Morrison native and influential music industry executive Randy Wood died last Saturday, April 9, at his home in La Jolla, Calif. He was 94.
Wood was born in Morrison in 1917 and graduated from Morrison High School where his father was a prominent educator, according to county historian James A. Dillon. Wood joined the military shortly after graduation and served in the Air Force during World War II.
He didn’t return to live in Warren County after his tenure in the military, Dillon says, although he did make appearances in his hometown. One popular picture of Wood showed him golfing at McMinnville Country Club in a foursome that included Lawrence Welk.
“He set the world on fire when it came to records,” said Dillon. “He got several prominent people to record on his label, which was Dot Records, and he sold his records all over the country. That was during the jukebox era when people were feeding the jukebox to hear their favorite songs and Randy always had several records in those jukeboxes. We’re proud to say he was from Warren County.”
After his time in the military, Wood settled in Gallatin where he influenced the entertainment industry for over 50 years from Randy’s Record Shop. Wood first started a mail-order business for albums that were 78 RPM in 1947. What would become Dot Records would grow to one of the largest mail-order record businesses in the world.
Through Dot Records, Wood discovered pop star Pat Boone, who helped popularize songs by R&B stars Little Richard and Fats Domino. Boone later said Wood was one of the people to thank for his successful career.
Numerous other famous artists of the time such as Billy Vaughn, Lawrence Welk, Tab Hunter, Debbie Reynolds, the Mills Brothers, Jimmy C. Newton and Leroy Van Dyke were also on the Dot Records label.
By 1950, the store was selling 500,000 records a year throughout the United States and in foreign markets. In 1951, the annual sales totaled $62,000. A decade later, the total was $16 million.
The funeral service for Mr. Wood was private.