SEPTEMBER 16, 1963 – “She Loves You” by The Beatles was released by the tiny American label Swan Records in the US. Although the song was currently #1 in the UK, the single was ignored in the US until 1964 when it would reach the top of the US Pop chart only after “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” issued by Capitol, went to #1 in 1964. The label bears the message “Don’t drop out” to encourage kids to stay in school.
Swan came into the spotlight after EMI Records UK leased “She Loves You” and, as Swan 4152, it became an American #1 hit on March 21, 1964. Swan also assumed the rights to the German version of “She Loves You,” “Sie Liebt Dich” which peaked at #97 in 1964.
The success of the “She Loves You” single kept Swan going while other small record labels were snowed under by the British Invasion, but it finally closed its doors in 1967. The Swan and Lawn master recordings were acquired by the UK reissue label, Rollercoaster Records. The company was initially built on the strength of staff producer/writers Bob Crewe and Frank Slay
Outside of “She Loves You”, Swan’s most remembered hit was “Palisades Park” in 1962, written by Chuck Barris, and performed by the most successful artist on the label, Freddy Cannon, who also scored hits with “Tallahassee Lassie” and “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans” before moving to Warner Brothers in 1964. Another hit for Swan was a release of the Rockin’ Rebels’ lone hit, the instrumental “Wild Weekend” (which in fact was written as a radio jingle for a Buffalo disc jockey). Link Wray, best remembered for his classic instrumental “Rumble”, had a modest hit at Swan with “Jack The Ripper.”
Swan was co-owned by Bernie Binnick and Tony Mammarella, with Dick Clark reported to having a financial investment in it. When the payola scandals of the early 1960s broke, Clark divested himself of all of his outside interests to avoid conflict of interest. The label was distributed by Cameo-Parkway Records, which at the time was the hottest label for teenage dance crazes (“The Twist”, “Limbo Rock,” “(Do) The Bird,” “Wah-Watusi,” “Mashed Potato Time,” “Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes),” “Hully Gully Baby,” “Bristol Stomp” and “(Do the) New Continental”).
The first hit for the Swan label was “Click Clack” by Dickie Doo and the Don’ts, a studio recording produced by Gerry Granahan under the pseudonym that was actually the nickname Dick Clark called his infant son, Dick Clark, Jr.
In 1958, Mary Swan recorded “My Heart Belongs to Only You,” and in 1959, she had a moderate hit with “Prisoner of Love.”
The Three Degrees had a moderate hit with a cover version of the Five Keys’ “Close Your Eyes”, but scored better on Roulette with their remake of the Chantel’s “Maybe” and “When Will I See You Again” on Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International Records.
In 2007, Bruce Spizer released the book “The Beatles Swan Song: ‘She Loves You’ & Other Records.” It contains a detailed account of the records of The Beatles on the Swan label, as well as United Artists, Decca, Atco, MGM and Polydor, plus a section about the Capitol releases from the 70s and 80s.