The Love Is a Drag LP Cover | Vintage Vinyl | tc287
The Guardian notes that the 1962 gay LP “Love is a drag”, which has been a collector’s item for many years, has been re-released.
Archivist JD Doyle managed to get in contact with the original record producer, who, like the musicians and singer on the LP, were not credited when it was released in 1962, for obvious reasons.
In 2012 the album’s producer, Murray Garrett, emailed him after discovering that Doyle had written about the music on his website.
The story begins in the 1920s. As far back at the 1920s, blues singers such as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith had been singing about gay characters, though they were loathe to directly express their own desires. In 1946 Garrett was a celebrity photographer for Life magazine and was taken by a friend to a bar in Greenwich Village. A handsome young man came out on the club’s stage and started to sing standards normally performed by a woman to a man. Garrett was confused until his friend informed him that they were in a gay bar. Garrett later told Doyle he was so impressed by the quality of the music that the night stayed in his mind “for years and years”.
In the early 60s a friend of Garrett’s was starting a record company in Hollywood and asked him if he had any ideas for projects that would stand out. Garrett thought a man singing love songs to another man would more than fit the bill. Garrett asked his photography partner, Gene Howard, who had earlier performed with Stan Kenton’s band, to sing on the album. The singer told him he had two daughters and a wife to consider, not to mention a career. According to Doyle, Howard’s wife asked just one question about the project: “Is it going to be done with dignity?”
The album sold by word of mouth, mainly in the Hollywood community Garrett and Howard knew well. Gay waiters and car hops started buying copies, up to six at a time. Frank Sinatra ordered a dozen copies. Garrett gave a copy to Bob Hope and Liberace also acquired a copy.
Over the years, the album became a cult item, selling for up to $200.
A number of LP recordings made in Britain for the UK gay market appeared in the 1950s and 1960s, and some of the artistes involved have been documented in Gay History.