These pages are the
definitive authority on the history of KAJAC RECORD CORPORATION,
Management, Employees, Recording Engineers, 16 track studio, Studio
Musicians, Arrangers, PR, Promotion/Marketing People, Record
Distributors, Record Labels Owned, Music Publishing Companies Owed and
what services they offered to National, Regional, Local Recording
Artists, Bands, Groups. Jingles That were created for Ad Agencies,
Businesses by In-House jingles writers and arrangers.
KAJAC RECORD CORPORATION
16 Track Recording Studio
“The Iowa Sound”
Carlisle, Iowa (circa) 1969 – 1980
A Midwestern Success Story, The Beginning
It didn’t happen over night. It took a lot of hard work by a group of very dedicated and determined people. Harold L. Luick, the founder and motivating force behind KAJAC Record Corporation believed in the diverse and creative talent available throughout Iowa/Midwest Area. He was not put-off by those who claimed that he couldn’t develop a successful national outlet for quality traditional country, bluegrass, gospel and western swing music from a small Iowa farm community. Boy, were they ever wrong.
“I wanted to give Iowa/Midwest talent an opportunity to be heard, seen, and appreciated by people all over the world” I wanted to show people that Iowa didn’t just grow corn,” Luick said. And, he did just that, and much more.
With a cadre of loyal helpers and supporters such as Tom Reeves, Polly Haerer, Don Laughlin, Larry Heaberlin, Dennis Smith, Larry Jensen, Shirley Ramus, Gary Audsley, Bobby Baker, Paul Stover, William Schooler, John Whiting, Jim Phinney, Dennis Dyer, Loren Gonyea, Jack Selover, Jack Nelson, Robbie Wittkowski, KAJAC went from an idea, to a concept, and then, it became a reality.
When Polly and I first met Harold in 1969, he had already been working on the studio concept for a few years. Not only did he have financial, backers lined up, he had identified a cost-effective site for the studio (an old movie theater in Carlisle) and was converting it into the studio and office space he needed.
Through contacts with Iowa musicians, Lenny Hudson, Bill Ober, Bart Goldman, Bob Everhart, Roger Collier, Rich Richmond, John Krantz, Keven Clemens, Ray Morris, Bob Parker, Darrell C. Thomas, Neal Herrmuth, Todd Vrban, Larry Andrews, Charlie Smith, Background Singers: Mary Gordon, Sandy Hammond, Kathy McCaughey, Cathy Bishop, promoters: Little Richie Johnson, Smoky Smith and others seeking opportunities in the recording and entertainment business, Harold built a base for launching a recording studio, that offered national promotion, distribution, record pressing services, for recordings made in Iowa and Nashville. He accomplished his goal.
For Us, It All Began In 1969-70 . . .
In the fall of 1969, Polly Haerer was teaching music in the Urbandale School District, in Des Moines, Iowa. I was Director of the Office of School-Community Relations for the Des Moines Independent Community School District. Among other challenges, my job brought me into daily contact with the local, regional, and national print and broadcast media. One of the TV reporters for the local NBC affiliate station, WHO-TV and Radio, was a tall, dark (some might have said handsome), and aspiring songwriter named Gus Horn. I knew that he was trying to get songs published and he knew that my wife, Polly, an accomplished musician, was interested in writing and arranging music.
Half jokingly, I suggested that they get together and see if they couldn’t help each other achieve their goals. He thought the idea had merit.
A month later, Polly and I ran into Gus Horn at Merle Hay Shopping Plaza in Des Moines. He told us that a group of dedicated country and western music lovers were about to launch a state-of-the-art 16-track commercial recording studio, in Carlisle, Iowa. The mover and shaker behind the project was Harold Luick, a businessman, entrepreneur, musician, and long time resident of the Des Moines area. According to Gus, Harold was looking for all kinds of talent – people with business experience, musicians, recording engineers, performing artists, and financial investors. We set a date for Polly and Gus to get together to see if they could collaborate on some saleable material.
Shortly thereafter, I called Harold Luick and scheduled a meeting to discuss the possibility of Polly and me getting involved in his recording studio venture. That meeting turned into three more brainstorming sessions.
We were both convinced that to succeed in the recording business, you had to be able to produce more than just local voice-over narrations for radio-television commercials and sound tracks for corporate slide show presentations. Those, activities and the production of 45 and 33/RPM records, distributed and promoted regionally and nationwide, were, in our judgment, where the real money could be made. We were also interested in artist management and related marketing / promotion services. Shortly thereafter, Polly joined the firm full-time as administrative Assistant to the President, Studio Musician/Producer and General Manager of KAJAC’s music publishing entities --- Tall Corn Music Publishing (BMI) and Mid-America Music Publishing (ASCAP). I came on board part-time as National Record Promotions Coordinator and Executive Vice President, Secretary, and Director.
During the three years before KAJAC had its official grand opening in May of 1973, we were all very busy working on various aspects of the organization while promoting and producing records for local musicians and educational institutions, commercials, and records for performers traveling through Des Moines. It was hectic, exciting, fun, and a learning experience we continue to draw upon. At the same time, Harold and I were busy soliciting new investors and negotiating Nashville production and promotion services for a select group of artists, we ultimately released on the KAJAC label nationally. Those activities continued through the summer of 1974.
KAJAC’s Scope Of Services And Artists
As our basic list of services began to develop, the studio was being retrofitted for new16-track state-of-the-art MCI recording equipment. Harold Luick, Tom Reeves, vice president production and engineering, Polly Haerer, and others were busy producing custom record sessions, commercials, and related services to an ever-increasing list of clients.
Harold and Tom joined Dennis Worley and me is producing a monthly Midwest Entertainment Review trade publication promoting artists and activities, client activities, and Iowa state-wide musical events. At the same time, Harold and I were busy wheeling and dealing with our National Record Promoter – Little Richie Johnson, record producer/distributor Shelby Singleton, and other Nashville, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago recording industry luminaries.
Based on actual and projected studio revenues, we were able to acquire an SBA Loan to further secure our financial position, and launch artists on the KAJAC label nationally, via the KAJAC Studio and Nashville recording sessions. Some of the early artists released nationally on the KAJAC label and promoted by Little Richie Johnson included:
Early KAJAC Artists
“As Time Goes On” P. Haerer
“Tarnished Angel” R. Miller
Polly and I are proud to have played a small part in the KAJAC story. The fact that it helped Harold Luick’s dream, and the dreams of others (like Rhonda Vincent who cut her first record in our studio when she was 11 years old, and release on the Kajac Venjence Lable) to come true, just makes it that much more enjoyable. –
Writers: Deane and Polly Haerer
17 Cypress Ct
Trophy Club, Texas 76262