The Paramount Record Co. was started in 1915 as a division of the Wisconsin Chair Company in
Grafton, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Chair Company manufactured cabinets for Edison Phonographs
before going into the phonograph manufacturing business itself in 1915. In 1917, Paramount started
manufacturing records in order to have records to sell in their retail stores.
In 1922, it began a series of "race" recordings. At this time "Race" was the name applied to recordings by and for black people. The first black artist Paramount recorded, at it's New York Recording Laboratory, was Alberta Hunter in mid-1922. Paramount, along with Gennett of Richmond, Indiana, and Okeh of New York, actively scouted the south for black artists for their labels. Paramount was responsible for recording a lot of pre-World War II blues, including the seminal Charlie Patton and Blind Lemon Jefferson. The first recordings by Patton were actually made in the Richmond, Indiana studio of Gennett Records, because the recording studio Paramount was constructing in Grafton, Wisconsin in 1929 was not finished. Patton's recordings were released on Paramount, and are now some of the rarest and most expensive 78rpm recordings in the collector's market. In 1932, due to the severe depression, Wisconsin Chair closed down the Paramount label.
In the late 1940s, Wisconsin Chair revived the Paramount label, but issued mostly jazz releases. In the early 1950s, a series of jazz albums was released and most, if not all, were 10-inch LPs. There was also a calypso music series. This incarnation of the Paramount label evidently closed down for good in the late 1950s.
The Paramount Records owned by Wisconsin Chair Company had no relation to Paramount Pictures or Paramount Pictures' 1960s-1970s record label of the same name, nor did it have any connection with the Paramount Theater Chain's record label, ABC-Paramount.
We would appreciate any additions or corrections to this discography. Just send them to us via e-mail. Both Sides Now Publications is an information web page. We are not a catalog, nor can we provide the records listed below. We have no association with Paramount Records or Wisconsin Chair Company. Should you be interested in acquiring albums listed in this discography (which are all out of print), we suggest you see our Frequently Asked Questions page and follow the instructions found there. This story and discography are copyright 2000 by Mike Callahan.