It all began in the Summer of ’69, when two young Californian boys released a record with some unreleased songs written and performed by Bob Dylan.
“Great White Wonder”, this is the title of the first bootleg in the history of recorded music. Well, actually the very first pressing of that 2-LP set was issued with cover and labels completely blank and white, and resulted in being almost impossible to identify, with no artist, album title or tracklist in any part of the sleeve.
The release of bootlegs has never stopped since!
Tens of thousands of records released in over 50 years, alternative discographies of the greatest musicians, with a top-five consisting of Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen, followed by hundreds of books and legal wars against multinational music corporations (Warner, Columbia, Sony, BMG, Universal, Capitol EMI) ended with the arrival and the spread of the Internet technologies. The ‘illegal’ records have then officially become what they’ve always been, a music product destined to collectors.
The bootleg history can be divided in almost three different phases.
The first phase is the ‘white label’ one, very confused but also heroic, made of very vague memories from the main protagonists themselves.
The second phase was characterized by the historical record label TMOQ (Trade Mark Of Quality), born from the collaboration between the mighty ‘Great White Wonder’ duo Dub and Ken. Especially Dub was the main coordinator in this second era, which lasted up until the first half of the ’80s, producing hundreds of releases under various record labels (TMOQ, Dittolino Disc, Lemon, Takrl), creating the legendary ‘Farm Pig’ and ‘Smoking Pig’ brands. A young talented illustrator, William Stout, designed the cover of about 30 releases that have now become a cult, almost as the one designed by Andy Warhol!
The third phase of the bootleg history begins with the advent of the Compact Disc medium, and identifies with the so-called bootleg legalization. From the Californian freaks to Italian lawyers and businessmen, the nationality and peculiarities of the bootleg producer completely changed.
From the initiative of two advocates and a music shop owner in Milan came in fact the first record label for legalized bootlegs, the Bulldog Records, that in May 1987 released a box containing thirteen 7-inch records by The Beatles, in a print run of 3000 copies. The ‘tag line’, which proved to be fully effective, was “It was more than 20 years ago”.
With millions of records sold all over the globe with tens of different labels (Great Dane, Swingin’ Pig, Oh Boy!, Yellow Dog, KTS and so on…) with main bases in Italy and Germany.
Great Dane, whose associates came from Bulldog Records, during its 10-year spanning activity (this is the period that characterizes the so-called ‘CD live legalized’) has developed its action field not only in the productions of albums but also in the making of books (Bruce Springsteen’s “Roll Your Tapes”) and magazines (“Follow That Dream” and “Satisfaction”), becoming a real and independent average-size official record label.