Various Artists (Challenge Records)

Launched in March 1957, Challenge Records was the product of a partnership between the veteran cowboy actor and singer Gene Autry and two song publishers, Johnny Thompson and Joe Johnson, who ran Golden West Melodies in Hollywood.

Although Autry was the main shareholder and company figurehead, the everyday practicalities were left to the two others who ran Challenge as an extension of their already profitable song publishing activities. The partnership was consolidated with the formation of a new publishing wing, JAT Music (an acronym for Johnson, Autry and Johnson).

Challenge's initial artists were Autry himself, country crooner Jerry Wallace and a 23 year-old songwriter-vocalist named Dave Burgess. A deal with Texan songsmith and entrepreneur Danny Wolfe (whose songs were first published by Golden West) brought a black vocal group, The Commodores, and a clean-cut rockabilly, Huelyn Duvall, to the label. Burgess was ambitious as well as talented and Challenge relied on his creative inspiration right from the start...

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