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Archie Bleyer

Archie Bleyer had a long career in the music business as a bandleader, recording artist, producer, and label owner. He will be principally remembered as the founder of Cadence Records, which had hits in the 1950s and early '60s with Andy Williams, the Chordettes, Johnny Tillotson, Lenny Welch, and Bleyer himself. He'll be most remembered, though, as the man who produced the Everly Brothers in the late '50s, when the duo had most of their biggest and most famous hit singles.

Bleyer's roots were in the big-band era. He was leading his own dance band by 1934, which recorded for Brunswick in the '30s, and featured Johnny Mercer, who went on to become an important label entrepreneur himself (at Capitol Records). He worked in radio and television in the '40s and '50s, leading the orchestra on Arthur Godfrey's TV programs. At the end of 1952, he started Cadence Records, primarily to record one of the Godfrey television stars, singer Julius LaRosa. Cadence recorded other regulars from the Godfrey series, and also put out records by Bleyer himself. One of those, the tango "Hernando's Hideaway" (from the musical Pajama Game), made number two in 1954, and Bleyer also had a small hit in 1956 with the Steve Allen song "The Rockin' Ghost."

With Andy Williams and the Chordettes, Bleyer edged toward a more contemporary sound that, while not quite rock & roll, at least used material that was rock-influenced (or covers of songs by more genuine rock artists). In 1956, Bleyer had rejected a demo tape for the Everly Brothers, who had already recorded unsuccessfully for Columbia. A few months later, however, he signed them to a contract after a recommendation from heavyweight music publisher Wesley Rose. From the Everlys' first hit ("Bye Bye Love") to the end of the '50s, Bleyer was their producer, overseeing a classic body of work both on the hit singles and their B-sides and albums. Credit is due to many other people besides the Everlys and Bleyer for this music, including songwriters Boudleaux & Felice Bryant, and session musicians like Chet Atkins. Bleyer deserves kudos, though, for producing end results that emphasized the Everlys' innovations, without trying to add too much to what was already there; their sound was clean and uncluttered.

In 1960, the Everlys' contract with Cadence expired, and they decided to move to Warner Bros. Some critics feel that they never regained the purity of their Cadence material, and after a strong start at Warner Bros with hit singles like "Cathy's Clown," they stopped visiting the Top Ten after 1962. Although it is true that by 1962 the Everlys' material and recordings were more erratic than they had ever been at Cadence, it's also true that their best Warner Bros songs were outstanding, sometimes boasting a fullness (as on "Cathy's Clown" and "Walk Right Back") that the Cadence sessions didn't match. Bleyer was unable to keep the Everly Brothers primarily because, as a small label, Cadence was unable to match the packages offered to one of the hottest pop recording acts of the era by bigger concerns like Warners. The Everlys were also tiring of being caught in the middle of differences between Bleyer and Wesley Rose, particularly in regards to the material selected for their discs.

The Everlys themselves have offered mixed appraisal of the Bleyer era. Don Everly has criticized Bleyer's musical taste as being out of date with where the Everlys were headed. Phil Everly and others involved with the Cadence sessions, however, note that Bleyer had an excellent ear for what was commercial. Phil Everly also married Bleyer's stepdaughter, Jackie Ertel (daughter of Chordettes singer Janet Ertel Bleyer), in 1963, which must have made for some interesting awkwardness at family get-togethers.

Cadence continued to have some hits in the early '60s with teen idols such as Johnny Tillotson and Eddie Hodges, as well as the massive pop ballad "Since I Fell for You" by Lenny Welch in 1963 (which Bleyer produced) and the huge selling President Kennedy satire by comedian Vaughn Meader, The First Family. Bleyer lost several of his biggest acts besides the Everly Brothers to bigger labels, though, and shut down Cadence in 1964, selling the masters to Andy Williams. ~ Richie Unterberger
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Moments To Remember

Disc 1

2. Little Darlin'

3. April Love

4. Earth Angel

5. Dance With Me Henry (Wallflower)

6. The Green Door

7. Teach Me Tonight

8. Picnic

9. Crazy

10. Old Cape Cod

11. Hearts Of Stone

12. Suddenly, There's A Valley

13. Pretend

14. You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You

15. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

16. Allegheny Moon

17. Tell Me Why

18. Till I Waltz Again With You

19. Till Then

Disc 2

1. Wanted

2. Eh Cumpari

3. Day By Day

4. Dear Hearts And Gentle People

5. The Three Bells

6. Since I Fell For You

7. Harbor Lights

8. Beyond The Sea

9. An Affair To Remember (Our Love Affair)

11. Why Don't You Believe Me

12. This Ole House

13. Unchained Melody

14. Smoke Rings

15. Where The Boys Are

16. Venus

18. Hernando's Hideway

Disc 3

1. Chances Are

2. Break It To Me Gently

3. No, Not Much!

4. Harbor Lights

6. Rock And Roll Waltz

7. Sea Of Heartbreak

8. That Old Black Magic

9. Scotch And Soda

10. Come On-A My House

11. It's Only Make Believe

12. Kisses Sweeter Than Wine

13. Put Your Head On My Shoulder

14. Young Love

15. Lollipop

16. How High The Moon

18. See You In September

19. You Belong To Me

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