Bethlehem Records

Bethlehem logo

Based in New York and Hollywood, Bethlehem Records was founded by a Swiss émigré, Gus Wildi, in 1953.  The label embarked on jazz releases produced  among others by its A&R man Creed Taylor. The label distinguished itself by giving it’s artists significant creative control and was among the first to recognise the power of album cover art, many designed by Burt Goldblatt. Taylor left Bethlehem in 1956 to join ABC-Paramount , where he went on to found Impulse! Creatively, Bethlehem never really recovered from the loss of Taylor.

Bethlehem licensed London Records for releases in the UK, many with original Goldblatt covers and superior pressing by Decca, making the first UK releases an attractive alternative to US Bethlehem originals.

In 1958, Wildi gave Syd Nathan’s major label King Records half ownership in return for distribution and in 1962 sold  the remaining half to King Records who subsequently allowed Bethlehem to fade away. It is now owned by Verse Music Group (VMG), who are reissuing much of the Bethlehem Catalogue during 2013, including vinyl with “fully restored, original artwork and liner notes”. And deep groove? Speak up.

Insightful interviews with Bethlehem founder Gus Wildi and regarding Burt Goldblatt which repay reading, are hosted at the site of artist Tyler Alpern (“the Picasso of Pop“)

Bethlehem Labels

1. Red/ silver laurel

2. Red. silver box


3 Blue/ silver box (Stereo)


Bethlehem 70’s re-issue label




5 thoughts on “Bethlehem

  1. Looking at a Bethlehem catalog listing on the back of my album, I wonder if the change in Bethlehem’s numbering from BCP 10-80 to the 6000 series indicates the change from the 10-inch record to the 12-inch? Subsequently, was the change in label from the laurel to the silver box made during the transition from 10-in LP to the 12-in?

  2. I both myself a copy of Daddy a Plays the Horn that is part of this reissue series. No deep groove. I have listened to spots and while it is crystal clear and balanced, Dexter Gordon just sounds loud all the time and the bass has no “pluck” to it. Planning to compare it this evening to my original copy of Stan Levy’s “This Time the Drum’s On Me” which also features Gordon as well as the same bass player (Leroy Vinnegar).

  3. Those reissues look very promising – assuming, of course, that the audio quality is high-ish. Difficult to find even decent copies of the Booker Little, Booker Ervin, and Mingus records for any kind of reasonable price.

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