This month’s episode is a little different. We are going to tell you the story of Tumbleweed Records: the little label that could…until it couldn’t.
In 1971, ABC-Dunhill label men Larry Ray and Bill Szymczyk fled an earthquake and a debauched L.A. music scene to claim their own slice of utopia in Denver, Colorado. In Denver, they realized their dreams of an “artist-oriented” label and settled on the name Tumbleweed Records. Through industry connections they secured multi-million-dollar financing from Gulf + Western, whose head honchos believed they were bankrolling the hippie movement’s next big thing.
But instead of producing the next Janis or Jimi, Ray and Szymczyk turned their sights on idiosyncratic wunderkinds like Pete McCabe, moody songwriters Robb Kunkel and Danny Holien, astral cowboy Arthur Gee, while launching the career of Michael Stanley and providing a platform for more established artists like Albert Collins and Dewey Terry.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and, per Szymczyk, it was a “bitchin’ disco time.” Drugs, parties, poetry, celebrities, money—Tumbleweed had it all, except airplay and distribution. Two years after its storied start, the label was finished. So begins a major reappraisal of Tumbleweed’s catalog by bringing these songs out of the shadow of the Rocky Mountains and back into the spotlight.
Listen below or subscribe to the Light In The Attic Podcast on iTunes!
BONUS MATERIAL: Listen to our full interview with producer Bill Szymczyk here!
Preorder Sing It High, Sing It Low: Tumbleweed Records 1971-1973 here!
Hosted by Hilary Staff & Jackie Allen
Edited/Produced by Michelle Lanz
Adapted from liner notes by Sarah Sweeney
Guests: Bill Szymczyk, Robb Kunkel, Larry Ray