Made Pat Boone a star

Randy Wood, founder of Dot Records, which grew from a small R&B-oriented Tennessee imprint to a ’50s pop music power, died in La Jolla, Calif., on April 10. He was 94.

Wood died after taking a fall in his home, his son John told the Los Angeles Times.

Wood founded Dot in 1951 after receiving a flood of orders stimulated by a show on high-powered Nashville R&B station WLAC sponsored by Randy’s Records, his Gallatin, Tenn., retail and mail order operation.

Mentored by Nashville record man Jim Bulleit of Bullet Records, Wood established Dot as an R&B label catering to his mail order customers and hit with singles by Tommy Brown and the Griffin Brothers.

The label took off in earnest when Wood focused on pop acts. His biggest hitmaker was Pat Boone. The clean-cut vocalist established himself with covers of R&B hits by Fats Domino (“Ain’t That a Shame,” No. 1, 1955), Little Richard (“Tutti Frutti,” No. 12, and “Long Tall Sally,” No. 8, both 1956) and Ivory Joe Hunter (“I Almost Lost My Mind,” No. 1, 1956).

Boone, who later reached No. 1 with the dreamy teen ballads “Don’t Forbid Me,” “Love Letters in the Sand” and “April Love,” charted an incredible 59 45s on Dot through 1966.

Dot also scored hits with Kentucky pop vocal group the Hilltoppers (which included Billy Vaughn, later the label’s musical director), doo-wop act the Dell-Vikings and the macabre novelty artist Nervous Norvus (“Transfusion”).

Wood, who relocated his label to Hollywood in 1956, sold the company to Paramount Pictures in 1957. The label was briefly resuscitated in 1986 with a self-titled solo album by T Bone Burnett.

In 1968, he established Ranwood Records in L.A. as a home for Lawrence Welk’s MOR pop catalog; Welk bought out Wood’s interest in 1979, and today the label is part of the Welk Music Group.

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