(The following appears on a panel accompanying an exhibit about Goldband Records, on display in the University of North Carolina, Wilson Library at Chapel Hill, N.C.). Article submitted by Steve Green of "Southern Folklife Collection".
When Eddie Shuler moved from Texas to Lake Charles, Louisiana in 1942 to work around the gulf coast area oil refineries as a dragline operator, he had little idea that music was to become the center of his world. But since that time, Eddie and his wife, Elsie, have been involved with music and with the constantly changing world of recording technology. Together, they have owned and managed a recording studio and record label (Goldband), a music publishing firm (TEK Publishing), a television repair business (Quick Service TV Repair), and a neighborhood music shop (Eddie's Music House). During the past half century, with Eddie at the studio controls, the Shulers have documented traditional and popular music forms and in many cases have helped create some of the South's most important and distinctive new musical styles and sounds.
In all began in the early '40s when Eddie chanced to meet members of the original Hackberry Ramblers, a group of musicians who had recorded almost twenty years earlier and who were still evolving in style and personnel. A brief performing stint with the Ramblers provided Eddie with an outlet for his informal pastime of song writing. Encouraged and inspired by this experience and by the obvious success of his songs, Eddie formed his own band, the All-Star Reveliers, and soon moved from performing into recording, publishing and ultimately, producing and distributing recordings on a variety of labels, the first of which was Goldband, began in 1945.
Although he learned later to keep a watchful eye on the record industry charts to see what record consumers were buying, Goldband was, in the beginning, more of a vehicle for promoting Eddie's own music . . . music that embraced the "hillbilly" sound that was sweeping the entire south in the postwar years.
Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours were an enormous influence on Eddie's style as can be heard on the song "Ace Of Love" (recorded ca. 1951) on the tape which accompanies this exhibit.
Sometime around 1948, Eddie recorded a near-blind Cajun accordion player named Iry LeJune. Eddie admits he did not have much understanding, initially, of what LeJune's music was all about (it was sung in Cajun French), but he agreed to make one record as a trial. Eddie released it on a separate label, Folk Star, and it sold so well, he recorded several more. Eddie helped get LeJune's records (along with his own) on Jukeboxes at dance halls and night spots around southwest Louisiana and east Texas. When Iry LeJune was suddenly killed in an accident, Eddie Shuler found himself in possession of a rich legacy of Cajun classics. Iry LeJune's music has not only continued to sell well since the 1950's, but the songs recorded by Eddie Shuler have contributed enormously to the revival of interest in the earlier Cajun music that is now a nationwide phenomenon. They ran a radio and TV repair service, and at one point during the '50's, they had a fleet of trucks on the road installing and servicing TV sets.
Since the 1950's, Lake Charles has reverberated with the sounds of regional artist. The breadth of music that has come out of Goldband Studios ranges through Cajun, blues, zydeco (black Creole dance music), boogie, gospel, country, rhythm and blues . . . and when it comes to rock-a-billy, rock 'n' roll, swamp pop, and "watermelon rock," Eddie Shuler has been there from the start defining what those musics are all about.
Dolly Parton, Freddie Fender, Mickey Gilley, Jo'el Sonnier, Rockin' Sidney, Boozoo Chavis, Al Ferrier, Gene Terry, Jukebox Boy Bonner, Guitar Junior, Katie Webster, Shorty LeBlanc, Aldus Roger, Sidney Brown and Johnny Jano, along with countless others have found their way forward in musical careers from beginnings at Goldband Studios in Lake Charles.
Today, Goldband continues to thrive and to do what it has always done, explore new sounds and encourage it's artist to pioneer new styles of music.
If you call Goldband on the phone, Eddie is likely to answer with an impish and outgoing "How may we help you?" Elsie quietly and steadfastly keeps the books even if it happens to be three a.m. on a hot and humid Louisiana night. Together, the Shulers reflect all that is good about people working for themselves in America. They have brought to the rest of us some great and lasting music, and this has been one of their goals . . . to create recordings that withstand the whims of public taste and that find acceptance and new meaning in each generation. Their accomplishments embody the American South and go beyond it, giving voice to the cultural diversity of the country as a whole.
In the Spring of 1995, the University of North Carolina acquired business records, studio logs, master tapes and promotional materials relating to Goldband Recording Corporation. Once these are fully arranged and described, the collection will be open to researchers and will be a rich resource for anyone interested in Southern studies, American music, media studies, popular culture, folklore and many other disciplines.
Steve Green, Sound and Image Librarian
Southern Historical and Folklife Collections
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