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  The History of Everest Records - When Harry Met Bert...

When Harry Belock set up Everest Records in 1958, his vision was that the label would release high class recordings in the jazz, easy listening and classical fields in a bid to showcase the quality of his Belock Instrument Corporation's recording machines. Although, at the time, Belock's company was heavily involved with the American military's radar and ballistic missile programmes, Belock himself was an authority on sound and in the thirties had been a sound man in Hollywood.

By 1958, he was pioneering multi-channel mixing consoles and was recording on half inch tape and even 35mm film. To fulfil his vision, a state of the art recording studio was built in Bayside on Long Island, where Westrex was commissioned to build the studios to his exacting high standards and at no small cost.

Each mixing desk is reputed to have cost $20,000 (a small fortune at the time) and they were kitted out with Neumann U 47 microphones. To oversee the label's jazz and easy listening productions, Belock hired Raymond Scott, a Julliard School of Music trained musician who had already made a name for himself via his work at CBS Radio, NBC Television and his passion for 'electronic music'.

To manage the studios and to create a catalogue of classical recordings, Belock brought in Bert Whyte, a former General Manager of MGM's subsidiary Perspectasound. Whyte's wife, Ruth would be his assistant. Together they would put Everest Records on the map, releasing high class stereo LPs and breaking new ground by issuing 71/2 i.p.s. stereo reel to reel tapes at the same time.
And they did it by contracting some of the best conductors of the day, including Malcolm Sargent, Adrian Boult, Josef Krips and Eugène Goossens.

Leopold Stokowski was another of the early signings conducting The Stadium Symphony Orchestra of New York (actually The New York Philharmonic 'moonlighting' to get around contractual niceities). Whyte recorded many of these classical pieces in the ballroom of The Manhattan Centre in New York and then came to England to record the London Philharmonic Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra in either Walthamstow Town Hall or Watford Town Hall. These three venues gave Bert Whyte a layout that allowed him to use just three microphones to record the orchestra in complete balance.

Before moving on to RCA Victor's classical division Red Seal, Whyte created an impressive catalogue of recordings for Harry Belock that stands the test of time and has been sought after by collectors for many years. When he died in 1994, praise for his pioneering work on the popularization of stereo recordings was universal. But the volume of recordings and the cost of maintaining such a high standard was a drain on Everest's resources.

Barely two years after its creation, Everest Records cut back its classical side, opting for a more 'catch all' range of activities in the pop field. By 1962 it had been sold to Belock's accountant. The Bayside studio limped along for a few more years and then was broken up, its equipment eventually being sold to Robert Fine who used it for recordings released on Mercury and Command Classics.

Now, fifty years on, it's time again to listen to the wonderful legacy that is the Everest Records classical catalogue.

Austin Powell, March 2008