When we met, I had intended to ask Tam about a major project Reference Recordings had undertaken to record Fats Waller stride-piano pieces both direct-to-CD and direct-to-DMM-LP. Both processes are hardly straightforward, and Tam and Keith Johnson had expended considerable ingenuity to make them happen. Unfortunately, the test pressings revealed that the Bösendorfer computer-controlled player piano, which was essential to realizing the project, had had a defective damper pedal and the entire project had been, well, not canceled, but at least postponed. I asked Tam, therefore, what had led him to start a record company. Surely it didn't spring, fully formed, from a vacuum...?
Tam Henderson: More or less it did. But if I could go back and change one decision that I made in my life, I would not have gone into the record business. Even though it now appears that it's successful, it's been very, very difficult. But as to how I got into it? Well, my background is not in technical matters at all. Early on in my school days I wanted to go into electrical engineering, but when I got a taste of what that involved I realized it really wasn't for me. My only real love in life has been music, even as a child. I played a little piano, but not enough to ever be professional. I got a very late start in studying music—only at college—and I found out that even though I didn't have a great background in music, I could study music history. I got a degree, but then learned there's nothing much you can do with a BA in music history except perhaps get an MA, then a Ph.D., and then teach music history...
Read the full interview and story of Reference Recordings' beginnings on Stereophile.com!
Labels: Direct-to-Disc, Interview, John Atkinson, Reference Recordings, Stereophile, Stereophile Magazine, Tam Henderson