Celebrate Bernard Stollman's life; Founder of ESP-Disk’, Pioneering Independent Record Label

Celebration of life to all who wish to remember Bernard Stollman Founder of ESP-Disk and Friend to many.
By: ESP Disk Records, Bernard Stollman
Bernard Stollman ESP Disk Records
Bernard Stollman ESP Disk Records
SONOMA, Calif. - May 7, 2015 - PRLog -- Bernard Stollman Founder of ESP-Disk founder passed away on early Monday morning, April 20, of complications related to cancer.

There will be a celebration of life on June 7, 2015 at 4 pm EST located at

The Alchemical Theatre Laboratory 104 W 14th St. New York, NY 10011

Please email with any and all questions regarding; wanting to participate , playing music and any other questions.

email  * rememberingbernardstollman@gmail.com

*In the subject line please put Celebration

We do not know how many people will be attending .. If you plan on attending ..Please drop us a email so we may have an idea the number of people attending. Let us know if you will be playing music so we may prepare.

*This is a open invitation to all who wish to come and share, Play music and talk about how Bernard touched your life .

“The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” Our stories of Bernard are the atoms of his life now. In telling the stories of Benard’s life we hold him in the universe of our hearts. If you are so moved,Please come forward and share a brief story that exemplifies how Bernard was to you, and the gifts he brought to your life.

Here is what his brother Steve Stollman wrote and I am sure there is so much more we all can remember about Bernard .. He was an amazing man ..

In the early 1960s something was brewing, and one of the people who turned up the heat was Bernard Stollman. His first release was entitled Ni Kantu in Esperanto (We sing in Esperanto) and in recent years he was supporting efforts to develop language-translation programs based on the use of this artificial language as an intermediate step in more accurate and natural transitions from one tongue to another.

His greatest contribution, though, was in the release of albums by such eventual Jazz luminaries as Sun Ra and Albert Ayler, and establishment-challenging groups like the Fugs, establishing his reputation as an important mold-breaker and critic of the status quo. One of the changes he pursued was the granting to the performing artists of complete creative control of the material being recorded. While that may often be the rule today, it was virtually unheard of at the time. Producers and record company executives exerted their influence over what was heard in an absolute way, and the granting of this right to performers was an antidote, opposing this practice over time.

A lawyer whose clients sometimes included well-known performers such as Dizzy Gillespie, he also was an Assistant Attorney General for New York State for ten years. In recent years he was instrumental in making available rare recordings by Billie Holiday and other revered jazz performers. The book Always in Trouble (Wesleyan University Press) combined his autobiography with oral histories collected by Jason Weiss that documented his career and its many ramifications included many varied accounts of those tumultuous times, as related by the musicians he recorded. He was a confidante and adviser to many of them over their careers.

He was convinced that ESP-Disk’ was so unpopular with certain elements of the power structure, due to its circulation of what was considered “dangerous” sounds, that a successful attempt was made to sink his company. He discovered that his recordings of such once-popular groups as the Fugs and Pearls Before Swine were being bootlegged in large numbers, thus undermining the economic viability of his enterprise. Songs such as “Kill for Peace” and the anti-war classic “Uncle John” were regarded as unpatriotic. The collusion of nefarious elements in the music industry with governmental authorities was sufficient to put him, in effect, out of business by the mid-’70s.

Polytonal, polyrhythmic, free improvisational music put aside all of the conventions that had characterized jazz previously. The results were also considered disruptive, and disturbing as well, which added to the motivation to put a lid on his pioneering enterprise. In fact, this music was also dismissed by many players of the more established versions, though over time such giants as John Coltrane accepted musicians such as Pharaoh Sanders, whose first album was on ESP, into their groups, and these distinctions have largely disappeared. Having just celebrated the 50th anniversary of the formation of his company, so many of the radical changes that he initiated have now become commonplace. Independent record labels, a rare anomaly when he began, are now the dominant force in the industry. Few realize the hard work and courage that it took to foment these changes and those who were willing to flaunt the rules to make creative efforts prevail. “The artists alone decide what you will hear on their ESP-Disk” was the motto, and it was true.

Mr. Stollman, who passed away on early Monday morning, April 19, was 85 years old, a child of Eastern European immigrants. He had no children and is survived by three brothers and two sisters.

Red Velvet Media
Email:***@redvelvetmedia.com Email Verified
Tags:ESP Disk, Bernard Stollman, Celebration of Life, Records
Industry:Entertainment, Music
Location:Sonoma - California - United States
Account Email Address Verified     Account Phone Number Verified     Disclaimer     Report Abuse
Page Updated Last on: May 07, 2015

Like PRLog?
Click to Share