Constellation Album Discography
By David Edwards and Mike Callahan
Last update: November 20, 2005

The Constellation Record label was formed in August 1963 in Chicago, Illinois by Ewart Abner, after he was fired from the Presidency of the Vee Jay label. Constellation was located at 1421 South Michigan Avenue and issued rhythm and blues and gospel music. The label was a subsidiary of the Dart Record Sales Corporation that Abner had started in 1962. There were three owners of the company. Besides Abner, who was President, William E. "Bunky" Sheppard was Vice President and Art Sheridan was Secretary. Art Sheridan was owner of the legendary Chance label in the early 1950's, and the recordings made by the Flamingos, Moonglows, and others on the Chance label were reissued on albums on the Constellation Label.

Gene Chandler was the most important artist on the Constellation Label. Bunky Sheppard had Gene Chandler under a personal contract and was releasing his recordings through Vee Jay, when Abner left Vee Jay, Sheppard also left and brought Chandler to Constellation. Sheppard also brought Dee Clark from Vee Jay to Constellation, but Clark had no sizable national hits on Constellation. Constellation also became distributor of the Ace Record label of Jackson Mississippi, but Ace had no significant hits during this period (although Constellation did issue earlier Ace hits on a compilation album).

When the first two Gene Chandler releases on Constellation, produced by Sheppard, were flops, Sheppard brought in Carl Davis to produce him. His third release was the Curtis Mayfield written gem "Think Nothing About It," which went to Number 28 on the Cashbox R&B survey. In June, 1964, another Mayfield tune, "Just Be True," went to Number 4 and stayed on the charts for 16 weeks. In 1965, Chandler had hits with "You Can't Hurt Me No More," "Nothing Can Stop Me," "(Gonna Be) Good Times," "Rainbow 65," and "Here Comes the Tears".

Although few of the singles issued by Constellation charted nationally, many were played on the big Chicago Top-40 stations of the time, notably WLS. Such tunes as "Uncle Willie Time" by Bobby Miller [Constellation 111], "Sugar Over You" by Carol Vega [Constellation 121], and "Island of Love" by the Sheppards [Constellation 123] all made the WLS charts. Also making the WLS charts in 1964 was a snappy little British-sounding single called "Beatle Time" by the Livers [Constellation 118]. The Livers were a group known as the Chicagoans, featuring Jimmy Holvay and Gary Beisber, well-known songwriters and performers in the mid-60s Chicago teen scene. Holvay and Beisber later wrote many hits for the Buckinghams ("Kind of a Drag," "Susan," "Don't You Care," "Hey, Baby, They're Playing Our Song," etc.), and were the force behind the show band called The Mob, who had several national chart records in the 1970s. Also of note was the Nolan Chance single "If He Makes You (He Can Take You)" [Constellation 144], which raised more than a few eyebrows at radio stations wondering whether to play it.

Because of the small number of artists on Constellation, it was vulnerable to collapse if the company could not continuously churn out hits. When Chandler hit a dry spell in 1966, Constellation went out of business. The chief asset of the label was Gene Chandler's contract, which was sold to Chess Records, although Chandler languished at Chess/Checker. It wasn't until Chandler went to Mercury in 1970 that he started having hits again [e.g., "Groovy Situation"]. Dee Clark never did have any more chart hits. Abner landed on his feet, moving into the Presidency of Motown, while Sheppard moved to the west coast and produced records for 20th Century Fox and others.

The Constellation label is dark blue with silver printing, "CONSTELLATION RECORDS" set in a field of star-like white dots above the center hole. All albums issued on Constellation are thought to have been issued in mono only. The label used their street address, 1421, as the first number in their popular music series, which had but a few albums issued. More to collectors' liking at the time were the reissues on the "Collectors Showcase" series, which featured reissues of the Chance masters and some of Bunky Sheppard's masters, in addition to Johnny Vincent's Ace (US) material and Bobby Robinson's material from his Fire and Fury labels.

We would appreciate any additions or corrections to this discography. Just send them to us via e-mail. Both Sides Now Publications is an information web page. We are not a catalog, nor can we provide the records listed below. We have no association with Constellation Records, which is currently inactive. Should you be interested in acquiring albums listed in this discography (which are all out of print), we suggest you see our Frequently Asked Questions page and follow the instructions found there. This story and discography are copyright 1999 by Mike Callahan.


Number - Title - Artist [Release Date] (Chart) Contents

Popular Series:

LP-1421 - Greatest Hits - Gene Chandler [1964]

LP-1422 - Take This Hammer - Jimmy Witherspoon [1964] Take This Hammer Part 1/Goin' To Chicago Blues/In Blues/Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You/Loser's Blues/Please Send Me Someone To Love //Keys to the Highway/Cry the Blues/Out Blues/Since I Fell For You/Everything/Take This Hammer, Part 2

LP-1423 - Just Be True - Gene Chandler [1964] Just Be True/Little Like Lovin'/It's No Good For Me/From Day To Day/So Many Ways/Check Yourself//You Threw A Lucky Punch/Walk On With The Duke/Forgive Me/London Town/Pretty Little Girl/Miracle After Miracle

LP-1424 -

LP-1425 - Live On Stage In '65 - Gene Chandler [1965] (1-66, #124) Rainbow "65"/If You Can't Be True/Soul Hootenanny/Monkey Time/What Now//Just Be True/Ain't No Use/Bless Our Love/A Song Called Soul

Collectors Showcase Series:

CS-1 - Collectors Showcase, Volume I - Various Artists [1964] Ya Ya - Lee Dorsey/Need Your Lovin' - Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford/There's Something On Your Mind, Part 1 - Bobby Marchan/There's Something on Your Mind, Part 2 - Bobby Marchan/Soul Twist - King Curtis/My Love Will Never Die - Channels/Fanny Mae - Buster Brown//Kansas City - Wilbert Harrison/Do Re Mi - Lee Dorsey/I'm So Happy - Teen Chords/Every Beat Of My Heart - Gladys Knight & Pips (Fury version)/Don't You Worry - Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford/Letter Full of Tears - Gladys Knight & Pips/Wiggle Wobble - Les Cooper & Soul Rockers

CS -2 - Collectors Showcase, Volume II: The Moonglows - Moonglows [1964] I Was Wrong/Real Gone Mama/My Gal/219 Train/Oh Rockin' Daddy/Secret Love//Fine Fine Girl/My Love/Whistle My Love/Lonely Christmas/Baby Please/Hey, Santa Clause

CS -3 - Collectors Showcase, Volume III: The Flamingos - Flamingos [1964] Golden Teardrops/September Song/Cross Over the Bridge/Listen To My Plea, Part 1/Listen To My Plea, Part 2/Vooit Vooit/Blues In A Letter//Someday, Someday/If I Can't Have You/Plan For Love/You Ain't Ready/That's My Desire/Carried Away/Hurry Home Baby

CS -4 - Collectors Showcase, Volume IV: The Sheppards - Sheppards [1964] Island of Love/Never Felt Like This Before/I'm Not Wanted/Never Let Me Go/Forgotten/Queen of Hearts//Tragic/Elevator Operator/Give a Hug to Me/Come to Me/Loving You/Glitter in Your Eyes

CS -5 - Collectors Showcase, Volume V: Groups Three - Various Artists [1964] Lonely Mood - 5 Echoes/That's My Baby - 5 Echoes/Baby Come Back To Me - 5 Echoes/Why, Oh Why - 5 Echoes/So Lonesome - 5 Echoes/Broke - 5 Echoes/Ooh, Baby - Bluenotes//My Gal Is Gone - Bluenotes/I Got To Go, Baby - Bluenotes/Beating Of Our Hearts - Bluenotes/I May Be Small - Five Chances/California - Five Chances/Make Love To Me - Five Chances/Nagasaki - Five Chances

CS -6 - Collectors Showcase, Volume VI: A Bucket of Blues - Various Artists [1964] When I Was Young - Sunnyland Slim with J.B. Lenoir/Bassology - Sunnyland Slim with J.B. Lenoir/Worried About My Baby - Sunnyland Slim with J.B. Lenoir/Livin' In The White House - Johnny Shines & Sunnyland Slim with J.B. Lenoir/Please Don't - Johnny Shines & Sunnyland Slim with J.B. Lenoir/I Can't Stand Being Away From You - T-Bone Walker with Marl Young's Orchestra/Come Back To Me Baby - T-Bone Walker with Marl Young's Orchestra/She's Gonna Rain Me [She Is Going To Ruin Me] - T-Bone Walker with Marl Young's Orchestra/Slow Down Woman - John Lee Hooker with J.B. Lenoir & His Combo/The Mojo - John Lee Hooker with J.B. Lenoir & His Combo/I Want My Baby - John Lee Hooker with J.B. Lenoir & His Combo/How Can I Leave - John Lee Hooker with J.B. Lenoir & His Combo

CS -7 - Collectors Showcase, Volume VII: Aces 3 - Various Artists [1964] Just A Dream - Jimmy Clanton/Another Sleepless Night - Jimmy Clanton/Venus In Blue Jeans - Jimmy Clanton/Go Jimmy Go - Jimmy Clanton/A Letter To An Angel - Jimmy Clanton/Sea Cruise - Frankie Ford/Cheatin' Woman - Frankie Ford/Rockin' Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu - Huey Smith & His Clowns/Don't You Know Yockomo - Huey Smith & His Clowns/High Blood Pressure - Huey Smith & His Clowns/We Like Birdland - Huey Smith & His Clowns

Gospel Series:

LP-100 - Scripture In Song - Dixie Hummingbirds [1964]

LP-101 - Scripture In Song - Harmonizing Four [1964]


LP-103 - Book IV - Angelic Gospel Singers [1965]

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