Man" Chapter 3, Cont. i
The timing for the new Capricorn label was sketchy, Frank
Fenter had just finalized the deal with Warner Brothers that would separate Capricorn
productions from their long-time mentors at Atlantic Records. We were jumping into an
untested distribution pact with Warner Brothers, but Phil and Frank wanted a real record
label, something they said Atlantic had resisted until 1971 and then only released their
logo on a pink label. Phil and Frank felt slighted by this, while Warner Brothers had
encouraged them all along to use the logo of Capricorn Records and promised a big roll
out, and that they would increase the label's market profile. By doing this Mo Ostin and
Joe Smith kept the new label within the WEA distribution family, the newly formed
corporate entity that distributed all Warner Brothers, Electra and Atlantic Records
However, the street buzz in the record business was, "If Capricorn left the soulful
Atlantic Records for Warner Brothers, who's biggest artist was still Frank Sinatra, it
would be the kiss of death for the new label." Dick had heard this negative gossip,
but said, "It didn't bother me. My experience with Atlantic had been that we were
always the underdog, so you just put on blinders and soldier forward. It was a tough
business, we knew the competition fought dirty. But I'd competed in karate tournaments,
winning many, but had my ass handed to me too and I knew one damn thing, promoting records
could never be more painful or humbling than that... so bring it on."
In a few weeks time, Dick had his family settled into a rambling but comfortable 1890's
era home set on a red brick paved, tree lined street. It was near downtown, only a few
blocks from the offices on Cotton Avenue where Dick, Frank and Phil would share what had
been the office of the late Otis Redding.
The record company office consisted of two small rooms at street level in a building
shared by the Paragon Agency who's offices filled the basement. A small reception area
where Carolyn Brown, who'd been president of the Otis Redding fan club and Rose Lane White
who was to assistant Frank and Dick.
The funky rooms had dark red theater-curtains hanging from every wall to hide the cracks
and thread-bare carpets hid the drain covers that were once an important part of a chicken
processing plant left behind by the former tenant. And, directly across the street was the
Macon Police Station and the office of Macon's Mayor "Machine Gun" Ronnie
Dick recalled, "The three of us were squeezed in together in this small space, but it
didn't seem to matter, we were hard core music men, driven by a mutual goal. Frank and
Dick got their record business education at Atlantic Records and knew how to keep
Capricorn's new albums from getting lost in the shuffle of new releases that Warner
Brothers would be sending out to radio each month. Frank, Phil and Dick knew they'd
have to work 24/7 to make Capricorn a success, and we were committed to do whatever it
took." Dick said. "We were on a mission."
It was not going to be a cake walk getting a hit record for the new label as Dick soon
discovered after a few days of unproductive calls to radio stations around the country.
When Dick called these stations soliciting airplay for the first Warner Brothers
distributed release, the Allman's "Eat A Peach" album, radio station
receptionists and music director alike would question him and ask "Capri' -what?
Allman -who? Macon -where?" Dick quickly decided that instead of wasting time
calling stations he didn't know, he'd target his old friends who were now in charge of
many new FM stations and the old friends that were remaining in AM radio. He thought he'd
be better off to badger old pals into playing the "Eat A Peach" album instead of
cold calling the entire American radio world.
At that time, the raw fluid sounds of a Southern Jam Rock band was not the type of music
radio was accustomed to playing, but several of Dick's pals programming Atlanta, Boston
and Los Angeles stations listened, giving him the benefit of the doubt and soon were
onboard. Luckily, after only a few days of airplay they were encouraged by listener
response to what was to become known as "Southern Rock"... and the ride had
When the "Eat A Peach" album started moving up friendly radio charts, Dick went
to work on the harder to move conservative middle America radio stations. Each time a new
station was added shouts of victory rang through the two room office, and gradually the
ABB album began showing up on more radio playlists until a critical mass had been reached
and the album broke through the lower regions of the national charts.
This success was enough incentive for the powerful Warner Brothers team to move into high
gear and push the marketing button on the "Eat A Peach" album. Very soon it was
on it's way up the charts to become the Allman Brothers Band's first Gold album and later
became their first Multi-Platinum album.