The great blues player Robert Johnson had two recording sessions in Texas. One at the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio on November 23, 1936, and one that spanned two different days of recording at 508 Park, Dallas. Elijah Wald, author of Escaping the Delta, discusses the second recordings.
An excerpt from the upcoming documentary on 508 Park.
Directed by Alan Govenar
Produced by 508 Park Project committee
508 Park was built as the Vitagraph/Warner Brothers Exchange Building in 1929. It was built in the part of Dallas known as “Film Row.” This 23,000 square foot building included vaults to house highly-combustible films, and a second floor filled with offices for Warner Brothers. The first floor housed a “Warner Club.”
The third floor initially housed the Brunswick Radio Corporation which was formed as a subsidiary of Warner Brothers Pictures in April 1930 for the distribution of records on Brunswick and Vocalion labels. In 1931 Brunswick Radio introduced the Melotone label.
* Source: Jack L. Warner Collection, USC Cinematic Arts Library
In December of 1931 Brunswick Radio was sold or leased with certain restrictions to the American Record Corporation and ARC took over the record distribution operation on the third floor of 508 Park. ARC named the Brunswick Radio assets it acquired Brunswick Record Corporation which operated distribution and A&R activities from 1931 to 1938 when Brunswick left 508 Park. The third floor was used intermittently for different purposes by several groups from 1938 to 1941 when Decca America signed a lease and established a record distribution point. Decca Distribution Corporation operated from the third floor of 508 Park until the late 1950’s.
But, during the month of June, 1937, the third floor was the site of a field recording session that recorded a number of artists including Robert Johnson.
American Record Corporation
Dallas Recording Session
June 6 – 25, 1937
508 Park Avenue
- Al Dexter and his Troopers
- Al Dexter and Luke Owens
- Bill Nettles and his Dixie Blue Boys
- Black Boy Shine
- Blue Ridge Playboys
- Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys
- Clifford Gross and Muriel Campbell
- Crystal Springs Ramblers
- Curly Gray
- Donnell Lezah (personal recording)
- Grace and Curly Gray
- John Boyd and his Southerners
- Light Crust Doughboys
- Lummie Lewis & his Merrymakers
- Robert Johnson
- Roy Newman and his Boys
- The Chuck Wagon Gang
- The Hi-Flyers
- The Saddle Tramps
- The Nite Owls
- W. Lee O'Daniel and his Hillbilly Boys
- Zeke Williams and his Rambling Cowboys
Columbia Dallas Master Number Listing by Charles Garrod and Ed Novitsky, 1995 www.78discography.com
In 1963, the time of the last renovation of 508 Park, the building was practically gutted of all its interior original walls. It has been empty now for twenty years and has been vandalized repeatedly. The distinctive exterior light sconces disappeared years ago. While many complaints were raised about the homeless, most incidents were the work of others. Court records show that the people apprehended for vandalizing the property were not homeless.
In June 2004, Eric Clapton recorded his sessions for Robert Johnson at 508 Park Avenue. Videos made of his recording sessions include references to the fact that 508 had been abandoned for years. Video 1 - Video 2
(Watch this page for updates and exciting information about the recording history of 508 Park.)