THE DISC & RECORDINGS:
Thought to have been
lost for over 70 years, these are
the only two known records to exist
from Judy Garland's first studio
On March 29, 1935, Judy Garland and
her sisters (Virginia & Mary
Jane), known professionally as "The
Garland Sisters", recorded several
tests for Decca Records. The recording
session took place at the Recordings
Incorporated Studios at 5505 Melrose
in Hollywood, California.
Judy's Mom, Ethel Gumm, played the
piano for the tests.
According to the excellent liner
notes by Ron O'Brien for the
wonderful 1994 Decca Records CD boxed
Garland - The Complete Decca Masters
(plus)", the session was initiated by Decca Records
A&R man Joe Perry, aka "Decca Joe".
Perry had seen the sisters perform,
and wanted to sign them to a contract.
Per his wife, Elise Perry, as recorded
in these same liner notes:
and her mother and two sisters were
appearing at the theater, and we
just happened to go to see the movie
and, of course, they had this vaudeville
in between pictures. My husband
thought Judy was pure magic, and
he just couldn't get her off his
mind. He talked about her all the
way home, and the next morning he
went back to the theater and sat
through four shows. Joe talked to
the mother, and then I remember she
came out to the house and brought
in some papers and things to my husband
because she couldn't get all the
way out to the studio, which was
on (5505) Melrose. He signed up
Judy, and then she made her first
"The Garland Sisters" recorded "Moonglow",
and Frances Garland (as Judy was still
professionally known at that time) recorded
"Bill", the Hammerstein/Kern song from
"Show Boat" that was identified with
torch singer Helen Morgan. Frances also
recorded a medley consisting of "On The
Good Ship Lollipop/Object Of My Affection/Dinah".
"Bill" was given a master number of "DLA
158" and the "Medley" was given a master
number of "DLA 159". It's likely that
"Moonglow" was given the master number
"DLA 157", but this record is still thought
to be lost so we can only speculate that
it was most likely recorded first.
At the time, Judy performed "Bill" on stage, seated on a piano
(as the song's originator Helen Morgan
did) with just a spot framing her face.
At the end of the song the lights
would come up, and audiences would applaud
and cheer in amazement
that this woman's voice came out of such
a young girl. See the photo at right,
taken during a working trip to the Chicago
World's Fair in July of 1934 - Judy is
posing as she performed the number.
"Decca Joe" prepared a Decca memo that
day, as shown in the liner notes to the
boxed set, listing the "Matrix No." as
DLA 158, the "Series" as "Test", and
incorrectly lists the "Artist" as Francis
[sic] Garland. He put a hand written
note at the bottom of the memo which reads
"12 yr. Old Girl I Wrote About, 3/28/35
- Joe". This indicates that the day
before the girls came in, he had already
notified Decca's New York Office
of his new discovery.
Sadly, a contract never materialized
and Judy would not make another studio
recording until a second
"audition" session for Decca on
November 27, 1935. The previous September
she had signed a standard studio contract
with M-G-M Studios and was having great
success via radio appearances. This second
audition was actually a "tag" on
the end of a recording session that Decca
musical director Victor Young was conducting
with Johnny Mercer and Ginger Rogers.
Young was the orchestra leader for "The
Shell Chateau Hour" on NBC Radio where
Judy was also appearing. Young
liked Judy and arranged for this second
audition, and conducted as Judy sang
"All's Well (Down In Coronado By The
Sea)" and "No Other One". Unfortunately,
these records were "kept on file" only until 1942, when
it's thought that they were lost as part
of the wartime metal scrap drives. But,
so were the first tests that have recently
been discovered, so who knows?
These two surviving records, retrieved
in 1960 from a trash heap outside of Judy's recently vacated home in
Beverly Hills, are surely Judy's personal
copies. Upon close inspection of the
labels and the records themselves, it's
apparent that they are either
the originals or copies made at the same
time. Judy may well have been given these
as "demos" (much like artist today have
demo CDs) to keep and possibly use if
she were to go to another record company
or more likely a Hollywood studio.
If they were pressings made years later
and given to Judy, they certainly would
not have the "Recordings Incorporated"
label but rather a hand written plain
label much like a record Judy gave to
Arthur Freed in the late 1940's.
Click on the label of each record to
view detailed close-ups.
Each record contains just one song on
The record on the left is "Bill".
record on the right is
the medley of "On The Good Ship Lollipop/Object Of My Affection/Dinah"
The reverse sides are blank,
without labels, and have black on black
with the name of the featured song.
The Master Numbers (DLA 158 & 159) are etched in the lip of the records.
HERE to go to The Judy Room News Page for photos and info about the auction and its
It's also reported as part of The
Judy Room 2006 Year In Review.
the text version of the Bonhams
the official Bonhams & Butterfields Press Release (PDF)
From Bonhams & Butterfields:
Both discs are still playable, though a scratchy,
rough background noise can be heard
as is expected from recordings from
this era. Amazingly, Judy's voice overpowers the "scratchy" quality
and is as clear as a bell. She's only
twelve at the time, but her singing
voice is remarkably mature; her innate talent evidenced even at
this very early stage of her career. The recordings run for a total
of five minutes only - leaving the listener wanting to hear more
- but glad that these five minutes do exist! The recordings have
been transferred to a CD, which is included, as is a reprinted
black and white image of Garland as a young girl.