actor whose career spans over 50 years. With his distinctive raspy voice and a stage show that features guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, deadly snakes, baby dolls, and dueling swords, Cooper is considered by music journalists and peers alike to be "The Godfather of Shock Rock". He has drawn equally from horror films, vaudeville, and garage rock to pioneer a macabre and theatrical brand of rock designed to shock people.

DiscReet Records, self-identified simply as DiscReet, was a record label founded by Frank Zappa and his then business partner/manager Herb Cohen. The name of the label was a pun derived from disc and the Compatible Discrete 4 process of encoding quadraphonic sound signals into phonograph records.

In 1988 and 1989 Straight recordings by Captain Beefheart, Alice Cooper, Tim Buckley, the GTOs, the Persuasions, and Lord Buckley were briefly re-issued on CD and cassette by the Enigma Retro label. Zappa died at age 52 in 1993. Cohen died at age 73 in 2010.

Captain Beefheart American musician

Don Van Vliet was an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and visual artist best known by the stage name Captain Beefheart. He conducted a rotating ensemble called the Magic Band, with whom he recorded 13 studio albums between 1964 and 1982. His music blended elements of blues, free jazz, rock, and the avant-garde with idiosyncratic rhythms, absurdist wordplay, and his wide vocal range. Known for his enigmatic persona, Beefheart frequently constructed myths about his life and was known to exercise an almost dictatorial control over his supporting musicians. Although he achieved little commercial success, he sustained a cult following as a "highly significant" and "incalculable" influence on an array of new wave, punk, and experimental rock artists.

The GTOs group of groupie

The GTOs were an all-girl group from the Los Angeles area, specifically the Sunset Strip scene. Active for only two and a half years (1968–1970) with a single reunion in 1974, their only album, Permanent Damage, produced by Frank Zappa, was released in 1969.

Lord Buckley American actor and comedian

Lord Richard Buckley was an American stand-up comedian and recording artist, who in the 1940s and 1950s created a character that was, according to The New York Times, "an unlikely persona ... part English royalty, part Dizzy Gillespie."

Rumors have been made that since the early 1990s the ownership of some Straight recordings has become unclear. This may have prevented further re-issues of some Straight material. By the late 2000s, however, some of these recordings (such as Tim Buckley's Blue Afternoon and Starsailor, and Captain Beefheart's Lick My Decals Off Baby) have since been reissued on 180-gram vinyl and have been made available for sale on the iTunes Store. They have not, however, been reissued on CD. Whilst it has not been officially stated, it is believed that the clause preventing these albums' re-release only covered CD releases and not other formats. However, tracks from them have been licensed for and appeared on CD compilations in recent years.

List of Straight Records artists

Alice Cooper (band) American rock band

Alice Cooper was an American rock band formed in Phoenix, Arizona in 1964. The band consisted of lead singer Vince Furnier, Glen Buxton, Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway, and Neal Smith (drums). Furnier legally changed his name to Alice Cooper and has had a solo career under that name since the band became inactive in 1975. The band was notorious for their elaborate, theatrical shock rock stage shows. In 2011, the original Alice Cooper band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Jeff Simmons is an American rock musician best known as a former member of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention.

Judy Henske American musician

Judith A. Henske is an American singer and songwriter, once known as "the Queen of the Beatniks".

See also

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<i>Starsailor</i> (album) 1970 studio album by Tim Buckley

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<i>Blue Afternoon</i> 1969 studio album by Tim Buckley

Blue Afternoon, released in 1969, was Tim Buckley's first self-produced record and his debut for Herb Cohen and Frank Zappa's Straight record label. This was Buckley's fourth album after Tim Buckley, Goodbye and Hello, and Happy Sad. Blue Afternoon used the same group of musicians as Happy Sad, with the inclusion of drummer Jimmy Madison.

<i>Läther</i> 1996 studio album by Frank Zappa

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Art Tripp American musician

Arthur Dyer Tripp III is a retired American musician who is best known for his work as a percussionist with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band during the 1960s and 1970s. Tripp retired from music in the 1980s and works as a chiropractor in Mississippi.

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<i>Farewell Aldebaran</i> 1969 studio album by Judy Henske and Jerry Yester

Farewell Aldebaran by Judy Henske and Jerry Yester is an album issued in 1969 on Frank Zappa's innovative Straight record label. It contains a wild mixture of styles, as though recorded by ten different bands, all featuring Henske's almost gothic lyrics and remarkable vocal range, which might lead one to think there were also ten different singers. Instrumentally the songs are held together by Yester's piano. The album, which has achieved a cult following, is also notable for its early use of synthesisers. Although the album got some good reviews it failed to sell in large quantities, purchasers possibly having been driven away by its sheer eclecticism.

Herbert Cohen was an American personal manager, record company executive, and music publisher, best known as the manager of Judy Henske, Linda Ronstadt, Frank Zappa, Tim Buckley, Odetta, Tom Waits, George Duke, and many other Los Angeles-based musicians in the 1960s and 1970s.


  1. 1 2 "Distribution of Straight goes to WB-Reprise". Billboard . December 27, 1969. Retrieved May 21, 2017.
  2. 1 2 "Zappa Family Trust Regains Control of Frank's Barking Pumpkin Catalog, Plans Comprehensive Reissue Campaign - Line Out - The Stranger". Retrieved 2015-08-21.
  3. "Straight". Discogs.