4 Star ****
1945 - 1980s
The 4-Star label was formed in 1945 in Los Angeles, by Richard A. ''Dick'' Nelson, with his partners Bill McCall and Cliff McDonald, as a subsidiary to their already established Gilt-Edge label.
By late 1946, when the label was on the brink of bankruptcy, the ambitious McCall invested $5,000 and acquired full control of the company. He quickly cornered the early post-war market in the burgeoning fields of country and western (4-Star) and rhythm and blues (Gilt-Edge). McCall moved the label out to Pasadena, California, during the 1948 AFM recording strike.
In 1950 McCall made the shrewd move of launching a custom pressing service whereby artists without a record contract could pay to have 4-Star press up a limited run of discs, which they could then sell at their gigs - the "OP" (Other People) series.
Gene Autry and Joe Johnson (owners of Challenge Records) bought 4-Star Records in 1961 and subsequently leased the masters to Pickwick for several years.
In the late 1970s, producer Joe Johnson headed up an organization that purchased 4 Star Records and moved all of its operations to Nashville, Tennessee. Johnson insisted on building state-of-the-art studios and bringing in the best talent available to run them.
4 Star's financial problems continued to mount, and in the early 1980s the record company was closed and the catalog absorbed by its creditors. Sony/ATV Music Publishing owns the catalogue today.