by Tony Best
Watch the whole show on Network Awesome! (updated)
SOLAR (Sound of Los Angeles Records) was THE hottest R&B label of the late 1970s and mid-‘80s. Rivaled only by NYC’s Salsoul Records, SOLAR successfully bridged the delicate gap between disco and funk during a period where both genres were struggling to find an identity in the post-Carter/pre-Reagan administrations. Buoyed by bouncy rhythm tracks and appregioed synths, SOLAR’s Jheri curl-slick music embodied L.A.’s hip (and stratified) cultural identity. From backyard boogies in Compton to roller-skating jams at WeHo’s Flippers, SOLAR kept the City of Angels – as well the world – dancing on sunshine.
SOLAR dawned in the mind of Dick Griffey. A music industry heavy with a keen interest in Black entrepreneurship, Griffey launched the label in the summer of ‘77 as an outlet to foster underrepresented talent in the record business. The early artist roster included Shalamar, The Whispers and Carrie Lucas,