The DiscoQueen remixes were issued between 1975 and 1978.
The two people behind Disco Queen were:
This page contains four sections:
-1. Interview with Joel Silver.
-2. Info from Rick Gianatos.
-3. List of issued acetates from Disco Queen.
-4. Info about the Cutting Lathe Joel used
-1.Interview with Joel Silver.
How did you and Rick come together:
I met Rick at a local bar/disco in NJ, and thru some conversation Rick found out that I could cut quality records, so Rick asked if they could get together and record some stuff that Rick had. The equipment was set-up in a room at my parent's house. All editing (after the first few discs) was done there. The rest is history!!!
Which age had you at that time and how did you decide to make acetates:
I was about 30 years old.He was dj-ing special events at local bars... not full nights of mixing, just special "shows."He noticed that some djs had Sunshine & Angel discs in their record bins.... and he asked them why.When he heard that they liked 'custom mixes' AND heard the outrageous prices that they were paying, he decided to get in on the action... and offer my services at a substantial 'discount.'.No one else in the area [NJ] could record on a disc.I was unique!
Who did the editing and mixes:
After the first few remixes that Rick made, most editing was done by me[with some direction by Rick] by the razorblade-cut-the-tape method. After Rick took off to Hollywood,I continued to do "custom" mixes of some of my favorite songs from the '70s... and give them [or sell cheap] to local DJs.The first few remixes after Rick left were directed by him [by long distance phonecalls].
Can you tell me about how you got your own Cutting Lathe:
The lathe were the acetates were pressed was from Presto model Presto 6N. I modified the lathe by adding a much higher quality cutterhead. In fact, the head originally belonged to Motown Records. It was the actual head that recorded the masters for many of the girl groups of the '60s, including Martha & the Vandellas.
It's amazing that their historic recordings passed thru that head!! The bottom portion of the mechanism was sold to me by an old guy who worked at Bogen-Presto in the 1940s and got the thing when the plant closed. So mine ancient lathe was actually in "new" condition.The complete set-up :lathe, cutterhead, recording amp (tubes, not transistors), stylus heat unit (That built Joel self), and vacuum (to remove the "chip" which is the groove thread that's cut when the stylus cuts into the lacquer) costs me under $1000.00 (Mono version). Considering that stereo lathes in the '70s cost a quarter of a million dollars.
What were the costs of blank acetates in that period:
In that time Blanks used to costs 65cents a piece & cutting needles $5.00. Sunshine and Angel used a higher quality blank acetate than I did. Since they were charging $25~$35 for an 8 minute "dub" they could afford the better ones.
I was forced to buy cheap crap quality from a place in Brooklyn, NY called Allied Record Products. They were the worst quality in the industry... which is why they went out of business.I remember that some of the employees were "crooked" because they would offer to meet me around the corner from the factory and sell me blanks cheaper!!
What did you ask for a remix acetate:
They produced the discs on an 'order one -cut one' basis. They never had any surplus. Remember, cutting a dub must be done in "real time, so making 10~20 discs could take several hours!! Rick would tell me how many he needed for the night [NYC disco/bar hopping] and I would cut them.Typically, the price was $10.00 for a disc [unless the dj receiving the disc was 'important' - then it was free].All in all, we made about $7.00 profit per record and split it.
Because the quality of the acetates was cheap,on a lot of the acetates the lacquer peels off the metal after all those years (25 years later).
Was it a hobby or buisness:
Sunshine & Angel Sound were the competition at the time, but they were in the business of making money doing copy work [not original mixing], while Rick and I did it as a sort-of hobby... so they concentrated on mixing, not $$.
Were the recordings stereo and the acetates mono?:
Many of the reel-to-reel mixes are 2-track stereo [1/4 track format].Since I knew that they would be mixed down to mono when cut, I sometimes played games with the left & right channel recordings, knowing it would all mix together smoothly.
Did you had a numbering system:
The first catalog number was the last four numbers of Rick's telephone number. As a rule, the mixes were numbered but some "direct copies-not remixed" were not. After a while I gave up on numbering and just referred to the mixes by their titles.
Who made the label design:
The label design came from me, I used rub-off lettering that he purchased at a stationary store.You must remember - there was no such thing as computer graphics back then. If there was the label would have looked a much better.
After Rick left I kept the name as disco-queen as it was, because of the reputation! There was also a second [less flamboyant] label design that I and Rick used after the first 500 peel-&-stick labels were used up. CDs and computer editing caused the demise of hustling "dubs" around town.And the cost of "blank acetates" skyrocketed, as did other supplies such as the cutting styli.Also I was getting older, and didn't have the energy to stay out till 4 in the morning, clubbing so he stopped with making the acetates.
Who came up with the name Disco Queen:
The coice of name was Rick's idea. He named the label after the "queen of disco - Gloria Gaynor,"
Are you stil in the music buisness:
I am now an audio engineer and still does amateur music editing for special purposes, such as dance recitals, high school shows, etc.(strictly for fun).
-2.Info from Rick Gianatos.
Rick Gianatos was a Manhattan DJ who wants to get into studio remixing.He never got a chance from record companies so he started to make his own remixes to show record companies what he could do and show good dance floor reaction.
A friend of Rick had bought a lathe to cut acetates and so DiscoQueen records was born.All the records issued on DiscoQueen records were mixed by Rick Gianatos.
The Disco Queen remixes were all edited on tape (using a reel to reel with a very good pause button).There were only acetates pressed and never a vinyl copy. The remixes were pressed one at a time, to order, after initially making about 10 pieces to circulate to DJ's who would immediately wants everything he did.On some titles, as many as 150 to 200 acetates were produced and send to DJ's all over the USA.
DiscoQueen issued only remixes.Only one medley was issued in 1977. It was the First Choice medley.Rick was not interested in medleys, he only wanted to remix. Incidentally, the Disco Queen remixes never got Rick any work in those days.He went to Chicago and after several meetings with producers/artists/record companies (Eugene Record, Carl Davis, Michael Stokes) he remixed his first hit remix, Gene Chandler's "Get Down."
After that he made several mixes for several labels, such as:
AVI records:Lowrell "Overdose of Love"
James Wells "My Claim to Fame"LP
Seventh Avenue "Midnight in Manhattan" LP
20th Century Records:Edwin Starr, "Contact" and "Happy Radio"
Mercury:Gap Band "Oops Up Side Your Head" and "Early in the Morning"
Solar: Shalamar "Second Time Around" and "Right in the Socket"
Carrie Lucas:"Keep Smilin'" [reworking of "Got'ta Keep Dancing (to Keep From Crying)"]
A&M: Janet Jackson "Say You Do"
He then went on to produce several hit 12" singles, including:
Profile records:Jayne Edwards "I Got It","It Should Have Been Me.
" United Artists:Shirley Bassey "This is My Life" b/w "Copacabana"
RSO:d'Llegance "Share My Love" b/w "Midnight Ride"
And on his own label: Altair Records:-d'Llegance, "Chanson d'Llegance" -Love Twins "Miami Heat Wave" -Scherrie Payne (former lead for the Supremes), "I'm Not in Love"
Altair/Megatone:-Scherrie Payne "One Night Only."
From januar 2006 Rick is back in the musicbuisness again. His label's debut release, Pattie Brooks, "After Dark 2006" is "on the street" and getting ready to chart on the Billboard Dance Chart. It was No. 3 Breakout for the week of 1/7/06.