Blue Thumb Records History, Albums & Artists

Blue Thumb RecordsOur Blue Thumb Records Label History, Albums And Artists article is the first in a new series that looks at classic rock’s most important record labels and the albums and artists that made those labels successful. The history of record labels can be a difficult one to write because of all the mergers and acquisitions that involve record labels. This series will focus on certain labels and select artists and articles from those labels that gave those particular labels their identity. Record collectors are intrigued by record labels and their varying forms of identity printed right on the vinyl record label. It’s the old 1841 Broadway concept. For those who may not understand what that means, there are collectors who will only buy Atlantic Record albums with an 1841 Broadway address on the label because that signifies the album was printed before Atlantic Records moved their offices to 75 Rockefeller Plaza. For some that is trivial, but for others its extremely important. This should be fun.

Blue Thumb Records was first started in 1968. The record label was found by  Bob Krasnow, Tommy LiPuma and Don Graham. The label’s first signing was the brilliant Captain Beefheart In fact it was Captain Beefheart who came up with the name for Blue Thumb Records. However, it was not Captain Beefheart‘s intentions to name a record label but rather give the name to his back up band. Record label executive Bob Krasnow convinced Captain Beefheart to give his band a different name and then used Captain Beefheart’s idea to name the record label.

Blue Thumb Records lasted only ten years from 1968 to 1978. They were not a big label and had a limited roster of artists. Distribution is always a problem for small record labels. If you can’t get your product into the record stores, your not going to sell any albums. At least that the way it worked before the internet. The label started out distributing independently but then signed with Capitol/EMI distribution in 1970. The huge corporation Gulf & Western which was buying everything from supermarkets like New York Bohack’s to Paramount Movies and Television to Simon and Shuster began handling distribution of Blue Thumb Records in 1971. ABC Records eventually acquired Blue Thumb Records in the late 1970s When ABC was sold to MCA Records in 1979, Blue Thumb Records was shutdown.

Blue Thumb Records was revived in 1995. The label lasted another 10 years until Verve started to replace the Blue Thumb label with Verve Forecast. Over the years Blue Thumb Records signed a diverse cast of artists ranging from rock to folk to r&b to jazz. Below is what we believe were some of the most important albums released on the Blue Thumb label.

Strictly Personal  – Captain Beefheart

The first Blue Thumb Album release. Issued in 1968

Aynsley Dunbar

Aynsley Dunbar was one of the labels most respected artists. He is also one of the most important drummers in classic rock history having worked with such legends as Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, David Bowie, Sammy Hagar, Ian Hunter and so many more. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the band Journey.

Below is a list of albums released by Aynley Dunbar on Blue Thumb Records

The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation – 1968

Doctor Dunbar’s Prescription – 1969

To Mum From Aynsley and the Boys – 1970

Ike & Tina Turner

The great team of Ike & Tina Turner released two fabulous album on Blue Thumb Records in 1969.

Outta Season – 1969

The Hunter – 1969

Dave Mason

The legendary ex member of the classic rock band Traffic signed to Blue Thumb Records in 1970. Dave Mason released 4 studio albums,1 live album and a few greatest hits packages for the label.

Alone Together – 1970

Dave Mason & Cass Elliot – 1971

Headkeeper – 1972

Dave Mason is Alive! – 1973

Split Coconut – 1975

Ben Sidran

Ben Sidran was a jazz / pop artist in similar fashion to Mose Allison.

I Lead a Life – 1972

Puttin’ in Time on Planet Earth – 1973

Don’t Let Go – 1974

The Crusaders

The Crusaders were a great jazz group that blended a bit of r&b grooves behind their material. They released more studio albums on the label than any other artist that was ever signed to Blue Thumb Records

The Crusaders 1 – 1972

Scratch – 1974

Chain Reaction – 1975

Those Southern Knights – 1976

Free as the Wind – 1977

Images – 1978

There were many artists that just released one album on the label or two at the most. The following are some more albums released by Blue Thumb that we think our readers should check out. Nit all of them were musical like the ones released by Lenny. However these were records that had an impact on pop culture and should be included as important releases by the label. They jad been listed by the year

Selected 1969 Blue Thumb Records

Unicorn – Tyrannosaurus Rex

Truckin’ with Albert Collins – Albert Collins

Sweet Black Angel – Earl Hooker

Sam Lay in Bluesland – Sam Lay‘s Bluesband

Alegria! – Bossa Rio

Selected 1970 Blue Thumb Records

Buddy and the Juniors – Buddy Guy, Junior Mance & Junior Wells

A Bad Donato – João Donato

False Start – Love  

This one featured Jimi Hendrix

Magical Connection – Gábor Szabó

Selected 1971 Blue Thumb Records

What a Place to Land – Southwind

High Contrast – Gábor Szabó &  Bobby Womack

Where’s the Money? – Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks

Naturally – Jessie Hill

Selected 1972 Blue Thumb Records

Mark-Almond II – Mark-Almond

Radio Dinner – National Lampoon

The Barbeque of Deville – Hoodoo Rhythm Devils

Private Tonight – Arthur Adams

Stardancer – Tom Rapp

Selected 1973 Blue Thumb Records

Sylvester and the Hot Band – Sylvester and the Hot Band

Singing/Playing – Larry Carlton

The Pointer SistersThe Pointer Sisters

At Last – The Last Poets

Can I Have My Money Back? – Gerry Rafferty

Butts BandButts Band – (members of the Doors)

Selected 1974 Blue Thumb Records

America, Wake Up – Paul Humphrey

The Missing White House Tapes – National Lampoon

I Am Not Afraid – Hugh Masekela

Selected 1975 Blue Thumb Records

Hear and Now – Butts Band

New Year, New Band, New Company – John Mayall

Steppin’ – The Pinter Sisters

Selected 1977 Blue Thumb Records

Having a Party – The Pointer Sisters

Come Into Knowledge – Ramp

All album covers are Amazon affiliate links are are not stored on the server.

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