我對你懷念特別多 ──海山唱片浮沈錄

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2005 / 11月

文‧張夢瑞 圖‧張夢瑞提供紀秋吉


今年6月,「帽子歌后」鳳飛飛重現江湖,演唱會上萬人爭睹,當天的招牌曲目,像「楓葉情」、「祝你幸福」、「碧城故事」、「友情的安慰」等,大多是出自海山時期的名曲,勾起許多中年歌迷的甜美回憶。

台灣歷史悠久的唱片公司很多,有的現在依然存在,只是沒有新片發行,但坊間仍然可以買到它們當年極盛時的歌曲,那是業者經過重新整理包裝,然後以嶄新的面貌問世,試圖吸引懷舊者的青睞;有的唱片公司則已成了歷史名詞,彷彿斷了線的風箏,不知飄向何方?曾經是台灣流行歌壇霸主的海山唱片,它的今昔滄桑,就是台灣唱片史的小小縮影。


成立於民國51年的海山唱片,當年曾獨霸歌壇:它開啟台灣唱片業的黃金歲月,記錄下許多國人自創的國語流行歌曲,同時捧紅民國50到80年代數不清的藝人,像是謝雷、姚蘇蓉、尤雅、翁倩玉、楊小萍、劉家昌、鳳飛飛、甄妮、銀霞、梁弘志、蔡琴、費玉清等人的成名曲,都是經海山灌錄後,才在歌壇大放光芒的。

雖然「海山」已遠離主流市場,它在唱片業曾擁有的領導地位卻是不能抹滅的,目前坊間仍陳列著它早年膾炙人口的歌曲。

蟲膠唱片

提到海山唱片之前,讓我們回過頭來,看看台灣早期的唱片業,究竟是怎麼樣的一種情況?

電唱機、唱片傳入台灣,是在日據時代,台灣有能力製作唱片則是光復以後的事,但是真正由國人自己作曲、填詞,且能大量生產的唱片,還是在民國50年以後才出現的。當時正值經濟起飛,隨著國民所得日益提升,娛樂風氣興起,給了唱片業很大的發展空間。

民國40年前後,台灣出現幾家小型家庭式的唱片製作工廠,如麗歌、亞洲、女王、鳴鳳、環球等。在篳路藍縷的草創期,硬體、軟體都很缺乏,更談不上企劃宣傳。當時錄音是用手搖的方式,以水銀製的接觸器在蠟上製版,唱片則是用「印度洋乾漆」(又稱「蟲膠」)製的硬片製成,不但片質不佳,容易破碎,而且一面只能錄3分鐘,是名副其實的單曲唱片。

當時唱片內容全部是翻版國外唱片,主要是各國的古典音樂,和早期中國上海、香港流行的國語歌曲;周璇、白光、李香蘭、姚莉、吳鶯音是當時最受歡迎的歌星。另外,大陸京劇名角梅蘭芳、程硯秋等人的作品,還有日本的音樂和歌曲,同樣受到愛樂者的喜愛。

由於價格不菲,當時擁有唱機的人家不多,購買唱片的人也自然有限,一般民眾都是透過廣播收聽自己喜愛的音樂。唱片公司為了省錢,不論何種唱片一律使用同一種封套,色彩、圖案都很單調,談不上設計。

第一張唱片──國歌

雖然台灣在民國41年有了自製唱片的能力,但直到43年,才開始有自己錄音的唱片問世──那是由大中華唱片公司發行,國防部示範樂隊所演奏的國歌,刻版的機器還是早年由中國大陸帶出來的呢。據當時參與刻版的工作人員透露,在這之前,他們並沒有接觸過唱片製作,完全是憑想像和摸索做出來的。

以後,各家唱片公司陸續試著錄音,但所出版的唱片仍以翻版早年及國外唱片為主,除了買的人不多外,當時台灣無論國語及台語的作曲人才都很有限,成氣候的歌手也不多。國語歌曲較出名的作曲家是周藍萍,由他創作的「綠島小夜曲」、「願嫁漢家郎」、「回想曲」,很受民眾歡迎,也捧紅了主唱人紫薇。可惜未久周藍萍被香港邵氏公司網羅,使剛剛萌芽的國語歌壇又陷入停滯狀態。

直到民國50年代初期,情況才稍稍改觀。當時包括四海、亞洲、國際、合眾、麗歌、鳴鳳等唱片公司,紛紛開始錄製國語流行歌曲。所謂的流行歌曲,就是把過去在上海、香港流行的歌曲拿來重新編曲,邀請具有知名度的歌星,包括紫薇、敏華、雪華、趙莉莉、美黛等歌星演唱,市場反映不惡,這給了唱片公司很大的信心。漸漸地,在這些重新編曲的老歌中,也會加入一、二首國人自創的新歌,只是數量有限。

錄音室裡的眼淚

當時錄音室還沒有冷氣設備,又怕有雜音而不能吹電扇,在密不透風的錄音室裡灌錄唱片,是一件備極辛勞的工作。因此每當錄音時,工作人員就拎著幾個大冰塊放在錄音室各角落,設法降溫,但效果有限。等正式開錄時,所有的樂師都忍不住脫下外衣,最後乾脆打著赤膊,在揮汗如雨的情況下為歌星伴奏。錄音一結束,每個人都急著往外衝,嘴裡直喊「熱死了!」

今年82歲的老牌錄音師葉和鳴,就見證了這段辛苦的錄音歲月。他說,當時還沒有所謂的立體幾聲道,有聲音就已經很不錯了,「因為採現場錄音,無論樂隊及歌星,每個人都戰戰兢兢,事先就把曲子練得滾瓜爛熟,否則進到錄音室,不管誰錯了一個音,都得全部從頭來過,不被大夥兒怨死才怪!」

由於要求嚴格,歌星淚灑錄音室是常有的事。葉和鳴透露,「盈淚歌后」姚蘇蓉為了唱「今天不回家」的「家」字,從深夜2點,直唱到天亮才正式收工,挨罵是免不了的,所以剛出大門她就泣不成聲,但辛苦是有代價的,這首歌讓她紅透半邊天。

《群星會》與《寶島歌聲》

民國52年,黃梅調電影《梁山伯與祝英台》轟動華人世界,港台兩地也一窩蜂跟進搶拍。邵氏公司為了替該公司出品的影片宣傳,應允國內唱片公司可以進戲院免費拷錄銷售。一時間各唱片公司忙著錄製邵氏出品的黃梅調電影,民眾也爭相購買。

從事唱片生意近50年的金音唱片行老板黃木山,對當年民眾瘋狂搶購的往事記憶猶新。他說,每天上門買黃梅調唱片的顧客多得不計其數,男女老幼都有,買完了《梁祝》,接著又買《花木蘭》、《七仙女》、《血手印》。台灣出品的《狀元及第》、《鳳陽花鼓》同樣受到顧客的關愛,唱片行從早上8點開門,一直忙到晚上10點才能休息。

《梁祝》電影走紅的同時,正逢台灣電視公司開播不久,關華石與慎芝夫婦開闢了一個歌唱節目《群星會》,捧紅了張琪、謝雷、冉肖玲、余天、青山、婉曲這些新人。稍後另一個以台語歌曲為主的《寶島歌聲》也開播了。電視歌唱節目的出現,進一步助長了國內唱片業的成長。

根據台灣區唱片公會的統計,從政府遷台至民國54年止,向內政部登記有案的唱片公司家數,從不滿10家增至72家,其中一半自己有製片工廠。雖然工廠設備都很簡陋,但是卻為國內唱片的拓展投注無限心力,成功培育出無數紅極一時的歌星。海山唱片就是其中的佼佼者。

強攻東南亞

當時國語流行歌曲唱片先以國內為主要市場,之後向海外拓展。民國54年,海山唱片負責人鄭鎮坤到東南亞參加商展,結果發現當地僑胞對祖國文化極為熱愛,他們一直努力把中國的語言、文字、音樂、文化教導給下一代,而流行歌曲正是其中最輕鬆活潑,影響卻最深遠的。

鄭鎮坤在瞭解整個情況後,回到台灣立刻積極策劃唱片大量輸出的工作,同時派歌星到當地參加義演,或由當地歌廳、夜總會聘請前往駐唱。沒多久,東南亞遂成為台灣唱片的主要市場,唱片輸出最多時一年可達80萬張左右,銷售量不比在台灣本島差。

鄭鎮坤回憶當年的情景說:「一般人並不清楚,為什麼早年台灣歌手在東南亞這麼受歡迎,每次登台都觀眾爆滿,主要原因就是國內生產的唱片早已搶先一步打進當地市場,歌星們乘勝追擊,焉有不受歡迎之理?」

早在民國25年,台灣作曲家姚讚福與作詞家陳達儒攜手創作了一首台語歌曲「悲戀的酒杯」,當時並未引起太多注意,豈知30年後,也就是民國56年,海山唱片將這首歌改成國語歌曲,取名「苦酒滿杯」,由慎芝重新填詞,謝雷主唱,推出後轟動全台。就在「苦酒滿杯」賣的搶搶滾時,有關單位下令禁唱這首「靡靡之音」,不料引來更多民眾關注,銷售量節節上升。

反攻香港

現代人很難想像,當年「苦酒滿杯」的盛況。據謝雷表示,當時他在台北後火車站開了一家「阿哥哥唱片行」。「苦酒滿杯」竄紅時,他的唱片行每天可售出400張,忙得不可開交。每次到土城補貨,都要用鐵牛車運載。通常鐵牛車剛到,等在唱片行門口的歌迷就迫不急待上前搶購,外務員根本不用卸貨,所有的唱片轉眼就被搶光了!

由於「苦酒滿杯」太暢銷了,引起翻版(盜版)者的覬覦,一張25元新台幣的唱片,翻版只賣10元,銷售量不比正版遜色。根據海山估計,連翻版在內,「苦酒滿杯」的印製量大概突破100萬張。

緊接著,海山發行由姚蘇蓉主唱的「負心的人」(中文歌詞,日本歌曲),也是賣得嚇嚇叫。但真正讓海山稱霸的是民國58年,由姚蘇蓉主唱的「今天不回家」。

對台灣歌壇來說,「今天不回家」還有一層特殊意義。原來民國52年凌波以港片《梁祝》轟動寶島,想不到6年後,台灣才靠姚蘇蓉的「今天不回家」一舉反攻,征服香港!在這之前,台灣出品的不管是電影或唱片,都得不到香港人的共鳴,「今天不回家」一開始試探香港市場時,也被同業嫌棄,根本賣不進去,最後被一位非唱片界的港商買下,沒想到一炮而紅,也打破了「香港人不聽台灣流行歌」的魔咒。

當時姚蘇蓉帶著這首歌赴港獻唱,不僅現場盛況空前,也創下驚人的銷售量。香港這個彈丸之地,居然賣出近40萬張。姚蘇蓉迅速走紅,登台的酬勞也屢創新高,國內藝人趁著這個熱潮,一波波赴港淘金,成績十分可觀。

繼「今天不回家」後,海山又陸續推出蔡咪咪的「媽媽送我一個吉它」、尤雅「往事只能回味」、劉家昌「梅花」、歐陽菲菲「熱情的沙漠」、楊小萍「對你懷念特別多」、翁倩玉「祈禱」……,每一張都得到歌迷的熱烈迴響,聽歌也成了那個苦悶年代的最溫馨回憶。

眾星雲集,詞曲陣容堅強

到了70年代國片起飛,也就是「二秦二林」(秦祥林、秦漢,和林鳳嬌、林青霞)時代,海山又配合電影,製作出一張張叫好叫座的電影插曲,包括甄妮的「誓言」、「晴時多雲偶陣雨」,鳳飛飛的「楓葉情」、「半山飄雨半山晴」,還有費玉清紅遍華人地區的「中華民國頌」等。

當時負責海山宣傳工作的陳和平表示,那是海山的黃金時代,許多原本在其他唱片公司的藝人,紛紛跳槽加盟海山,例如崔苔菁、陳蘭麗、青山、美黛、湯蘭花、白嘉莉、倪賓、張琍敏、甄秀珍……。可以說,國內著名的歌星,80%以上都在海山旗下。當年海山能夠在眾多唱片公司中脫穎而出,居台灣流行樂界的天王地位,主要是經營者的眼光獨到。海山唱片成立不久,便開始網羅作曲及作詞家,當時比較有名氣的全被海山網羅,作曲家有左宏元、駱明道、劉家昌、林家慶、翁清溪、黃敏等,作詞家有慎芝、莊奴、孫儀、林煌坤,陣容相當龐大。

由於唱片大賣,作曲、作詞家的工作量也跟著增加。據資深作詞家莊奴表示,當時他與左宏元搭檔寫歌,2人被海山追得團團轉,即使每天一睜開眼就工作,也無法滿足市場的需求。

「為了逃避唱片公司的追趕,我跟左宏元最後躲到西門町一家旅館裡,除了家人,沒有人知道我們的下落!結果在旅館住了半個月,才勉強『擠』出一些東西,」莊奴以「好辛苦,但也好有成就感」來形容那段輝煌歲月。

民國64年,校園民歌在台灣掀起狂潮,新格唱片公司又舉辦「金韻獎歌謠比賽」,發掘出不少歌唱人才。海山也抓住這個機會,舉辦「民謠風」選拔,拔擢了一批優秀歌手及作曲人,為校園民歌加溫,如:梁弘志、蔡琴、葉佳修、陳淑樺、銀霞、潘安邦等。其中蔡琴的「恰似你的溫柔」、葉佳修的「鄉間小路」、陳淑樺的「紅樓夢」、銀霞的「蘭花草」、潘安邦的「外婆的澎湖灣」,都成了民歌的經典作品,直到今天依然讓身為四、五年級生的中年聽友懷念不已。

開枝散葉,弦歌不輟

獨霸市場多年的海山,進入民國70年代未久,遭逢到一連串的打擊;首先是海山投資太多,資金無法回收,接著在民國72年12月,因為資金周轉不靈,向信託公司求助,最後發生股權糾紛,雙方訴諸法律,大大傷了海山的元氣。另一個讓海山受傷慘重的是,坊間翻印盜版猖獗。海山是國內出片最多的唱片公司,擁有的暢銷歌曲最多,遭盜錄的自然也最多。

在爆發股權糾紛之後,海山逐漸沉寂,又因為版權紛爭而無法正常出片,內部人員也紛紛離職自立門戶,像日後的「點將唱片」及「瑞星唱片」的負責人,都是昔日海山的工作人員。

在海山淡出市場的前後,國內已經陸續興起了許多新的唱片公司,像滾石、飛碟、飛羚等等,還有不少個人音樂工作室也相繼成立,如沈光遠與黃韻玲夫妻的「友善的狗工作室」、「譚健常音樂工作室」、李壽全的「李約工作室」、齊秦的「虹音樂工作室」、翁孝良的「銘聲工作室」、姚鳳崗的「音樂田公司」等,數量十分可觀。這些個人工作室的共同點,就是負責人本身即為著名的作曲人或歌手,在音樂創作領域上,各據一片天地,競爭愈演愈烈。

有人以「從絢麗到沈寂的巨星」形容遠離市場的海山唱片,事實上,海山並未倒閉,只是不再發行新片。而今年已年近70的海山老闆鄭鎮坤回憶往事也看得很開,過去星光雲集的燦爛不再,目前海山靠著過去積累的寶貴資產仍可維持,尤其近兩年歌壇懷舊風興起,當老歌星復出時,海山順勢推出數位化後重新包裝的唱片,仍然可以在市場上穩佔一席之地。

海山多年的歷史,曾為國內唱片業帶來重大貢獻,這是不容抹滅的,特別是它在發掘本土音樂人才及培植歌唱新秀上的成就,值得有心人士進一步研究發揚。

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The Haishan Records Story

Chang Meng-jui /photos courtesy of courtesy of Chang Meng-jui and by Chi Chiu-chi /tr. by Scott Gregory

In June of this year, singer Feng Fei Fei--the "Queen of Hats"--made her stage comeback. More than 10,000 people turned out to hear her perform her hits like "Maple Leaf Love" and "Wishing You Happiness." Most date from the era when Haishan Records ruled the charts--a time to which middle-aged music lovers look back fondly.

There are many record companies in Taiwan with long histories, and some of them are still around. They aren't putting out new records, but you can still buy copies of the oldies. The companies are putting them together in new packages for re-release to catch the eye of nostalgic music lovers. Some of these record companies' names have already become history, disappearing from sight like a kite with the string cut. The story of the rise and fall of Haishan Records, once a dominating force in Taiwanese pop, encapsulates the history of the record business in Taiwan.


Haishan Records was founded in 1962. It dominated the charts at the time, and sparked the golden age of Taiwan's record industry. It recorded many locally produced Mandarin pop songs and launched many of the top artists of the 1960s through the 1990s, such as Liang Hung-chih, Tsai Chin, and Fei Yu-ching. Those artists all hit the big time after releasing records on Haishan.

Although Haishan is already far from the mainstream, its former glory as a leader in the record industry hasn't faded. Those hits from yesteryear are still on record store shelves.

Shellac singles

Before looking at Haishan, let us take a look at conditions in the early days of Taiwan's record industry.

Records and record players arrived in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial era. Taiwan became capable of manufacturing records after its handover to the Republic of China in 1945, but true mass-production of records of locally written songs did not come about until the 1960s. That was when the economy began to soar, and as incomes rose, the record industry had a better chance to sell its entertainment-related products.

In the 1950s, several small mom-and-pop record pressing plants appeared in Taiwan, such as Beautiful Song, Asia, Queen, Crying Phoenix, and Globe. Those early pioneers lacked much of the basic equipment they needed, not to mention business planning or marketing. At the time, the recording device was turned by crank, and a sensor containing mercury cut grooves into wax. The records were made from shellac discs. Not only were they of poor quality and easily broken, but they could only contain three minutes of recording--"singles" in the true sense of the word.

Records from that era were all re-pressings of overseas records, mostly of classical music and early Shanghai and Hong Kong pop songs by top artists of the day such as Zhou Xuan, Bai Guang, Li Xianglan, Yao Li, and Wu Yingyin. In addition, records of Peking Opera stars like Mei Lanfang and Cheng Yanqiu and music from Japan were also popular.

Record players were still too expensive for most people in those days, so the record-buying public was of limited number. Most people listened to the radio to hear their favorite music. To cut costs, record companies used the same cover for all records they put out. The colors and illustrations used were basic, to say nothing of the design.

Taiwan's first record

Though Taiwan gained the capacity to manufacture its own records in 1952, it wasn't until 1954 that the first disk recorded in Taiwan came out--that was the Great China Record Company's recording of the Ministry of National Defense Model Band's rendition of the national anthem. The pressing equipment had been brought over from China. Former employees of the pressing plant have said that before that, they'd never been involved in such a job before. They relied on their imaginations and figured it out as they went along.

After that, all the record companies attempted recording, but the records they put out were still mostly the same oldies and music from abroad. Not only were there few record buyers, but there were few writers or accomplished singers of Mandarin or Taiwanese songs in Taiwan at the time.

It wasn't until the early 1960s that the situation gradually started to change. Then record companies such as Four Seas, Asia, International, United, Beautiful Song, and Crying Phoenix began to produce Mandarin pop records. What was called "pop" at the time was re-arranged versions of the old Shanghai and Hong Kong standards sung by famous singers. The commercial reaction was warm, encouraging the record companies to continue. Gradually, to these re-arranged standards were added a handful of new, locally written songs, though still only in limited numbers.

Sweat and tears in the studio

In those days, recording studios didn't have air conditioning, and there weren't even electric fans for fear they'd make too much noise. It was tough work recording in those closed-in studios. During recording sessions, studio employees would place large blocks of ice in the corners of the studio to try to keep the temperatures down, but only with limited success. When the recording started, musicians couldn't help but take off their jackets and even their shirts, sweating away as they played backup for the singer. When the recording would finish, everyone would dart outside, shouting, "It's so hot!"

Yeh Ho-ming, an 82-year-old former recording engineer, was there in that era of sweaty sessions. He says that in those days before multi-track stereo recording, if there was any sound at all they felt they were doing pretty well. "Because it was all recorded live, everybody--the band and the singer--rehearsed beforehand until they knew the song back and forth. If anybody at all made a mistake during recording, everybody would have to start all over again, and don't think they wouldn't catch heat from the others!"

Because the job was so demanding, more than one singer broke down in tears in the studio. Yeh reveals that it took "Queen of Tears" Yao Su-jung from two in the morning until dawn to get the word "home" right in her song "Not Going Home Today," much to the anger of the others on the session. She broke down and cried her eyes out the moment she left the studio. She may have gotten a hard time, but it was worth it--the song was her breakout hit.

Musical television

In 1963, the film The Love Eterne, which was based on the Huangmei Opera Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, became a sensation in the Chinese world, and both Taiwan and Hong Kong began churning out Huangmei Opera movies. To garner publicity, the Shaw Brothers film studios of Hong Kong allowed Taiwanese record companies to go into theaters to record the films' soundtracks for sale. For a time the record companies rushed to put out Shaw Brothers Huangmei Opera soundtracks, and the public snapped them up.

Huang Mu-shan, owner of the record store Gold Sounds, has been in the business for nearly 50 years. He remembers the Shaw Brothers soundtrack craze as if it were yesterday. He says countless customers--male and female, young and old--would buy the Huangmei Opera soundtracks, filling the store from opening time at 8 a.m to closing time at 10 p.m.

At the time The Love Eterne was popular, Taiwan Television had just come on the air. Producers Kuan Hua-shih and Shen Chih started a show called A Group of Stars, on which stars like Chang Chi, Hsieh Lei, Jan Hsiao-ling, Yu Tien, Ching Shan, and Wan Chu got their starts. Soon after that, a show called Sounds of Formosa featuring primarily Taiwanese-language songs came on the air. The appearance of these musical shows brought the Taiwanese record industry into maturity.

According to record industry statistics, record companies registered with the Ministry of the Interior went from under ten in 1949 to 72 in 1965, half of which had their own pressing plants. Though their plants were basic, they were the driving force in the development of the local record industry and they produced countless stars. Haishan Records was one of the most notable of them.

Southeast Asian invasion

At first pop records were mainly marketed to domestic audiences, but later they expanded into foreign markets. In 1965, Haishan head Cheng Chen-kun went to Southeast Asia on business, only to discover that the overseas Chinese communities there had a strong appetite for Chinese culture. They strove to pass on their language, music and culture to the younger generations, and pop music was one of the most lively and pervasive formats by which to do so.

After realizing the situation, Cheng immediately upon his return to Taiwan began planning large-scale expansion into Southeast Asia as well as concerts and nightclub performances there by popular stars of the day. Soon, Southeast Asia became a major market for Taiwanese records, importing as many as 800,000 a year--around the same number as were sold in Taiwan.

Recalling those days, Cheng says, "Most people don't understand why Taiwanese singers were so popular in Southeast Asia in the early days, why every time they'd perform to sold-out houses. The main reason is that records produced in Taiwan were the first to get a foothold in the markets there, and the stars followed up quickly. How could they not be popular?"

Way back in 1936, Taiwanese songwriter Yao Tsan-fu and lyricist Chen Ta-ju cooperated in writing the Taiwanese-language song "Wine Cup of Sorrow." It didn't attract much interest at the time, but in 1967 Haishan produced a Mandarin version called "Full Cup of Bitter Wine." With new lyrics by Shen Chih sung by Hsieh Lei, the new version was a big hit in Taiwan. Just as it was flying off the shelves, the authorities banned the singing of this "decadent" song. That just brought more attention to the song and it sold even more.

Taking Hong Kong

It's hard to picture the success of "Full Cup of Bitter Wine" now. Hsieh Lei says that in those days he had a record shop called A-Go-Go near the Taipei train station, and at the height of the song's popularity, the store would sell 400 copies a day. They were so busy there was no time to rest. They'd drive a truck out to Tucheng to restock, and as soon as they got back to the store, the truck would be surrounded by fans who'd want to buy the record right then and there. The employees didn't even need to bring the records into the store--they'd sell out right off the truck!

Immediately following that, Haishan put out Yao Su-jung's "Heartless Person," a Japanese tune given Mandarin lyrics. It, too, was a smash hit, but the one that really cemented Haishan's position at the top was 1969's "Not Going Home Today" by Yao.

To the Taiwanese music world, "Not Coming Home Today" had another special significance. In 1963, as the mania for the Hong Kong-made The Love Eterne swept Taiwan, who would have thought that six years later, a Taiwanese song--Yen's "Not Coming Home Today"--would strike back and conquer Hong Kong? Before that, Taiwan-made content, whether movies or music, never found an audience in Hong Kong. "Not Coming Home Today" wasn't picked up for the Hong Kong market at first, but later a Hong Kong businessman from outside the industry bought up the rights. It immediately became a surprise hit, breaking the conventional wisdom that said Hong Kongers wouldn't listen to Taiwanese pop.

When Yao Su-jung went to Hong Kong to perform her hit, not only was the concert a record-breaking success, but the record sold even more copies. In tiny Hong Kong, it sold nearly 400,000 copies. Yao became an even bigger star, and her concert intakes broke records, too. More Taiwanese artists rode this wave of popularity and made successful tours of Hong Kong.

Stable of stars

In the 1970s, Taiwanese-made films gained popularity. That was the age of "the two Chins and the two Lins"--Charlie Chin, Chin Han, Lin Fung-chiao, and Brigitte Lin. Haishan once again worked with the film industry, putting out song after song from hit movies. They included Jenny Tseng's "Promise" and "Rain in the Sun," Feng Fei Fei's "Maple Leaf Love" and "The Early Spring," and Fei Yu-ching's "Song of the Republic of China," which was a hit with ethnic Chinese all over.

Chen Ho-ping, who was in charge of promotion for Haishan in those days, says those were the company's golden years. Many artists signed to other labels made the jump over to Haishan at that time, and the company ended up with more than 80% of the famous singers of the day.

That Haishan was able to outpace the other record companies and take the top position in Taiwan's music world was due to its unique vision. Soon after it was formed, Haishan began to capture songwriters and lyricists. It managed to assemble a large team of all the big names in the business, including songwriters Tso Hung-yuan, Luo Ming-tao, Liu Chia-chang, Lin Chia-ching, Weng Ching-hsi, and Huang Min, as well as lyricists Shen Chih, Chuang Nu, Sun Yi, and Lin Huang-kun.

As the records were selling well, the writers and lyricists had more and more work to do. Experienced lyricist Chuang Nu says that when he and writer Tso Hung-yuan worked together, Haishan was always after them to produce songs, and even working all their waking hours they couldn't fulfill the market demand.

"To get away from the record company Tso Hung-yuan and I would hide out in a hotel in Hsimenting. Nobody besides our families knew where we were! We ended up staying there for a couple weeks before we forced ourselves to squeeze out a couple songs," Chuang recalls. He says that those glory days were tough, but something to be proud of.

In 1975, "campus folk music" took Taiwan by storm. New Style Records organized the Golden Melody Song Contest, which attracted many singers. Haishan also jumped on the bandwagon, organizing its own folk song contest which also drew submissions from a number of outstanding folk artists and songwriters. Entries that proved to be classics of the campus folk genre included "Just Like Your Tenderness" by Tsai Chin, "Little Country Road" by Yeh Chia-hsiu, "Dream of Red Mansions" by Chen Shu-hua, "Orchid Grass" by Yin Hsia, and "Grandmother's Penghu Bay" by Peng An-pang. Even today, those songs will strike a note of nostalgia in the hearts of Taiwanese born in the 1950s and 1960s.

Haishan's legacy

The mighty Haishan was hit by a series of blows in the early 1980s. It had invested too much of its assets, leading to cash flow difficulties. In December of 1983 it sought financial help from a trust company, and this led to a dispute over ownership of its stock. The dispute went to court, and the effort of the litigation sapped the company's drive. Piracy was also hurting the company--as Haishan was the biggest and best-selling record company, it was naturally the most widely pirated.

Before the stock dispute broke out, Haishan was already tied up in legal problems over copyrights and was unable to operate normally. Many employees left to do business on their own--later record companies like Dieng Jung and HKG were started by former Haishan employees.

As Haishan was fading, new companies like Rock, UFO, and Feeling sprouted up. A good number of promising private recording studios also opened, like Shen Guang-yuan and Huang Yun-ling's Friendly Dog, Tan Chien-chang's Music Studio, Li Shou-chuan's Li Yue Studio, Chyi Chin's Rainbow Studio, Weng Hsiao-liang's Top Production Company, and Yao Feng-kang's Music Field Company. The common point among all these private studios is that they were all started up by famed songwriters or singers. Each studio carved out a piece of territory for itself, and the competition heated up.

Many people think of Haishan as a company whose time has come and gone, but in actuality it never went away. It just no longer puts out new records. Owner Cheng Chen-kun, who's close to 70 now, knows well that the company's glory days are gone, and that it must now rely on its wealth of accumulated classics for its existence. That's been especially so over the last couple years, when a wave of musical nostalgia has been sweeping over Taiwan. As stars of yesteryear return to the limelight, Haishan puts out newly packaged CD versions of their catalogues that always find a place in the market.

Over the years, Haishan made a great contribution to Taiwan's record industry that will never be forgotten. Its role as a pioneer in the discovery and development of local talent has earned it a place in Taiwan's musical history.

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