Chart Records

The Buddah Years - 1973-1974

In late 1971 Better Sounds, Inc was formed to bring all of Slim's record business companies under one corporate umbrella. Better Sounds, Inc. held Sixteenth Ave Music (BMI), Sue-Mirl Music (ASCAP) & Slimsongs Music (SESAC) in addition to Chart, Great, & Musictown Records. I really don't know what happened to Peach Music, Inc (SESAC) other than some of it's songs were listed under ASCAP as a defunct publishing company. 1971 also saw the end of Great Records. Peach Records had been mostly dormant since about 1967. Oddly enough, 10 singles were released on Peach in 1971 and 1972. In mid 1973 Cliff left Chart to manage the Nashville offices of General Recording Corporation (GRC) which was based in Atlanta, GA. but not before securing a distribution deal for Chart with Buddah Records.

Slim took control of Chart and again had a national distribution deal but it may have been a little too late. By mid 1973 Chart's artist roster had virtually been depleted. Connie Eaton had moved over to ABC, La Wanda Lindsey signed with Buck Owens organization at Capitol Records, Kenny Vernon and Anthony Armstrong Jones had moved over to Epic. The little label was in hard times. Their major artist at this time was Red Sovine.  Red had signed in 1972 and released a few singles and an LP that were very good sellers. A few major stars from years gone by had signed with Chart also. Artists such as Joe & Rose Lee Maphis, Carl & Pearl Butler, Bill Carlisle, and others. Slim had hoped these major names would help sell some records, and it did! It was also noted that the Willis Brothers had signed with Chart, but so far Ive seen no other mention or any records on Chart by the Willis Brothers.

Things went along at a snail's pace through '73 and early '74. Then another opportunity presented itself. Donna Lee Worden had written some songs that her husband Bill felt were pretty good. He took the songs to Nashville to try and get them recorded.  One of the places he took them to was Chart Records. Slim was wanting to get out of the record business so he and Mr. Worden struck a deal. In April 1974 Bill Worden & Robert Harris of New Albany, In. bought Slims entire remaining stock in Better Sounds, Inc. The deal included all of Slims remaining record & publishing companies.  Slim was officially out of the record business, and by all accounts this was the end of Chart Records as we know it. Although the Worden's were very enthusiastic, as is always with the record business, enthusiasm only goes so far. Donna Lee's songs were eventually recorded by Red Sovine on his "It'll Come Back" LP and actually they weren't bad at all! I'm not sure but I would venture to guess that some others were recorded as well.

In late 1974 Red's contract ran out and he went back to his old home at Starday and had the biggest hit of his career, "Teddy Bear" a couple of years later. Man, if Chart had gotten that one it may have saved the company, but I guess them's the breaks. 

1974 also saw the end of Buddah's affiliation. What was once a major force in country music was now knocked down to the bottom rung on the ladder. Don't get me wrong, they still had some good talent,they just didn't have the capital to promote them. Promotion is what it's all about in the record business. I believe if the Worden's had had enough money and/or clout to pull it off, Chart would have succeeded. Unfortunately that wasn't the case and sometime in 1975 Chart quietly folded.

With Buddah's distribution also came another label scheme change. It went back to the same color scheme as the RCA, except that the red was not as bright.  The catalog numbers ran sequentially from 5196 thru 5233. At this point the label again changes. This time the yellow logo is replaced with a white logo and the numbers change to the 7500 series.  At this time it appears the numbers run sequentially from 7501 thru 7518 and the records list as being distributed by Better Sounds, Inc. I do have a few records with the red & white label that have the matrix numbers as the release number.  These appear to have been produced in 1975 or 1976.

In June 1977 the Chart logo again appeared on the music scene. This time as Chart Action Records, owned by Jack Rodamaker. Apparently Rodamaker purchaced Chart circa 1976 after the Worden outfit declared bankruptcy. Artists included Billy Cole, Billy Brown, Yvonne DeVaney, Steve Bledsoe, Holly Holliday, & Doug Koempel. All I know so far is that appromimately 22 singles were released and most of these were distributed by our old friend Joe Gibson's company Nationwide Sound Distributors (NSD).

By 1978 a man by the name of Calvin Beck under the alias of Col. Tom Anthony either acquired the label or simply started using the Chart name. It was known as both Chart Records and Destiny Chart  Records.  Both names were taken from label scans with the same address printed on the label (1300 Division St, Nashville, TN.)

What happened with him and the label is anybody's guess right now.  I do hope to uncover the truth sooner of later.  I do know that Moe Lytle of Gusto Records, Inc. owns Chart Records at this time, having bought it at an IRS auction a few years ago. I wonder what he gave for it? Lytle has released a few of the original Chart LPs on CD in the past few years. Red Sovine's "It'll Come Back", all of Junior Samples LPs, Carl and Pearl Butler's LP, just to name a few.

In the mid 1970's some or most of the LP masters were sold by the bank that held the loan to a company Ronnie McDowell formed, Masters of Music, Inc. They were then allegedly re-sold to the artists who originally recorded them. (Cashbox 1978-06-17)


So the Chart Records story ends. Slim went on to form the very successful Scorpion Records in 1975 but by 1979 had quit the music business for good going instead into real estate. Cliff Williamson worked for some of the top music firms in Nashville before settling in with Starstruck Entertainment. Ott Stephens still operated WPEH radio in Louisville, GA until he retired just a few years ago. Joe Gibson retired from the music business in the mid 80's after his wife died. The Worden's? They moved back to back to their home town area of New Albany, In. Donna Lee passed away in 1990 and Bill in 2014.

Slim passed away on Christmas day, 2013. I was fortunate enough to meet and talk with him about his days with Chart & Scorpion on a couple of different occasions. He was full of stories and gave me a lot of information.  

I think this is a classic story of rags to riches. As far as I can see, Slim's vision and tenacity were what kept Chart alive. If he were alive and wanted to start a new record company today I think it would turn the country music scene on it's ear, for I know it would come out of the chute kicking and screaming "Listen to me. I am REAL country music!"