rca victor’s “gold standard series” launched in 1955

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RCA VIC­TOR’S “GOLD STAN­DARD SE­RIES” launched in 1955! The se­ries is known for keeping Elvis Presley records in print since 1958. Dozens of Presley num­bers went through as many as five major label de­signs, with many now selling for hun­dreds of dol­lars! But it was not con­ceived of as a resting place for Presley oldies.

In fact, for many years, I thought that the Gold Stan­dard Se­ries was in­au­gu­rated by RCA some­time in the late ’50s simply to keep Pres­ley’s product cur­rent! But other re­searchers un­cov­ered ev­i­dence that the reissue se­ries pre­dates Elvis even being with RCA Victor! In fact, be­fore there was the Gold Stan­dard Se­ries, RCA Victor had an­other se­ries for reis­suing older record­ings on 45 rpm records.

The ini­tial Elvis Gold Stan­dard 45s prob­ably reached re­tailers no sooner than late Oc­tober 1958.

In 1951, RCA Victor started re­leasing sides from the Big Band Era as part of their Col­lec­tors Issue se­ries. The first batch of records in this se­ries had “Col­lec­tors Issue” un­der­neath “RCA Victor” on their silver-gray la­bels. Some­time later in the year, that was changed to “45 RPM Col­lec­tors Issue,” which lasted until the demise of the se­ries a few years later.

In 1955, RCA Victor in­tro­duced its Gold Stan­dard Se­ries, which re­mained a part of the com­pa­ny’s reg­ular output for more than fifty years. Below are three ar­ti­cles from Bill­board mag­a­zine ad­dressing this se­ries and giving col­lec­tors and his­to­rians an ac­cu­rate set of dates for sev­eral as­pects of the records that were re­leased.


Series Launched: omnibus sleeve used with Glenn Miller records released on the Gold Standard Series in 1955.

Series Launched: Gold Standard reissue of Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" from 1955.

RCA Victor 447‑0043 fea­tured one of Glenn Miller’s sig­na­ture songs, In The Mood. Miller was still so pop­ular in the’50s that RCA had an om­nibus sleeve that read “Glenn Miller Plays His Fa­vorite Record­ings,” which could be used on the many 45s that were re­leased on the Gold Stan­dard Series.

Gold Standard Series launched (1955)

RCA Vic­tor’s new Gold Stan­dard Se­ries was first men­tioned in the De­cember 31, 1955, issue of Bill­board. Date­lined New York, De­cember 21, 1955, the ar­ticle was ti­tled, “RCA Single Cat­alog To Be All-Time Hits.” Here is the en­tire article:

Be­gin­ning with the New Year, RCA Vic­tor’s single record back-catalog will con­sist mainly of a re­fur­bished se­lec­tion of all-time hits to be grouped and mar­keted as the Gold Stan­dard Se­ries. The launching of this line is the cul­mi­na­tion of a year’s work in which the biggest sides in the line have been re­cou­pled and their sound ‘en­hanced rad­i­cally’ by Victor en­gi­neers. Spe­cial gold sleeves have been de­signed to house the disks. 

The Gold Stan­dard line for the coming year will number only 208 disks, pressed on both 78 and 45 rpm. [1] Of these, 146 will be pops, 17 Red Seal, and 45 C&W. The com­pany plans to re­view its sin­gles cat­alog once a year hence­forth to de­ter­mine which newer disks have earned Gold Stan­dard status. Or­di­narily, Victor re­vises its pop sin­gles line twice a year to cut out reg­ular pop dead­wood. The reg­ular sin­gles line, apart from the new se­ries, will now con­tain cur­rent live sellers up to a three-year age limit.

Ac­cording to Harry Jenkins, who, as mer­chan­dise man­ager of the Victor sin­gles di­vi­sion, is over­seeing the new project, all ‘dogs’ have been elim­i­nated from the peren­nial cou­plings by such artists as Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Fats Waller, etc. For ex­ample, Dorsey’s I’ll Be Seeing You now is to be cou­pled with I’ll Never Smile Again. The same artist’s Boogie Woogie—his all-time best seller—is to be backed by Opus I, etc.

At the outset, Victor plans no spe­cial pro­mo­tion for the se­ries and will so­licit or­ders in the ‘rou­tine’ way, ac­cording to Jenkins. Jenkins re­cently took over the Gold Stan­dard ad­min­is­tra­tion from Bob Yorke, who in­au­gu­rated the project. In the re­cent com­pany re­align­ment, Yorke was upped to sales and mer­chan­dise man­ager of the album department.”


Series Launched: cover for Gold Standard issue of Louis Armstrong EP known as "Rockin' Chair" from 1958.

Series Launched: black label record for Louis Armstrong Gold Standard EP known as "Rockin' Chair" from 1958.

Series Launched: maroon label record for Louis Armstrong Gold Standard EP known as "Rockin' Chair" from 1958.

RCA Victor EPA-5000 was this Louis Arm­strong album. Typ­ical of Victor EPs, the record does not have a title so, tech­ni­cally, the title of the album is the title on the jacket, which is “Louis Arm­strong.” To dif­fer­en­tiate it from other, sim­ilar un­ti­tled Arm­strong EPs, col­lec­tors refer to this as the “Rockin’ Chair” album. EPs in this se­ries can be found wit black and ma­roon la­bels, the latter usu­ally being the rarer.

Gold Standard EPs (1958)

An ar­ticle ti­tled “Victor Pushes New EP Se­ries With Tie-In” in the May 5, 1958, issue of Bill­board an­nounced a new line of seven-inch, 45 rpm, extended-play (EP) al­bums on the Gold Stan­dard Series.

“RCA Victor is kicking off its new 45 EP Gold Stan­dard se­ries with a big Procter & Gamble pro­mo­tional tie-in in­volving Gleem tooth­paste and Pace Home per­ma­nent. De­tails of the tie-in were han­dled by George Parkhill and were de­signed to create heavy traffic at the dealer level. Product in the new se­ries in­cludes 30 al­bums, all es­tab­lished sellers.

Each EP con­tains four hits by such names as Benny Goodman, Perry Como, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Kay Starr, Louis Arm­strong, Frank Sinatra, Harry Be­la­fonte, etc. Tunes are top pop fa­vorites. Pack­ages are poly­eth­ylene wrapped and spe­cially designed.

To pro­mote the se­ries, P&G will offer a spe­cial 45 EP All Time Golden Hits for 50 cents, plus a coupon from ei­ther Gleem tooth­paste or Pace Home per­ma­nent. This High­lighter disk in­cludes six of the top se­lec­tions from the en­tire series.

P&G pro­mo­tion in­cludes a full page ad in Life Mag­a­zine, week of June 2, fea­turing the High­lighter album; net­work radio cam­paign on NBC’s Mon­itor and Band­stand shows; point of sale dis­plays in 23,000 su­per­mar­kets, drug and va­riety stores. (Over eight mil­lion order coupons will reach cus­tomers via these displays.)

RCA Victor has pre­pared large four-color streamers plug­ging the six EP’s rep­re­sented in the High­lighter disk; an at­trac­tive browser box to show­case the en­tire se­ries; a spe­cial con­sumer sup­ple­ment on the series—eight pages in black and gold colors and a big ad campaign.”


Series Launched: Gold Standard reissue of Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog" from 1958.

De­spite Don’t Be Cruel being the much bigger hit in the US when RCA Victor re­leased this Gold Stan­dard record, Hound Dog was the des­ig­nated A‑side. Most of Pres­ley’s biggest hits would go through sev­eral changes in label de­sign as part of the Gold Stan­dard Se­ries with some of the later press­ings being among the rarest com­mer­cially re­leased do­mestic Elvis records.

New Gold Standard 45s (1958)

The first no­tice of the new line of Gold Stan­dard Se­ries ap­peared in the Oc­tober 20, 1958, issue of Bill­board in a short piece ti­tled “Victor Adds to Gold Stan­dard Sin­gles List.” A sim­ilar ar­ticle showed up in the Oc­tober 25, 1958, issue of Cash Box. In an ar­ticle ti­tled, Victor Adds To Single Gold Stan­dard Se­ries,” the Cash Box ed­itor noted:

“RCA Victor is re­leasing an ad­di­tional 38 Gold Stan­dard Sin­gles within the next few weeks, it was an­nounced by Ray Clark, Man­ager, Plan­ning and Mer­chan­dising Single Records. The Gold Stan­dard se­ries con­sists of the biggest single hits by top artists.

In­cluded in the re­lease are 18-million-copy sellers by Elvis Presley, among them, Heart­break Hotel, Hound Dog, and All Shook Up, as well as Harry Belafonte’s, Mary’s Boy Child, which has racked up well over a mil­lion sales all over the world.

Other artists whose records will be re­leased are Perry Como, Lou Monte, Hugo Win­ter­halter, Jaye P. Morgan, Jim Reeves, Porter Wag­oner, Chet Atkins, Ames Brothers, The Three Suns, Eddie Fisher, and Hank Locklin.

First is­sued in 1952, the Gold Stan­dard Se­ries has re­ceived wide­spread public ac­cep­tance. Over the years, RCA Victor has con­tinued to add the best selling hits by its stellar artists to the se­ries. There are now 235 Gold Stan­dards in the catalogue.”

The ar­ticle does not men­tion that RCA Victor began a new num­bering se­ries for these new Gold Stan­dard sin­gles in 1958, starting with 447‑0600. As the ar­ticle men­tions, Victor in­cluded eigh­teen Elvis ti­tles in this new series.

Of the ini­tial re­leases in the 0600s, only 0606 wasn’t a Presley title. It re­mained all Elvis into 1962 when 0632 and 0633 were not as­signed to Presley records.

From then to the end of the 0600 line in 1973, the Gold Stan­dard Se­ries was, by de­fault, the “Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard Series.”


Series Launched: front and back of omnibus Gold Standard sleeve used from 1958 into 1965.

FEA­TURED IMAGE: The image at the top of this page is of the two sides of the om­nibus com­pany sleeve that RCA Victor used for all its Gold Stan­dard sin­gles from 1958 into 1965. For more in­for­ma­tion on the Gold Stan­dard sleeves, read “The Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard 45s Part 2 (Com­pany Sleeves).”



Elvis GoldSuit

POST­SCRIP­TU­ALLY, the Cash Box ar­ticle above was not date­lined but news items in the en­ter­tain­ment world usu­ally ap­peared in both Cash Box and Bill­board mag­a­zines two weeks after they oc­curred. This would mean that the ini­tial batch of Elvis Gold Stan­dard 45s reached re­tailers no sooner than late Oc­tober 1958 and pos­sibly not until November.

Fi­nally, for a his­tory of the Col­lector Se­ries and more in­for­ma­tion on the Gold Stan­dard Se­ries, refer to Frank Daniels’ piece on the Gold Stan­dard Se­ries on his Frik­tech site.



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