February 11: The First Gold Record

gold-recordAs you probably know, the Recording Industry Association of America honors high selling albums and songs with records partially made of precious metals. It was on this day in 1942 that this tradition began.

So, what was the first gold record? Why, it was “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra. After 1.2 million copies of that single were sold, the label bosses at RCA Records decided to celebrate this momentous achievement by presenting Miller with a golden plated copy of the vinyl single. RCA decided to continue giving gold records to hit records and soon other record companies followed suit. In 1957, RCA presented Harry Belafonte with the first gold record for an LP for his album Calypso, believed to be the first album to sell over a million copies.

In 1958, the RIAA decided to formally get into the act and became the official certifier of gold records. The first single to receive an RIAA gold record was Perry Como’s “Catch a Falling Star” and the first album to be certified gold was the soundtrack to the movie musical Oklahoma! In 1976, the RIAA introduced the platinum certification, with Johnnie Taylor’s single “Disco Lady” and the Eagles’ Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) the first musical works to receive this honor. Finally, in 1999 a diamond certification was introduced. Today, a gold record is awarded to albums and singles that sell 500,000 copies, platinum to works that sell 1,000,000 copies and diamond to works that sell 10,000,000 copies.

Since “Chattanooga Choo Choo” was the first gold record, I thought it would be fitting that we drink a cocktail called Choo Choo. This toe tapping number was created by Alysia Behun, bartender at Los Angeles’ legendary rock club the Troubadour, as a tribute to the club owner’s dog named Choo Choo. It’s a sweet, almost tropical cocktail.

Choo Choo

  • 1 1/2 ounce Vanilla Vodka
  • 1 1/2 ounce Malibu Rum
  • pineapple juice
  • splash grenadine

Pour the vanilla vodka and Malibu into an ice filled rocks glass. Fill with pineapple juice and top off with a splash of grenadine. Garnish with a cherry and lime.

Tomorrow: A birthday and a memorial.

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