I thought it would encounter difficulties,” says John Fry, with delicious understatement, down the phone from Ardent Studios in Memphis, which he founded in 1959. “I thought people would find it so unconventional and so unfriendly that we would have difficulties.” He’s remembering 1975, when Ardent’s promotions man, John King, and Jim Dickinson were visiting the major labels trying to sell a new album that had been recorded at Ardent and produced by Dickinson. “Jim used all his contacts – and he had some high-level ones, as did John. One of his friends at a large label said: ‘Jim, I find this music very disturbing.’ Another guy said to him: ‘Jim, I hope I don’t have to listen to this again.'” No one wanted the third album by the Memphis group Big Star, until it crept out in two markedly different versions on tiny labels in the UK and the US in 1978.
The Guardian has a great piece about Third/Sister Lovers by Big Star, one of my favorite albums in the whole wide world. Go read.