Friday, 11 July 2014

The Real History of ARC Sound Company

Phil Anderson
So much of what has been written about ARC Sound Company Ltd. on the Internet is either false, error filled or derisive, that we felt it was time to set the record straight. ARC Records was a Canadian owned, independent label that was started in April 1958 and was solely founded and owned by Phillip G. Anderson. It was a subsidiary of Arc Sound Company Ltd, also solely owned by Phillip G. Anderson. The company began pressing it's own records in 1959 after initially starting operations by distributing records for several American record companies. Arc started Precision Manufacturing Ltd in 1961 to handle the manufacture and pressing of LPs and 45s for the company. This division was run by Jack Anderson, Phil Anderson's brother.  
Arc Sound was responsible for signing and producing many of the top Canadian recording artists in the 1960s namely Anne Murray, Bill Amesbury, Terry BlackBrothers-in-Law, the Majestics, Stitch In Tyme, Fred McKennaCatherine McKinnon, Harry Hibbs, Billy O’ConnorPat Riccio, Ronnie Hawkins, The Travellers, Ritchie Knight & The Mid-Knights, and the Ugly Ducklings. One of their biggest successes was the Canadian release of "We're Off To Dublin In The Green" by The Abbey Tavern Singers in 1967. The group was an Irish band but became enormously popular in Canada as "We're Off To Dublin In The Green" reached #2 on Canada's CHUM Charts and selling close to 150,000 copies in Canada within the first year of releaseMany of ARC's best selling albums were produced by Brian Ahern, who went on to produce albums for such artists as Anne Murray, Ronnie Hawkins and was the musical director of Singalong Jubilee. In fact, he produced the first Anne Murray album "What About Me" for ARC. Ahern left ARC in the early 1970s and moved to Nashville where he produced more Anne Murray albums and other artists such as Johnny Cash, Neil Young, and Emmy Lou Harris, whom he later married. 

ARC sound formed it's own talent agency, Canint Talent in 1965 to manage and promote new country recording artists on the ARC label. Among the artists signed were Jimmy James, Ned Landry, Artie and the Mustangs, George Pasher and Bert Cuff. Ralph Haring and Ben Wetherby were key personnel involved in this new agency.
Arc Sound also opened another subsidiary in Bay Music and built a separate four track recording studio in 1966 as part of their commitment to recording emerging Canadian talent and recorded many of Canada's finest musicians in that studio. The studio was often booked by recording artists other than ones signed by ARC Sound. Under the Arc label, there were a number of sub-labels namely Yorkville; which carried contemporary artists such as the David Clayton-Thomas, The Ugly Ducklings, the Stitch In Tyme, Ronnie Hawkins, The Secrets and The 5 Rising Sons; and the Caribou label, which carried artists like Harry Hibbs, Norma Gale and the Keefe Sisters. 

In the early 70s, Phil Anderson amalgamated the various divisions of Arc Sound Company into one corporation called AHED Music Corporation Ltd., which stood for Arc Home Entertainment Diversified. AHED began selling musical instruments, namely pianos, organs and guitars, through retail stores called "Mr. Music." AHED ceased operations in 1986 due to the slow Canadian economy and changes in the music industry. Despite some disparaging comments on web sites regarding ARC Sound's business practices, many Canadian musicians owe their early success to this innovative company.