SOLAR (acronym for Sound of Los Angeles) Records was an American record label founded in 1977 by Dick Griffey, reconstituted out of Soul Train Records only two years after it was founded with Soul Train television show host and creator Don Cornelius.
SOLAR began in 1975 as Soul Train Records, founded by Dick Griffey and Soul Train creator Don Cornelius. The first act they signed was an R&B vocal quartet they named The Soul Train Gang (Gerald Brown, Terry Brown, Judy Jones, Patricia Williamson, and later Denise Smith), who performed one of Soul Train’s many themes, “Soul Train ’75”. Their first album was entitled Don Cornelius Presents The Soul Train Gang. In 1976, their second album, The Soul Train Gang, produced by Philly‘s Norman Harris, was released. The Gang broke up in 1977.
Griffey formed a collective called Shalamar, using a host of session singers to record “Uptown Festival,” a disco-length medley of early Motown hits. After scoring a hit with the recording, he looked to Cornelius to help him put together an actual group to maintain the impact. In 1977, Soul Train dancers Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel and former Soul Train Gang member Gerald Brown (who was eventually replaced by Howard Hewett) were recruited to form the new Shalamar, which would become the fledgling label’s centerpiece. Cornelius decided to shut down the label, wanting to focus his energies on the show — which was a monster hit and required his full attention to keep it so. With legalities now taken care of, Griffey reorganized Soul Train Records into the newly founded SOLAR label in late 1977. Griffey and Cornelius remained good friends, and as a result SOLAR maintained close ties to the Soul Train show.