Dot Records Magnate Randy Wood Dies

Pat Boone (L) and Randy Wood (R)

Randy Wood, who founded Dot Records and brought Nashville native Pat Boone to pop-music stardom, has died in California at age 94.

The entrepreneur’s Randy’s Record Shop, based in Gallatin, was a key institution in the evolution of rock ‘n’ roll. Wood sold r&b records to white teenagers via mail order by advertising via the 50,000-watt WLAC on the shows of disc jockeys such as Gene Nobles and Hoss Allen. He founded the mail order business in 1947 and created Dot in 1950.

The label recorded a complete cross section of American music, from the ragtime piano of Gallatin’s Johnny Maddox to the pop harmonizing of Bowling Green’s The Hilltoppers, from the gospel sounds of Nashville’s The Fairfield Four to the comedy stylings of the Grand Ole Opry’s Lonzo & Oscar, from the Nashville dance bands of Frances Craig and Beasley Smith to the blues songs of the city’s Cecil Gant. Wally Fowler, Billy Vaughn, Snooky Lanson and Sam McCrary were also on the label’s roster.

Among Dot’s most notable country successes were Jimmy C. Newman’s 1954 hit “Cry, Cry, Darling” and 1957’s “A Fallen Star,” Mac Wiseman’s early bluegrass favorite “Tis Sweet to Be Remembered,” Bonnie Guitar’s 1957 “Dark Moon,” Leroy Van Dyke’s 1957 “The Auctioneer” and Sanford Clark’s 1956 “The Fool.” The label also recorded Cowboy Copas, Ned Miller, Hank Garland, Zeke Clements, JamUp & Honey, Reno & Smiley, Tommy Jackson, Roy Wiggins, Kenny Roberts and Big Jeff Bess (whose wife Tootsie immortalized the downtown honky-tonk that still bears her name).

In addition to chart-topping Boone hits such as 1955’s “Ain’t It a Shame” and 1957’s “Love Letters in the Sand,” Dot achieved major success with Gale Storm’s 1955 “I Hear You Knocking,” The Dell- Vikings’ 1957 “Come Go with Me,” Jim Lowe’s 1956 “The Green Door,” The Fontane Sisters’ 1954 “Hearts of Stone,” Nervous Norvus’ 1956 “Transfusion” and Tab Hunter’s 1957 “Young Love.” In addition to Hunter and Storm, the label also recorded such Hollywood stars as Debbie Reynolds, Margaret Whiting and Marlene Dietrich in the early 1950s.

Randy Wood sold Dot to Paramount in 1957, relocated to the West Coast and remained president of the label until 1967. Dot was rebranded as a country-music label in 1968. It became ABC-Dot on Music Row in 1974 and was discontinued at the start of 1978.

In his later career in California, Wood co-founded Ranwood Records with bandleader Lawrence Welk.

A native of Morrison, TN, Randy Wood died on April 9 after a fall in his home in La Jolla, CA.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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