Peggy Lee's Bio-Discography:
The MacGregor Transcriptions

by Iván Santiago-Mercado

Page generated on Mar 29, 2018

Preliminary Notes

Contents: Peggy Lee recorded a total of 17 masters on behalf of MacGregor Transcriptions, a company that specialized in making recordings for radio airplay only. The 17 masters were cut over four sessions and originally sent to radio stations in the form of three 16" shellac transcription discs, each playing at 33 r.p.m. Copies of those MacGregor discs are extant at the Library of Congress. (As will be mentioned in the next paragraph, selected Lee masters did double duty, as they were also incorporated to other artists' transcription discs.) For additional details about the MacGregor company and about Lee's sessions, see this page's final note.

Captions for the images above. Owner C.P. MacGregor is captured near a company microphone, reading from a script. A Peggy Lee portrait graces the front cover of a cassette entirely dedicated to her MacGregor transcriptions. Two MacGregor transcription discs are also in view; Lee's performances were originally issued on discs whose labels had a similar look. (Photos of a few of Lee's discs are shown elsewhere on this page, but all of them suffer from unsatisfactory picture resolution. Hence, in the absence of adequate Lee-disc images, I have chosen to spotlight discs from two MacGregor programs, Nat King Cole Trio and The Sextet From Hunger, both of which added the occasional Lee MacGregor performance to its transcribed episodes. The particular discs shown above are not, however, among the ones that used Lee material; those will be listed in the sessions below.)

Notes about the page's organization. Under each Peggy Lee performance, a list of commercial issues has been chronologically arranged, by year of release.  I have aimed at listing every single issue (i.e., LP, CD, etc.) in existence, with the following exceptions:  various-artists compilations, foreign editions of domestic issues, and MP3 files. (The first two categories are covered separately, within the miscellaneous section of this bio-discography. As for the MP3 category, I have chosen to make very limited mention of such a format in my work; I consider it a non-physical configuration of inherently poor sound quality and ephemeral issue production.) Naturally, some of Lee's MacGregor performances have been released so many times that the lists under them are quite long. In the present page, such lengthy lists have been subjected to a "hide-or-reveal" option: if a performance has been released more than three times, its full list of issues will be displayed only after you click on a blue arrowhead that has been strategically placed next to the third issue.

A note about recommended commercial releases. I have aimed at recommending at least one issue under each Peggy Lee transcription performance, with preference given to CDs and audiophile vinyl. Unfortunately, Lee's MacGregor performances do not count with any issue that can be highly recommended. This material has yet to appear on a legitimate release with optimal sound quality.  While waiting for such a release, the issues that I am half-heartedly recommending have either a comprehensive track listing or, at least, one rare track that is unavailable elsewhere.  Throughout the page, my recommendations can be quickly spotted because their titles are in uppercase and boldface; PEGGY LEE WITH THE DAVE BARBOUR BAND is an example.  On the matter of worthwhile issues, you may also want to explore this pictorial page, particularly its first section.

Date: January 1945
Location: C. P. MacGregor Studios, 729 South Western Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Label: MacGregor

Peggy Lee (ldr), Dave Barbour And His Orchestra (acc), Henry J. "Heinie" Beau (cl), Herbert "Herbie" Haymer (ts), Billy May (t), Dave Barbour (g), Phil Stephens (b), Edwin "Buddy" Cole (p), Tommy Romersa (d), Peggy Lee (v)

a. MMo 677-EMaster Take (MacGregor) Sugar (That Sugar Baby Of Mine) - 2:39(Sidney Mitchell, Edna Alexander Pinkard, Maceo Pinkard)
Glendale LPGl 6023 — You Can Depend On Me   (1981)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
Delta's LaserLight Digital Licensed CS/CD15742 — PEGGY LEE WITH THE DAVE BARBOUR BAND ("The Jazz Collector Edition" Series)   (1991)
b. MMo 677-EMaster Take (MacGregor) Don't Blame Me - 2:47(Dorothy Fields, Jimmy McHugh)
Glendale LPGl 6023 — You Can Depend On Me   (1981)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
Delta's LaserLight Digital Licensed CS/CD15742 — PEGGY LEE WITH THE DAVE BARBOUR BAND ("The Jazz Collector Edition" Series)   (1991)
c. MMo 677-EMaster Take (MacGregor) Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea - 1:33(Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler)
MacGregor Transcription DiscProgram No. 1 — [Eddie Skrivanek's Sextet From Hunger] The Sextet From Hunger Show   (1945)
d. MMo 677-EMaster Take (MacGregor) I Get The Blues (When It Rains) - 2:54(Marcy Klauber, Harry Stoddard)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
e. MMo 677-EMaster Take (MacGregor) You Can Depend On Me - 1:28(Charlie Carpenter, Louis Dunlap, Earl 'Fatha' Hines) / arr: Henry J. "Heinie" Beau
Glendale LPGl 6023 — You Can Depend On Me   (1981)
Delta's LaserLight Digital Licensed CS/CD15742 — PEGGY LEE WITH THE DAVE BARBOUR BAND ("The Jazz Collector Edition" Series)   (1991)
Musicrama/Actual Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 7 85118 2 [re-pressed 2001] — Gone With The Wind   (1995)
All titles on: MacGregor Transcription DiscLb. 130/131   (1945)


1. "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea"
2. "I Get The Blues When It Rains"

Of Peggy Lee's 17 MacGregor transcription masters, 15 have been issued on CD. The two performances not yet on CD happen to be from the present session: "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea" (available only on 16" transcription disc) and "I Get The Blues" (available on the same 16" transcription disc, and also on a long-out-of-print cassette release). The Library of Congress owns a copy of the transcription disc in question (MacGregor Lb 130/131).

For the benefit of record collectors in search of the two aforementioned performances, I should further clarify that Peggy Lee recorded more than one version of each. Details about a widely available version of "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea" can be found in the World Transcriptions page of this discography. A commercially available version of "I Get The Blues" is listed in the discography's War & Government Transcriptions page.


1. "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea"
On the label of MacGregor disc Lb. 130/131, the title of Arlen and Koeler's 1931 standard " is given in an truncated form: "Devil And Deep Blue Sea."

Photos, Issues, And Dating

1. MacGregor Lb. 130/131 [Transcription Disc]
MacGregor transcription discs have two numbers, one per side. All five performances listed on this session are on side 130 of MacGregor transcription disc 130/131. Both sides of the disc are pictured above, but flip side #131 is discussed in the notes under the next session (My apologies for the poor resolution of these black & white photocopies. If any viewer has finer scans and can send them to me via email, I would appreciate receiving them.)

2. The Sextet From Hunger Show [Transcription Disc]
This transcription disc features episode #1 and #2 of a program led by a group known as The Sextet From Hunger. Led by Eddie Skrivanek, the dixieland sextet featured piano (Charles La Vere), bass, drums, trumpet, trombone, and an alternation of clarinet and sax (Blake Reynolds). Peggy Lee is the guest on the first, Martha Tilton on the second. In both episodes, the performances are actually MacGregor transcription recordings, rather than numbers sung on the spot. (In other words, the show was pieced together by assembling already recorded MacGregor numbers.) The date on which this transcription disc was released for radio syndication is unknown to me. Very tentatively, I have assigned it a 1945 date. The other possible options range from the remainder of the mid 1940s to the mid 1950s.

Date: January 1945
Location: C. P. MacGregor Studios, 729 South Western Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Label: MacGregor

Peggy Lee (ldr), Dave Barbour And His Orchestra (acc), Henry J. "Heinie" Beau (cl), Herbert "Herbie" Haymer (ts), Billy May (t), Dave Barbour (g), Phil Stephens (b), Edwin "Buddy" Cole (p), Tommy Romersa (d), Peggy Lee (v)

a. MMo 678-EMaster Take (MacGregor) September In The Rain - 3:13(Al Dubin, Harry Warren)
MacGregor Transcription DiscProgram No. 2 — [Nat King Cole] King Cole Court   (1950)
Glendale LPGl 6023 — You Can Depend On Me   (1981)
Take 16 Public Domain CD(Denmark) 8013 — Peggy Lee ("16 Great Songs" Series)   (1990)
b. MMo 678-EMaster Take (MacGregor) You Turned The Tables On Me - 2:39(Louis Alter, Sidney Mitchell)
MacGregor Transcription DiscProgram No. 46 — [Henry King] King At Court   (1950)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
Redmond Nostalgia Collectors' Label commercial CDr/MP3Cd 214 — [Henry King] The Henry King Show, Programs 37 And 46 {Les Paul Trio, Peggy Lee}   
c. MMo 678-EMaster Take (MacGregor) My Last Affair - 2:53(Haven Johnson)
Glendale LPGl 6023 — You Can Depend On Me   (1981)
Delta's LaserLight Digital Licensed CS/CD15742 — PEGGY LEE WITH THE DAVE BARBOUR BAND ("The Jazz Collector Edition" Series)   (1991)
Castle Communications Licensed CS/CD(United Kingdom) Mat Mc/Cd 316 — Let There Be Love; The Best Of Peggy Lee   (1994)
d. MMo 678-EMaster Take (MacGregor) I've Had My Moments - 3:07(Walter Donaldson, Gus Kahn)
MacGregor Transcription DiscProgram No. 46 — [Henry King] King At Court   (1950)
Glendale LPGl 6023 — You Can Depend On Me   (1981)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
All titles on: MacGregor Transcription DiscLb. 130/131   (1945)
Orthotone / United 16" Transcription Disc(Canada) UTS 491    


Two MacGregor transcription discs featuring selections by Henry King, whose MacGregor show will be discussed below.


1. "September In The Rain"
On the label of MacGregor disc Lb. 130/131, the title of Dubin and Warren's 1937 standard "September In The Rain" is incorrectly given as "That September In The Rain."


1. Orthotone
2. United Transcribed System
Orthotone was MacGregor's subsidiary in Canada; United was the Canadian distributor. Peggy Lee's MacGregor masters might have all been transcribed on Orthotone, but the only batch for which I have evidence is the one listed under this session. They are not duplicates of the MacGregor discs. Instead, Orthotone often reshuffled the order of the songs, and did not necessarily feature the artist pairings per disc.

Issues And Sources


1. MacGregor Lb. 130/131 [Transcription Disc]
MacGregor transcription discs have two numbers, one per side. All four performances from this session are on side 131 of MacGregor transcription disc 130/131. (The flip side, #130, is discussed in the notes under the preceding session.)

2. Orthotone/United Uts 490/491 [Transcription Disc]
3. Ray Eberle
Orthotone discs also bear two numbers, one per side. Side #491 contains the Peggy Lee performances listed in this session. Side #490 features Ray Eberle vocals.

4. King At Court [Radio Show]
5. The Henry King Show [CD]
"The Henry King Show" is the title of a Redmond Nostalgia CD that contains two episodes of a long-forgotten radio series. Episode #37 features the Les Paul Trio as King's guest, while Peggy Lee does the honors in episode #46. The CD has no liner notes, nor is there any further information about the episodes in its front or back cover.

I have only minimal information about the radio show from which the two episodes stem. Since it was officially known as King At Court, the program could have had a loose connection with the similarly named King Cole At Court, hosted by Nat King Cole. (Maybe the two were offered to subscribing MacGregor stations as "sibling versions," which could be alternated in the same time slot? Or maybe there was no connection, aside from the coincidental inclusion of the word "King" and the MacGregor origination.)

According to the online database of the Library of Congress (where the C.P. MacGregor masterbook and library reside nowadays) the show was current from 1946 to, at the very least, 1948. In episode #46, certain comments made by the announcer and the singer allow us to circumscribe the episode's date to no earlier than 1948 (the year in which "Mañana" became a hit) and no later than 1950 (Lee's last year of marriage with Barbour). I have chosen a 1950 dating for the time being. I hope that more precise information will be uncovered in the future, when the year of release might thus change to 1949 or 1948.

Incidentally, the show's announcer calls Peggy Lee's guest appearance as a "return visit." Hence there must have been at least one previous Lee appearance, about which I do not have any information at the moment.

Let's talk a closer look at Lee's participation in episode #46. She starts off with the following bit of patter: "This is Peggy Lee, ladies and gentlemen, and may I say, it's nice of you all to invite me over for the show. I always enjoy singing and naturally welcome the opportunity of being a part of any program where good music is the ordered thing. By way of contribution, however small, I'd like to review one of the old favorites that always seem to bring pleasant memories for me. Hope it will for you, too. Goes like this."

We then hear Lee sing "I've Had My Moments." Afterwards, she and Arlington engage in the following conversation:

Arlington: Peggy, Peggy Lee, come back here, Peggy. You know that was swell, and you know we just got to have more.
Lee: Well, alright, I'm ready, you just say when.
Arlington: Well, Peggy, we'd kind of like to know what's going on with you and Dave Barbour, your husband, in the realm of music nowadays. New records, television, and so on I suppose?
Lee: Well, Charles, Dave and I are pretty much on the active side of things these days and very happy about it all, too. Our records are still coming off the presses with a certain amount of regularity and every now and then there is a television show and there's been a lot of personal appearances to take out any spare time from radio, records, and TV, you know.
Arlington: Ha, ha, say, that does make for a right active existence, doesn't it, Peg!?
Lee: Yes, I almost forgot we have to squeeze a little time for songwriting, too!
Arlington: Ha, ha, ha, for songs like "Mañana," huh?
Lee: Um-h-umm.
Arlington: Well, say, with a busy schedule like that I guess we better go on the move if we ever expect another song right now.
Lee: Always gonna make time for a song, Charles. What's you wish?
Arlington: Well, anything that meets with your approval, Peggy.
Lee: Closer not said than done. If the maestro will make with a little music I'd like very much to move in with this.

A Lee interpretation of "You Turned The Tables On Me" is subsequently heard. After it finishes playing, the songstress bids adieu: "Thank you ladies and gentlemen, I've enjoyed being here with all of you very much, and I hope that we can take up here in the hall soon. Until then, goodbye."

At the episode comes to its full closure, announcer Charles Arlington states that the show was "produced and transcribed in Hollywood, the cinema's showplace of the nation, by C. P. MacGregor." This disclaimer means to convey the fact that The Henry King Show was a pre-recorded program, sent to radio stations which subscribed to the MacGregor transcription service. As for the Lee vocals that are heard during the broadcast, they are actually pre-recordings: in other words, those are her above-listed MacGregor transcription recordings, not numbers freshly sung for or during the episode.

Obviously, the show's producer wanted listeners to believe that the guest was not only conversing with the announcer but also singing on the spot, when in reality the singing had been pre-recorded, and the conversation was scripted. What's more, the singer and the announcer might have not even gathered together for their conversation. Since they were reading from a script, their respective parts of the dialogue could have been separately recorded.

Date: January 1945
Location: C. P. MacGregor Studios, 729 South Western Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Label: MacGregor

Peggy Lee (ldr), Dave Barbour And His Orchestra (acc), Henry J. "Heinie" Beau (cl), Herbert "Herbie" Haymer (ts), Billy May (t), Dave Barbour (g), Phil Stephens (b), Edwin "Buddy" Cole (p), Tommy Romersa (d), Peggy Lee (v)

a. MMo 694-E /MMo1198DSMaster Take (MacGregor) That Old Gang Of Mine - 2:35(Mort Dixon, Ray Henderson, Billy Rose)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
Take 16 Public Domain CD(Denmark) 8013 — Peggy Lee ("16 Great Songs" Series)   (1990)
Music International Public Domain CS/CDP 6014/6002 — Old Favorites   (1992)
b. MMo 694-E /MMo1198DSMaster Take (MacGregor) I'm Beginning To See The Light - 2:34(Duke Ellington, Don George, Johnny Hodges, Harry James)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
Music International Public Domain CS/CDP 6014/6002 — Old Favorites   (1992)
Dana Public Domain cassette__ — Four Ladies Of Song {Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, Patti Page, Dinah Shore}    (1994)
c. MMo 694-E /MMo1198DSMaster Take (MacGregor) Baby, Won't You Please Come Home - 1:51(Charles Warfield, Clarence Williams)
Take 16 Public Domain CD(Denmark) 8013 — Peggy Lee ("16 Great Songs" Series)   (1990)
Music International Public Domain CS/CDP 6014/6002 — Old Favorites   (1992)
Gold/San Juan Music Public Domain CD(Netherlands) Gold 055 — Peggy Lee Gold (San Juan's Series)   (1993)
d. MMo 694-E /MMo1198DSMaster Take (MacGregor) I'm Confessin' (That I Love You) - 2:36(Don Dougherty, Al J. Neiburg, Ellis Reynolds)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
Hughes Leisure Group Public Domain CD(Australia/New Zealand) Stb 8849 — Peggy Lee ("20 Golden Greats / Starburst" Series)    (1994)
Hallmark Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 705462 — Peggy Lee Gold (Hallmark's Series)   (1995)
All titles on: MacGregor Transcription DiscLb. 143/144   (1945)
MacGregor Transcription DiscLb. 641/642   (1950)
Glendale LPGl 6023 — You Can Depend On Me   (1981)

Issues, Masters, And Dating

1. MacGregor Lb. 143/144 [Transcription Disc]
Discs from transcription companies such as MacGregor were given two catalogue numbers -- one per each side. The four performances that I have listed under this date are all on side #144 of a disc whose other side (#143) contains performances by Thomas Peluso.

2. MacGregor Lb. 641/642 [Transcription Disc]
The exact same Peggy Lee performances on MacGregor Lb 143 were reissued on MacGregor disc 642. Its flip side (#641) contains recordings by Les Paul with Trudy Williams on vocals, none of which seem to be reissues.

3. Matrix Numbers [Transcription Discs]
This session's songs have two matrix numbers. MMo 694, the original master number, is connected to MacGregor disc 143/144,. When the songs on side #144 were reissued on MacGregor disc 641/642, there was an assignation of a new matrix number (MMo 1198).

4. Dating Of MacGregor Lb. 641/642 [Transcription Disc]
I do not know the date on which the MacGregor service prepared and sent out disc 641/642 to radio stations. Sequentially, a disc number as high as 642 (compared to 144) suggests a late 1940s date.

Discographer Charles Garrod has attached a January 1948 date to MacGregor disc sides #497 and #506. He has also attached an April 1948 dating to disc side #531. Unfortunately, Garrod does not explain the source or rationale behind those dates. If they are correct (and there is room for doubt), then we could speculate that 1948-1959 is the correct period for the disc under scrutiny (sides #641 and #642). I have ended up choosing an approximate, tentative 1950 date (rather than 1949 or 1948), because it allows for a better sequential flow of this discography's ET index.

Date: January 1945
Location: C. P. MacGregor Studios, 729 South Western Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Label: MacGregor

Peggy Lee (ldr), Dave Barbour And His Orchestra (acc), Henry J. "Heinie" Beau (cl), Herbert "Herbie" Haymer (ts), Billy May (t), Dave Barbour (g), Phil Stephens (b), Edwin "Buddy" Cole (p), Tommy Romersa (d), Peggy Lee (v)

a. MMo 695-REMaster Take (MacGregor) Someday, Sweetheart - 2:17(Benjamin Spikes, John Spikes)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
Musicrama/Actual Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 7 85118 2 [re-pressed 2001] — Gone With The Wind   (1995)
b. MMo 695-REMaster Take (MacGregor) Gone With The Wind - 2:00(Herb Magidson, Allie Wrubel)
Music International Public Domain CS/CDP 6014/6002 — Old Favorites   (1992)
Gold/San Juan Music Public Domain CD(Netherlands) Gold 055 — Peggy Lee Gold (San Juan's Series)   (1993)
Musicrama/Actual Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 7 85118 2 [re-pressed 2001] — Gone With The Wind   (1995)
c. MMo 695-REMaster Take (MacGregor) I Should Care - 3:46(Sammy Cahn, Axel Stordahl, Paul Weston)
Disky Licensed CD(Netherlands) 905191 — Peggy Lee ("Golden Greats" Series)   (2002)
Music Club Licensed CD(United Kingdom) Mccd 619 — Black Coffee; The Best Of Peggy Lee    (2007)
d. MMo 695-REMaster Take (MacGregor) Nice Work If You Can Get It - 2:23(George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
Hallmark/Carlton Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 300862 [Reissue: 1999] — These Foolish Things & Other Great Standards [aka The Lady Is A Tramp; from box Ladies Of Song]   (1995)
Hallmark Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 300862 [Reissue: 1999] — The Lady Is A Tramp [aka These Foolish Things] & Other Great Standards; from box Ladies Of Song]   (1995)
All titles on: MacGregor Transcription DiscLb. 145/146   (1945)
Glendale LPGl 6023 — You Can Depend On Me   (1981)
Delta's LaserLight Digital Licensed CS/CD15742 — PEGGY LEE WITH THE DAVE BARBOUR BAND ("The Jazz Collector Edition" Series)   (1991)
Capriole Public Domain CD(Germany) Hmr 1009 — Peggy Lee With The Dave Barbour Band; Nat King Cole Trio 1943/49, The Vocal Sides   (1997)
Great Voices Of The Century Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) Gvc 2006 — Oh La La Lee    (1999)
Proper Collectors' Label CD(United Kingdom) Box 108 — Miss Wonderful    (2006)

Issues & Photos

1. MacGregor Lb. 145/146 [Transcription Disc]
MacGregor discs bear different catalogue numbers on each side. All four performances listed under this date are on side #145 of a disc whose flip side (#146) contains numbers by Stan Kenton And His Orchestra. Both sides of the disc are pictured above. (My apologies for the poor resolution of these black & white photocopies. If any viewer has finer scans and can send them to me via email, I would appreciate receiving them.)


The MacGregor Company And Studio

The MacGregor Company And Studio was in the business of producing radio transcriptions -- i.e., discs leased exclusively to radio stations, for a fee. (Sent out to participating stations on a monthly basis, such discs were intended for broadcasting only. Hence they were neither available nor manufactured for retail. Regular record players -- i.e., those sold to the general public -- were unable to play them.)

From an advertisement placed in a 1947 radio magazine, the following text lists the variety of material that MacGregor featured in its discs: "MacGregor Presents, for better programming, half hour presentations of – Drama / Mystery / Romance / Comedy, starring Hollywood personalities. Music library – Basic 2,500 selections; 50 new tunes monthly. Available now." All those types of transcriptions were recorded and produced in the company's facilities.

(Images above: Chick MacGregor, photographed in the mid-1940s. Two MacGregor advertisements, the first in circulation around 1939, the second around 1956. A reference copy, cut at the MacGregor company; it has the full 12-track contents of Peggy Lee's 1960 album Latin Ala Lee.)

The C. P. MacGregor Studios

The MacGregor company's sources of revenue included not only its transcription service but also its studio facilities, which were available for leasing. According to Klaus Teubig, author of Straighten Up And Fly Right: A Chronology And Discography Of Nat King Cole, "MacGregor had Hollywood's largest and most modern recording studios during the early forties, which were used by many independent record producers such as Capitol Records, Exclusive, Dial, and AFRS (American Forces Radio Service)."

Further information about MacGregor's studio(s) can be found in the book Stan Kenton: The Studio Sessions, by Michael Sparke and Peter Venudor. The authors quote Audree Kenton, widow of Stan Kenton, who explains that "[w]e recorded in a very small studio, using the standard microphone set-up for those days. But [engineer] Vic Qu[o]n had great technical expertise, and had developed a system whereby everything sounded live when he recorded it, a sort of early echo chamber idea."

Chip MacGregor

The MacGregor Company and Studio was owned by Chick MacGregor (1897-1968), who spent much of his lifetime in the transcription business. After a few years of apprenticeship as a local manager for Brunswick Records in the San Francisco area, MacGregor became the co-owner of his first transcription company, named MacGregor & Ingram Recording Laboratories, in 1929. By 1932, he had apparently changed partners, forming as a result MacGregor & Sollie Recording Laboratories.

At some unknown time between 1937 and 1944, he founded The MacGregor Company And Studio, of which he apparently was sole owner. The entrepreneur appointed Paul Quon as the company's chief executive and Paul's brother Victor as the studio's recording engineer. (Victor Quon also worked, incidentally, as a musical director at CBS.) Contemporary press identifies a man named Orrin Nance as the company's publicity director.

The 1940s were the heyday of this enterprise. Due to its reputation as a state-of-the-art facility, the MacGregor Studio was in considerable demand during the decade's earliest years, and the MacGregor Company was reaping benefits from arrangements made with a variety of networks and record labels.

Although the popularity of transcriptions dwindled dramatically in the 1950s, MacGregor continued making and distributing them until at least one decade later, if not two. (Some MacGregor transcriptions have been given an early 1970s dating, which would mean that they were released after the company's owner had passed away.) In the 1950s and 1960s, the current MacGregor library would have consisted mostly of serials and variety programming, rather than music per se. But he still pursued alternative ways to profit from his music catalogue: in 1959, the courts ruled in his favor when one artist tried to prevent him from selling some music masters to a budget record label (Tops).

During the last last decade of his life, MacGregor also remained active in the transcription world though a position as the host of the Salvation Army's transcribed show Heartbeat Theatre.

Capitol Records And MacGregor Services

From 1942 to 1944, Capitol Records had a very active contractual agreement with MacGregor. Capitol's artists came to C. P. MacGregor Studios to record not only commercial material (for Capitol) but also radio transcriptions (for MacGregor). The September 23, 1944 issue of Billboard magazine reported that the ongoing arrangement between the two parties had been upgraded to exclusivity status:

"Deal has been set by C. P. MacGregor for exclusive recording contract with Capitol Records. Contract gives Capitol the exclusive services of the MacGregor studios for commercial disking, guaranteeing $1,000 per week in fees. New set-up calls for MacGregor to do waxing, after which masters will be turned over to Capitol for pressing at Scranton, Pa., plant. Terms of contract call for exclusive services of Benny Jordan, recognized as one of the top mixers and sound engineers in the biz. While MacGregor has been handling Capitol recording sessions for some time, new deal prohibits him from doing work for any other firm. [But] regular transcription recording service for radio stations and advertisers will be continued by MacGregor."

In his book Straighten Up And Fly Right: A Chronology And Discography Of Nat King Cole, Klaus Teubig quotes the next relevant article, from a Downbeat issue published on February 1, 1945. The magazine reports that "Capitol Records, which has used the facilities of C. P. MacGregor sound studios exclusively for recording purposes and for a time had a deal under which the sound firm's commercial phonograph facilities were available only to Capitol, has 'split' with MacGregor for unrevealed reasons." The February 3 issue of Billboard reported the same news at length, adding the transcription company's spin on the matter:

"MacGregor's spokesman says the studio is too busy with war work and handling its regular accounts ... Capitol's sessions were becoming so numerous that MacGregor studios was unable to give the proper time and attention to numerous Armed Forces Radio Service shows, its own musical and dramatic transcription series and advertising agency accounts. Dehydrating commercials and inserting special announcements and musical bridges and recording many of the major network broadcasts, including Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Metropolitan Opera, Hit Parade, etc., plus the army's own tailor-made programs for distribution via AFRS to servicemen overseas in itself amounts to 120 half-hour programs weekly. All this work obtains for MacGregor [a] priority rating. In addition, MacGregor is concerned about his post-war business from the agencies and his own transcribed library accounts. Since it is very likely that Capitol will build its own recording studio at the end of the war or as soon as materials are available, it probably is good business for MacGregor to make a break now."

Capitol gave an entirely different spin on the matter. The spokesman for record company pointed out that MacGregor had recently painted the walls of his studio, and as a result the studio was now "too live," even after an attempt at solving the matter by installing rock wool. The implication was that Capitol was too unhappy with the new sound of the studio to hold any further sessions there.

Adding to the Capitol perspective, this subject matter was also recounted in the memoirs of Capitol singer Margaret Whiting. "Johnny and Paul [Weston] always liked to use McGregor's [sic] ... because of the phenomenal sound," Whiting enticingly tells her readers.  "The story goes that after a recording session in the morning, everyone broke for lunch.  McGregor [sic], feeling flush with Capitol's success and the money it had given him, painted the studio's walls during the lunch break. When the engineers came back, they put on their earphones.  The afternoon session began.  Suddenly, everyone stopped.  The sound wasn't the same.  Mercer, Weston, everyone put on the earphones and listened.  What had happened?  M[a]cGregor confessed he had painted the walls.  In so doing, something had happened to the acoustics ... Johnny ... always talked wistfully about those halcyon days at M[a]cGregor's before the wall were painted."

The aforementioned Billboard reporter went to add that "a patching up [was] in order" -- or so was the word from Capitol's headquarters. But no such patching up took place. On the contrary, additional points of contention became exposed. The February 24, 1945 issue of Billboard revealed that MacGregor was demanding payment of an one-cent royalty fee for any side recorded in his studio, to be added to the standard mechanical charges. In addition to this one-cent-a-sie royalty, the company charged $50 per master (according to the April , 1945 25 issue of the same periodical). Two pieces of justification were given for the new fee:

"According to MacGregor, his firm has devoted many years and over $200,000 to building a 'know how' in the recording biz and therefore are entitled to participate in the success of records they make. Furthermore, declared MacGregor, the minute a new entry in the already crowded record biz is successful enough, it builds his own studio. So the only equitable means of sharing in the profits of such a new venture is to be in at the beginning."

The reporter correctly assumed that Capitol would not be willing to entertain the notion of paying royalties for studio usage. As the reporter reasoned, acceptance of MacGregor's proposal would have established a precedent with alarming consequences for the industry's statue quo: it would have brought into question why royalties were not also being granted to arrangers, bandleaders, singers, and other involved parties.

Capitol thus began the process of moving its Hollywood session work to alternate studios. February of 1945 is the last date for which I have found listings of MacGregor-conducted Capitol sessions. (For instance, a February 14, 1945 Ella Mae Morse date is reported to have taken place therein.) During the transitional months that had preceded and which would follow, various sessions were held as Paramount Studios, a location that became momentarily available thanks to the fact that one of Capitol's founders (Buddy De Sylva) was also an executive at the film emporium.

February of 1945 did not mark the full termination of the The Capitol-MacGregor relationship. Although the former did stop using the latter for commercial recording, some Capitol artists still continued to record transcriptions at MacGregor throughout the year. Stan Kenton did so as late as December 28, 1945. Nat King Cole might or might have not recorded additional transcriptions in the summer. The likeliest reason for the continuation of activity was the artist's need to complete a contractually predetermined amount of transcriptions. Once such contractual obligations were fulfilled, Capitol probably expected its artists to fully cut ties with the transcription company.

Meanwhile, Capitol reached a deal with Radio Recorders. Capitol might have started cutting the occasional date there in late 1944. However, it was not until the second half of 1945 that the label resorted to Radio Recorders on a consistent basis. From the onwards, most Hollywood-based Capitol record dates would take place at what the aforementioned Sparke and Venudor characterized as "the West Coast's leading independent" of its time.

Capitol did end up setting up its own transcription service, too. The operations began in May of 1945, though initially it moved at a slow pace, doing only ten transcription sessions during that first year. Thereafter, it went into full swing. From 1946 onwards, Capitol artists such as Nat King Cole, Stan Kenton, and Peggy Lee would record only for Capitol's transcription service. (The songstress' work for that service is detailed on this page.) Meanwhile, MacGregor continued its transcription program with other artists, including some who had been or would be affiliated to Capitol at some point in time -- artists such as Matt Dennis and Mel Tormé.

Types Of MacGregor Transcriptions: Music Library Versus Music Shows

MacGregor sent various types of music discs to the radio stations which subscribed to its service. One type of disc contains just songs, usually by one artist. Such transcriptions bear the prefix "LB." on the physical discs, an abbreviation that stands for the word "library." In logs and published listings, the more commonly found is " CPM LB," which must stands for either "C.P. MacGregor library." Furthermore (and as will be further detailed below), the physical discs usually included a matrix number, prefixed by the letters "MM" or "MMo." That's the type of transcription disc most frequently listed in this page. Take, for instance, MacGregor disc #CPM LB-145. When participating radio stations played it, listeners would hear a full four-song segment by Peggy Lee, beginning with "I Should Care" and ending with "Gone With The Wind."

Another type of MacGregor disc consisted of a pre-recorded radio show. As explained by Nat King Cole discographer Klaus Teubig: "[i]n addition to the normal 16" transcription discs, MacGregor offered complete 15-minute programs called King Cole Court with full announcements by Cole and a studio host with (guest) cuts from other MacGregor productions as Peggy Lee, Larry Stewart or Ray Eberle." The musical selections heard during the program, whether by Cole or by his guests, were not numbers originally meant for show, and they were not fresh. They were instead performances culled from the type of MacGregor discs which I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

To illustrate, let's take episode #2 of King Cole Court. The episode contained eight songs, all taken from MacGregor's music library: seven songs from discs by The Nat King Cole Trio, and the remaining one a "guest cut" by Peggy Lee ("September In The Rain," from MacGregor transcription disc #CPM LB-131). Variations on this same procedure are evident in all other King Cole Court episodes listed by Teubig (a total of six episodes with one guest vocal by artists as diverse as Anita O'Day's and The Berrie Sisters).

In addition to King Cole At Court, other examples of MacGregor's transcribed music programs were The Sextet From Hunger Show and the aforementioned King At Court starring Henry King. There probably were plenty more, although so far I have not come across information on them. [n.b.: I am curious to find out the airing dates of all these transcribed, syndicated radio shows. Klaubig does not give the airdate of the King Cole Court shows, but another source refers to it as a 1950s series, and I have tentatively followed that source's lead herein.]

The United (Orthotone) Transcribed System

According to a producer's note in the booklet of the CD The King Cole Trio: The MacGregor Years, 1941-1945 , "[m]any [MacGregor] transcriptions were licensed to a Canadian distributor, United Transcribed System [also known as Orthotone], which sometimes pressed direct from the original parts but which frequently dubbed the material onto new masters, sometimes changing the track sequence and invariably altering the sound quality, not for the better." Although that booklet's note refers specifically to Cole's transcription recordings, it probably applies to Peggy Lee's work for MacGregor, too. I assume that all of the songstress' work for MacGregor was pressed anew by United, although so far I have located only one UTS transcription disc featuring Lee. (See above, 2nd MacGregor session.)


Personnel Of Peggy Lee's MacGregor Sessions

The personnel of Peggy Lee's MacGregor transcriptions is identified in only one of the sources consulted: the Starline cassette I've Had My Moments. A collective personnel is listed for the tracks, which come from all four MacGregor sessions. Since Lee seems to have recorded all her MacGregor numbers during the same month (see discussion about dating below), and since the musical backing sounds very similar throughout, the collective personnel given in the cassette may indeed apply to the entire 17-song batch.

Recording Process And Alternate Takes

Sparke and Venudor explain the manner in which all MacGregor transcriptions were waxed: "titles were not recorded in separate acetates, but were cut a program at a time, directly onto a 16" transcription master. Matrix numbers, preceded by MM for MacGregor Music, were awarded to this block of titles at the time of recording."

(The same basic method seems to have been used by most other transcription companies as well. Following the recording of what was essentially a full session onto one "mother master," each satisfactory performance was transferred to its separate transcription disc, or "secondary master disc." As a result, the logs of many transcription services show two master numbers next to each interpretation. The next step in the process was to transfer the performances from the "secondary masters" to the transcription discs that would be sent out to subscribing radio stations.)

The use of this direct-to-disc process did not favor the recording of many alternate takes, let alone their preservation. My general impression is that the contents of "primary" or "mother" master discs have rarely been preserved. In the specific case of Peggy Lee's MacGregor sessions, I have no indication of their existence. My assumption is that the physical copies kept as the Library of Congress are merely discs sent out to the radio stations or, at best, "secondary masters." A modicum of hope can still be maintained, though: I am aware of the existence of a few alternates for another MacGregor artist (Stan Kenton).

Dating of Peggy Lee's MacGregor Discs & Sessions

MacGregor's master-books are currently owned by the Library of Congress.  (I have not seen or consulted them.)  Probably relying on such master-books, the library's online database gives a 1945 dating to all the original MacGregor discs which contain Peggy Lee performances. In other words, 1945 was the year on which her MacGregor transcription discs became ready for syndicated distribution.  The library's database does not indicate, on the other hand, when the songs on the discs were recorded.  

The MacGregor master-books are not known to contain recording dates, and there is no indication that session date information has been preserved anywhere else.  (The one exception could be the hard-to-access American Federation Of Musicians reports.)  Fortunately, knowledge of the discs' release dates can provide us with clues. if we operate under the assumption that there is a short, months-long time span between the recording (#1) and distribution (#2) of most MacGregor performances, then the distribution dates can allow to postulate approximate recording dates.

In his 1990 pamphlet MacGregor Radio Transcriptions, 1 To 920, author Charles Garrod acknowledges two LOC librarians for their "help."  From such acknowledgments, we can gather that the MacGregor master-books served as a source for the pamphlet, either directly or indirectly.  Garrod's work is best described as a sequential listing of the MacGregor electrical transcriptions, going all the way to disc 919/920.  (In the interest of comprehensiveness, I should clarify that disc 919/920 was not the last MacGregor transcription release by any means. The company's ET catalogue goes into at least the 1400s.  However, discs with such high numbers tend to be reissues of the earlier ones.)

Garrod provides a date (month and year) for almost all of the discs whose numbers fall between 1 and 120.  Thereafter, his supply of dates becomes infrequent and scarce.  The numbers for Lee's original MacGregor transcription discs are 130, 131, 144, and 145.  None of them are dated by Garrod, but his numerical sequencing points to January of 1945 as their likeliest time of "release" on transcription disc.  

(Bear in mind, however, that Garrod does not supply explanations in what is essentially a bare-bones list of transcription discs.  Hence I do not know how many of the dates on his pamphlet were acquired from the MacGregor master-books or any other reliable source, and how many qualify as mere assumptions on his part.  For what is worth, the first disc which he lists with a January 1945 dating is the one whose sides are numbered 109/110.  The last to which he gives the same date bears the numbers 185/186.  We are thus left with the implication that, for the month of January 1945, MacGregor released over 35 transcription discs into syndication.)

I do have concrete recording dates for the transcriptions of two other artists who were also under MacGregor contract, and who shared a Capitol connection with Peggy Lee:  Stan Kenton and Nat King Cole. For the latter,  pertinent information can be found in the booklet of the CD set The King Cole Trio:  The MacGregor Years, 1941-1945, produced by David Lennick.  Another worthwhile source is an online document prepared by the team of Will Friedwald and David Weiner, The King Cole Trio On MacGregor:  An Attempt At A Dated Listing.  Both sources show Cole starting his MacGregor recording activity on February 25, 1941.  There is also agreement on the closing year (1945), with January or February alternately suggested or speculated as the last month. I have come across additional sources in which the summer of 1945 is given as the final period, but I found no rationale, source or explanation in any of them.

(Incidentally, the CD set The King Cole Trio:  The MacGregor Years, 1941-1945 seems to err in its dating of a Cole session with Anita O'Day. That session is generally referred as O'Day's audition for Kenton. Since the team of Kenton and O'Day were already recording for Capitol by late 1944, her MacGregor session would have to date from earlier in 1944.  The date alleged on the CD --May 26, 1945-- might thus be off by a year.) 

Recording data is more solidly provided by Michael Sparke in his book Stan Kenton: The Studio Sessions (also credited to Peter Venudor).  Sparke inspected Kenton's AFM contracts. On May 11, 1944, the bandleader recorded sixteen songs onto four MacGregor transcription sides.  On January 8, 1945, he did sixteen more, for four additional sides. One of those last four sides was numbered 128, which is numerically close to two of Peggy Lee's own sides on MacGregor transcription (#130 & #131).  Another Kenton side was numbered 146, which is in turn numerically close to Peggy Lee's other two sides (#144 & #145).  We can thus postulate that these Kenton and Lee discs were released for syndication on the same month(s) -- January of thereabouts.

But, moving away from release dates, how about recording dates?  We have Kenton's, miss Lee's.  To try to pinpoint them, matrix numbers will naturally be more helpful than disc numbers.  Fortunately, Garrod provides them, too:  

matrix MM 671:  Disc side #128 (Stan Kenton)                                                                 
matrix MM 673: Disc side #146 (Stan Kenton) 
matrix MM 677: Disc side #130 (Peggy Lee)                                                                 
matrix MM 678: Disc side #131 (Peggy Lee)                                                                   

matrix MM 694: Disc side #144 (Peggy Lee)                                                                 
matrix MM 695: Disc side #145 (Peggy Lee)                                                       

If we are to assume that MacGregor numbered its sessions in chronological order, then Lee's masters 677 and 678 must date from around the same time as the 671 Kenton master.  In other words, all three sets of transcription masters probably date from the second week of January 1945.  Those numbered 694 and 695 could in turn be speculated to date from either later in January or, otherwise, February of 1945.

Commercial Issues Of Peggy Lee's MacGregor Transcriptions

Transcription discs were originally made for syndicated radio broadcast, not for retail. From their appearance in the 1920s to their decline in the 1950s, they were virtually unavailable to the general public, who would have needed special equipment to play them. Nevertheless, a few MacGregor transcriptions began to be transferred to commercial disc in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Of those which Peggy Lee recorded, eight numbers might have been commercially issued in the 1950s or 1960s.  The matter is uncertain to me because I count only with clues of the existence of such a commercial issue -- an American 10" LP titled September In The Rain.  So far, no physical evidence (no copies, no photos, no listings in album guides) has come forth.  The primary indicator of its existence is what appears to be a reissue of it, released in Japan by Norma Records (1998).  Visible in the artwork of that Norma reissue is the name of the American company that would have previously issued the album, Candlelite Records. 

Candlelite was a budget label which made its debut around 1960, and whose catalogue consisted primarily of r&b & doo-wop oldies.  In the 1970s, this New Jersey-based label (perhaps an one-man operation) operated by advertising on television, asking customers to order by calling a toll number.  It is not clear if the label's catalogue was at any point distributed to and sold in (local) record stores, too.  Limited distribution and/or availability only through direct TV marketing could account for the seeming non-existence of any copies of the Lee LP at the present time.  

In passing, I should point out that Peggy Lee was not the only female artist with a Candlelite album reissued by Norma in 1998.  There were also albums credited to Betty Madigan, Peggy King, Monica Lewis, Keely Smith, Jeri Southern, and Jo Stafford.   It's also worth nothing that some of those Norma albums came out on CD -- not, however, the one by Lee. 

There is an additional possibility that Candlelite's September In The Rain was itself a straight reissue of a 10" LP issued by MacGregor Records.  As with the Candlelite item, the existence of such a MacGregor retail LP remains entirely hypothetical as well.  Although I have not located any concrete evidence of a copy, it is worth noting that the MacGregor label began to issue a pop line of 10" LPs in late 1956.

Bearing in mind that the actual existence of the above-mentioned Peggy Lee LPs on MacGregor and Candlelite has yet to be factually proven, the rest of this writeup will proceed without factoring them into the equation.

Peggy Lee's MacGregor recordings did not make their retail debut until the 1980s. During that decade, two mail order labels issued them to the public. Both labels had p.o. box addresses in Glendale, California. One of them, called Glendale Records, released 14 of the 17 numbers on a LP titled You Can Depend On Me in 1981. Glendale's LP includes the following statement in its record sleeve: "All selections released for the first time / Material licensed from the archives of C. P. MacGregor Library / Photos from the collection of Ron Towe." (Towe was the author of an unpublished bio-discography of Peggy Lee. He is said to have owned an extensive collection of Lee memorabilia.) The other company, Starline Records, released 10 of the 17 numbers in a cassette titled I've Had My Moments (1987).

In 1991, the record label Laserlight made Lee's MacGregor songs part of the compact disc era. Laserlight's CD Peggy Lee With The Dave Barbour Band is actually a reissue of the aforementioned Glendale LP, with the same tracks but different title, artwork, and notes. The entire contents of the CD were also reissued in 1997 by the German label Capriole, in a twofer of sorts: it combines the contents of two Laserlight issues, the other one being a Nat King Cole CD, from which Capriole took only the vocal sides.

In the years that followed the Laserlight release, an ever-growing number of public domain labels appropriated and re-released the MacGregor material. Their CDs often mixed these transcriptions with Peggy Lee's studio recordings, and with performances taken from various radio sources.

During the ongoing twenty-first century, Peggy Lee With The Dave Barbour Band still remains the most adequate choice for fans who want to own the bulk of Lee's MacGregor output. The CD contains 14 of her MacGregor transcriptions in unobjectionable sound quality. It is, nevertheless, an unattractive budget issue, and by now no longer in print. Despite the rapid shrinking of the CD market, I am still hoping for a future release of all 17 MacGregor numbers in a CD with informative liner notes and appealing artwork.

Statistics: Total Number Of Masters; Performances Not On CD

This discographical page shows a total of 17 masters, originally distributed over four transcription discs, meant for radio airplay one. Of those 17 performances, 14 have appeared on compact disc. The 3 numbers not yet on CD are:

"You Turned The Tables On Me"
Available only in two rare issues released by online mail order companies (as shown in the second session above).

"I Get The Blues (When It Rains)"
Issued in the cassette I've Had My Moments, which has been out of print for decades. (A different version of "I Get The Blues" is also commercially available. See page for War & Government Transcriptions, once it opens for viewing.)

"Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea"
Never commercially available. It can be heard only on MacGregor 16" transcription discs. (Numerous public domain CDs contain a Peggy Lee version of "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea," but that's a different version, recorded by Lee for another transcription service, World Records.)

(Photos below: four releases entirely dedicated to MacGregor transcription tracks. All four of them have been repeatedly listed under this page's sessions.)

Sessions Reported: 4

Performances Reported: 17

Unique Songs Reported: 17

Unique Issues Reported: 74