2006 - Music Business Consultant
Steve Wilson was born and raised in Cedar Rapids. It was there he developed a love of music that helped him carve out a life-long career in the music business. His career path has included stops at Pickwick Distribution, Cannonball Records, Simitar Entertainment and a lengthy stint at K-tel International. During that time Wilson has produced, compiled or created hundreds of music releases.
His Cedar Rapids roots exposed him to a lively music scene in the 1960’s. He was able to see such hit-making bands as the Yardbirds, the Animals, Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, the Turtles, Music Machine and the Kingsmen at Danceland. Between attending concerts and spending his weekly allowance on the latest records at Hiltbruner’s music store, Wilson acquired an excellent knowledge of rock and roll.
Wilson formed a band called the Bushmen shortly after the Beatles hit it big. It proved to be a key factor in his career choice. He realized his limitations as a guitarist and figured if he was going to find any success in the music business it would have to be “behind the scenes.”
In 1977, Wilson officially made music his career when he secured a sales position with Pickwick Distribution. The company was a large rackjobber that maintained the record departments in stores Target, Sears, J.C. Penney, etc. It was a great education as he learned first-hand what really sold and what was hype. He worked his way up the ranks eventually becoming the account executive for the Dayton chain. Then Pickwick was sold.
Wilson landed a position in the A&R department at K-tel. Instead of selling and merchandising product, he finally got the opportunity to create it. The timing was good as the popularity of the new CD format was taking off and there was a need in the retail market for a wide variety of products.
A small sampling of the pop/rock compilations Wilson created at K-tel shows his music diversity: “Get Up And Disco”, “Flower Power”, “Biker Rock,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “TV Stars Sing,” “Solid Gold Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “50’s Sock Hop,” “British Beat,” “Jesus Rock,” and country favorites “Hit Country 96,” “Great Ladies of County,” “Opry Stars Sing Gospel,” and “Hooked On Country.”
Wilson was behind K-tel acquiring several albums by the Marshall Tucker Band. He oversaw the reissue of the band’s first eight albums and produced their compilation discs “The Best of The Marshall Tucker Band” and “Country Tucker.”
K-tel gave him the green light to reactivate the Era label as an outlet for projects more inclined for the reissue labels. During his tenure as Director of Era Records, he produced the best of collections by Bobby Vee & the Shadows, Gogi Grant, Fever Tree, John Kay & Steppenwolf, Jan & Dean, Crow and the Castells. The most prestigious package he produced under the Era logo was the four-disc box set “The Brill Building Sound.”
In 1996 Wilson left K-tel to join Simitar Entertainment where he also started a boutique label called Plum Records. It was there he released greatest hits collections by the Climax Blues Band, Foghat, the Castaways and the Fendermen and the double-disc “Big Hits of Mid-America: The Soma Records Story.”
1999 brought to Wilson to Cannonball Records as GM/VP. He returned to K-tel in 2001 to run its music division for several years. Today he works as a music business consultant in the Twin Cities.