About a month ago, when we found a 1959 record album with Coca-Cola artwork on the cover, we asked the question, “Who is Albie Louw (the recording artist)?” I wasn’t sure we’d get an answer. Lo and behold not only did we find out who he was, but a blog reader actually put us in touch with him! Mr. Louw is now 85 years old, living in South Africa and still playing piano gigs weekly! We’ll share the complete story of Mr. Louw, the Coca-Cola album cover, and even his memories of Coke growing up in two parts. Here’s part one:
Mr. Louw started playing the piano as early as age 6, and began taking lessons at age 9. He became a very popular player while in college and he was unofficially dubbed “Cape Town’s Keyboard King.” Eventually, Mr. Louw landed a record deal to make somewhere in the neighborhood of ten albums for his recording label. His first album was entitled, “In Tune with South Africa”, and he continued each year with a new volume of the “In Tune” series.
The album with the Coca-Cola cover – “Wonderful One”
“Wonderful One” was Volume 9 of the “In Tune” series, distributed internationally on the EMI label “His Master’s Voice” beginning in 1959. We have letters in our files from the Coke offices in both Argentina and South Africa about the record’s release in each respective country. The letter dated December 30, 1959 was sent to the international marketing department and it reads, “Enclosed herewith, I am sending you a jacket of a phonograph record recently released by Columbia Records in Argentina. You will notice that the illustration on the front of the jacket is a reproduction of a color photograph from our 1958 Pattern Campaign.”
Another letter written from our Johannesburg office on April 7, 1960 reads, “I thought you might be interested in seeing how we capitalized in conjunction with a local recording company, on the wonderful New York produced calendar material.” [The original Coke ad featured on the cover was produced by our office in New York and featured in calendars]. These letters in our Archives and a photocopy of the album were the only evidence we had that this record even existed. From there, we scoured the web to see if we could find it, and finally tracked it down from an obscure record collector’s website out of South Africa.
Mr. Louw went on to tell me that the songs on the album were all played in two sittings, roughly 20 minutes per side with a small pause in between each selection. They were recorded in this manner without any breaks for sound quality and consistency.
Stay tuned for part two which includes Mr. Louw’s story of seeing the Coca-Cola album cover art for the first time, as well as his memories of Coke from his childhood.
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