*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.
As we reach to the conclusion of our “Behind the Music” series, we are going to look at the 8-track. Similar to the cassette tape, the 8-track was extremely popular during its hey-day but it eventually vanished into the dark.
The man behind 8-track cartridge system was William Powell Lear: his company, Lear Jet, Ampex Magnetic Tape Company, RCA Records, and Ford Motor Company introduced the system in 1965; however, Motorola joined in 1966 (Moore, 2010). Cassettes came out at the same time; however, they were marketed for “… at-home recording devices” and “… Ford Motor Company began to offer 8-track decks in its 1966 models cars” (“8-track tapes belong in a museum,” 2011). The production of the early 8-tracks occurred in Illinois but moved over Japan from 1965 to 1975; however, 8-tracks began to disappear in early 1980’s and cassettes took over (Morton, 1998).
This particular 8-track is from Jim Nabors, better known for his role as Gomer Pyle from “The Andy Griffin Show” and “Gomer Pyle: USMC” (Brumburgh, n.d.). As his television career seemed to end, he began to perform comedy and music. He began to perform at the Indianapolis 500 in 1972 singing, “Back Home Again in Indiana” until 2014 (Brumburgh, n.d.).
Nabors’ performances at the Indianapolis are available to view and listen to on YouTube: click on “Jim Nabors: 1972 Performance” and “Jim Nabors: 2014 Performance”.
8-track tapes belong in a museum. (2011, February 16). Retrieved February 1, 2017, from http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2011/02/17/133692586/8-track-tapes-belong-in-a-museum
Brumburgh, G. (n.d.). Jim Nabors: Biography. Retrieved February 1, 2017, from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001561/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
Moore, D. (2010, June 15). Collector’s corner: The history of the eight-track tape. Retrieved February 1, 2017, from http://www.goldminemag.com/collector-resources/collectors-corner-the-history-of-the-eight-track-tape
Morton, D. The last days of the 8-track tape. (1998). Retrieved February 1, 2017, from http://www.recording-history.org/HTML/8track6.php