The 78rpm Home Page - Flexo

Flexo Records were the brainchild Of Jesse J. Warner. Originally manufactured in Kansas City starting in 1925, the "flexible" record that Warner designed and unsuccessfully tried to patent came in a variety of colors. Used originally for private custom records in sizes ranging from 3" to 16", and playable at speeds of 78RPM or 33 1/3RPM, the "New Flexo" rcords, as they became known, also included a handful of commercial sides by the Johnnie Campbell Orchestra, a black band which recorded tunes including "Tin Roof Blues" and "Jimtown Blues".

By 1929, the Kansas City company had moved to San Francisco with Warner as recording engineer. "The Pacific Coast Record Company" was located at 1040 Geary Street. Many West Coast bands recorded for Flexo...including Jack Coakley's Tait at the Beach Orchestra, Lew Reynolds Flexo Recording Orchestra, and George Druck's Sweet's Ballroom Orchestra.

Jack Coakley served as "musical director" for Flexo until 1932. His band recorded at least a dozen popular tunes of the day. Flexo continued to specialize in private recordings as well.

None of the musicians present at the various recording sessions remember how or where "Flexos" were sold. They don't recall selling or giving them away at band performances.

One clue to the marketing of Flexos comes from a four page Pacific Coast Record Catalog that lists Flexos #100-134. Numbers 100-122 are ten inches in diameter and play from the inside out @ .75 each. Numbers 123-134 are eight inches in diameter and play from the outside in @ .40 each. Here's how the catalog touts "unbreakable records":

"Phonograph manufacturers have beeen searching for years and the record buying public has been looking forward to obtainig a record that is UNBREAKABLE AND EVERLASTING. The new FLEXO RECORD meets these requirements. It cannot be BROKEN OR CRACKED; is of light weight for easy mailing and does not mutilate or mar easily. The new FLEXO RECORD is constructed of a specially processed material sufficiently delicate to produce the finest and natural tone qualities. The new FlEXO RECORDS have been put through the most trying and extraordinary tests, they have been thrown in the streets, run over by automobiles and trucks for hours at a time, they have been layed out under the burning rays of the hot summer sun without materially affecting their rendition qualities. They will wear almost indefinitely and are a permanent and lasting record. The PACIFIC COAST RECORD CORPORATION, in the production of the new FLEXO RECORD, has also developed the recording of sound waves by an entirely new process of phongraph recording, giving you a true reproduction of all sounds from the blare of a brass band to the whispered word. Only use the ordinary, new steel needle for the reproduction of the FLEXO RECORD.

It seems Warner was more the inventor type than a marketing genius, and by 1934, the Pacific Record Company declared bankruptcy. Another company started up at the same address called Titan Productions which continued to produce mostly advertising records and radio transcriptions --and employed J.J. Warner--until 1939.


Courtesy John Aldrich