Paul Weston - Capitol and Columbia

Capitol and Columbia

Weston met Johnny Mercer while working for Paramount in 1942; Mercer, who was preparing to start Capitol Records, wanted Weston to write for his new company. Paul wrote, arranged and directed Mercer's "Strip Polka"-the first arrangement written for the new label on April 6, 1942. On August first of that year, the 1942–44 musicians' strike began. No union musicians could record for any record company, but were able to play for live engagements and radio shows; the issue which prompted the strike was regarding record companies paying royalties to musicians. Many record companies had "stockpiled" recordings of their stars prior to the strike, planning to release them over a period of time. While the older, more established record labels were able to do this, the newly formed Capitol had no opportunity to do likewise. The strike brought the new company to a standstill until Johnny Mercer began his radio show, Johnny Mercer's Music Shop, in June 1943. The radio show was meant to be a venue for Capitol's talent during the Musicians' Strike. Mercer and Capitol recording artist Jo Stafford hosted the program, with Weston and his orchestra providing the music for it. Stafford and Weston had first met in 1938, when he was working as an arranger for Tommy Dorsey; Weston was responsible for getting Stafford's group, the Pied Pipers, an audition with Dorsey for his radio show. The recording ban was lifted for Capitol in October 1943 after an agreement was reached between the Musicians' Union and the record company; Weston was then able to return to the recording studio. In 1944, he became the company's music director.

Besides his work at Capitol, Weston did conducting for many radio shows during this time. He worked with Duffy's Tavern, the radio shows of Joan Davis, and Your Hit Parade. Jo Stafford, who became a regular host of the Chesterfield Supper Club in 1945, returned to California permanently in November 1946. She then hosted the show from Hollywood with Weston and his orchestra. It was around this time that Paul Weston had a new idea for recorded music that would be similar to the soundtrack of a movie. It could be an enhancement to living but subtle enough not to stifle conversation. His album Music For Dreaming was the beginning of the "Mood Music" genre. In 1950, he left Capitol for a similar position at Columbia Records; Jo Stafford also signed with Columbia at the same time. He remained active in radio, with his own The Paul Weston Show and also in acting roles on Dear John with Irene Rich, Valiant Lady, and Cavalcade of America. Paul and Jo Stafford were married on February 26, 1952; the couple had two children, Tim (born 1952), and Amy (born 1956). Both returned to Capitol in 1961, leaving the company for Dot Records in late 1965.

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