Tunes on Tuesday

101 Strings - hawaiian paradise.jpg

Music comes in many styles.  Some of them appeal to many people, but many of them appeal to some people. 101 Strings aspired to connect with a larger audience by recording standards and popular music; however, they did it differently than the competition, all thanks to the man behind the band.  His name was Dave Miller, a Philadelphia native who was inspired to create records after taking a tour of the RCA Victor factory in Camden, New Jersey, across the river from his city. First, he recorded weddings for sale. Then he signed on an unknown artist named Bill Haley, calling his back-up band The Comets thanks to Halley's Comet. Things went well until Haley sued Miller for reprinting his music and selling it at budget prices, without giving Haley a cut. And so Miller went bankrupt and had to start again.

He hired orchestras in Europe to avoid American union fees, and recorded cover songs that avoided copyright infringements, which allowed him greater flexibility and control over the records. 101 Strings is a misnomer, though, since many of his orchestras had more than 101 members in them. He produced and sold his records in bulk, which allowed for cheaper prices. His first three albums were all released in November of 1957, while the next year 101 Strings recorded twenty-four different titles.  Hawaiian Paradise covered familiar tunes, extremely popular in the late-50s and early-60s after the tropical islands were admitted as the 50th State, although it would have never reached the top of the Billboard charts.  Still, during the just over ten years that 101 Strings released music, they sold over fifty million albums worldwide.