Abbey Records

Abbey Records: A Brief History

Abbey Records was a record label active in the United States from roughly 1949 until 1953¹. The label was founded by Pete Doraine and was originally operated in the Forest Hills, Queens, section of New York City. However, it soon moved to 10th Avenue in the Manhattan borough in mid-1949 with Doraine serving as president.

In 1950, Abbey Records experienced its first (and biggest) hit with a recording of “The Old Piano Roll Blues” by J. Lawrence Cook. This disc, catalog number 15003, reached a peak position of 13, and had staying power for eleven weeks. Cook had recorded it in 1949, and then sold it to Abbey. Billboard had reviewed this record in its “Billboard Picks” as “spontaneous” and “rollicking” with “guts and drive,” and evidently, the public agreed.

Abbey’s next issue in the 15000-series was a Country hit. “Slippin’ Around With Jole Blon” by Bud Messner and His Skyline Boys reached number 7 on the Country juke box charts in June 1950. By mid-year, they had again moved headquarters, this time to 49th street, and had added two distributors to handle increased demand for their records.

The year 1951 saw another hit by Cook, although minor, a cover of “Down Yonder” (catalog number 15053) that placed a position #22 on Billboard’s charts. In 1951, the company located an operational nickelodeon in Richmond Hill, Queens on the advice of Cook, and signed a contract to record the machine. Because there were no extant rolls for the nickelodeon, Cook hand-produced rolls of two songs written specifically for the record.

See also  Asch Records

Abbey Records had a diverse range of artists. Some of the notable ones include:

  1. Charlie Barnet
  2. Stuart Foster
  3. Nellie Hill
  4. Bob Howard
  5. King Odum
  6. Jesse Perry
  7. Ben Smith
  8. Charlie Spivak

Additionally, J. Lawrence Cook and Bud Messner and His Skyline Boys had successful hits with Abbey Records.