West Wind & Country Beat Records
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West Wind Records
Mike Jann and Tony Andreason developed an interest in country music going back to their school days when they would listen to the KSTP Barn Dance on the radio and watch the live shows that were held around town and later watch the Barn Dance when it became a TV show. Mike and Tony both sang and played guitar and performed as a duo for private parties. The two won a talent contest and used the winning money to record two original songs at Kay Bank (pressed up as an acetate only).
In the late 1950’s Tony made the switch to rock’n’roll and played with Jim Thaxter and the Travelers and then with The Trashmen who scored a national hit with ”Surfin’ Bird” in late 1963/early 1964. All through his rock’n’roll days, Tony maintained an interest in country music. Mike Jann hauled his recording equipment around to various venues The Trashmen played at and recorded the band live.
It was Mike Jann who had introduced Tony and The Trashmen to Larry LaPole, a co-worker at the local newspaper, who wrote the B-side (“King of the Surf”) for “Surfin’ Bird” (writing the song within a two day deadline imposed by the band). Mike Jann had also played a tape for Tony consisting of songs written and performed by Larry LaPole that was recorded in Nashville. With Mike, Tony, and Larry having a shared interest in country music, they decided to start up West Wind Records, to record local country artists including Larry and Tony as well as other country artists from outside of Minnesota.
Starting with a 45 by Larry LaPole that came out in January, 1966, West Wind Records (which also included Country Beat Records and Police Records) released sixteen 45’s and two albums, winding up with a 45 by Mike Cutter from February, 1979.
West Wind Records played a vital role in launching the career of local singer Marilyn Sellars, who was signed to Mega Records in Nashville in 1973 and had a national hit with “One Day at a Time” in 1974 which went to Number 19 on the Country Charts and Number 37 on the Billboard Hot 100.
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Interview PART ONE