The following is a note with photos from George Blau regarding electrical recording in 1925:
I had a friend who recorded for Columbia from 1924-1931. Art Gillham, "The
Whispering Pianist", is usually credited with making the first electrical
recording which was commercially released: February 25, 1925 master 140125,
"You May Be Lonesome", Columbia 328-D. (High Fidelity Magazine, January,
1977, p 95; also see Brian Rust, The Columbia Masters Discography
1924-1934). Art was interviewed in 1961, a few weeks before his death on
June 6, 1961, and stated Columbia paid him a bonus of $1000.00 for
experimenting with the electrical recording process because of his
experience in using microphones on radio broadcasts. He began appearing on
radio in 1923 and was a performer of the November 4, 1924 election night
broadcast from New York's WEAF which was carried on an 18 station "hookup".
Also on that broadcast were Will Rogers, Wendell Hall, Carson Robison, The
Shannon Four and the Joseph Knecht Orchestra. He appeared on approximately
300 radio stations before network broadcasting.
Art Gillham "The Whispering Pianist" making an electrical recording ca. 1925
Label of the first Columbia electrical recording.
Brian Rust shows Columbia's first try at electrical recording was in
November, 1924, but no records issued. The next electrical recording
session was on February 25, 1925 when Art Gillham recorded 5 electrical
masters. He recorded another electrical master on February 26, 1925 and
another on February 27, 1925. On February 27, 1925 Columbia began using the
Western Electric electrical process for most recordings from that date
I do not know the release date of Columbia records 326-D, 328-D and 343-D
(which contain the fives masters from February 25, 1925). The High Fidelity
article states the first electrical recording released was in April, 1925
by Victor of an excerpt of University of Pennsylvania's Mask & Wig Club.
Brian Rust's The Victor Master Book, Vol 2 (1925-1936) shows the Mask and
Wig Club's recording of "Joan of Arkansas" to be Victor's first electrical
recording (master 32160) made on March 16, 1925 and issued on Victor 19626.
George Blau September 16, 1999.
Return to Electrical Recording | Recording Technology History Notes | this page revised Sep. 24, 1999