Meet Randy Thornton, Walt Disney Records’ Supervising Producer and Musical Historian

Annette Funicello’s The Doors connection, Walt Disney’s role in creating famed Sunset Sound Recorders and 15 year old Ron Howard’s role in “The Haunted Mansion” Record album released when the Disneyland attraction first opened are only a few among the many fascinating items gleaned from my interview with Randy Thornton, long-time Walt Disney Records Supervising Producer and Musical Historian.

In his nearly 29 years at Disney, Thornton has accumulated ten Gold Records, four Platinum Records, six Grammy nominations and one Grammy win. Yet the self-effacing Thornton never brought those to my attention. On-line research did.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that Disney Music Emporium advertises on AnalogPlanet. I found that interesting (I have no relationship to the site advertising, BTW), so I clicked on it to see what vinyl the company sells. Much of it is for kids, with picture discs and the like but as far as I’m concerned could there be a better way to introduce a very young person to vinyl than some of those picture discs and perhaps a black vinyl soundtrack or two and a Crosley turntable, which they also sell on the site?

I also noticed the Star Wars 40th Anniversary vinyl box set, which is a serious piece of vinyl restoration work that I asked Thornton to discuss.

That box was fully reviewed by Mike Mettler on sister publication Sound and Vision. Definitely worth a read.

Also, if you are a “Star Wars” fan check out Chris Malone’s Recording The Star Wars Saga, a site Thornton turned me on to.

I’m glad I took the time to contact and interview Mr. Thornton, especially since I once worked at Disney where I appropriately had an office on Dopey Drive in the original animation building. I had Roy Disney’s old office. Now that was an honor I never took lightly. Before adding the interview links, I have to add a short story: when I worked on the lot I noticed a security guard who looked just like Professor Irwin Cory the double-talk comedian I’m sure some of you know, and if you don’t I bet there are clips you can find on YouTube. The closer I got to the guy the more he looked like Irwin Corey. So one day I said to him “Has anyone ever told you that you look just like the comedian Professor Irwin Corey? He responded, “Irwin is my twin brother!”

I’ve broken down the 45 minute interview into three segments. Also I’ve tried to deal with the distortion found on previous phone-recorded interviews and this one is much better. Thornton’s voice is without distortion, mine needs further attenuation.

Randy’s background and Disneyland Records’ early days

Digital re-recording of “Fantasia” and The Star Wars 40th anniversary box set

The Vinyl Vault, Annette & The Doors, Bruce Botnick and Salvatore “Tutti” Camarata

xtcfan80's picture

Very cool interview Michael... Love the Star Wars info. Big fan of John Williams... E.T. ...Catch Me If You Can... Close Encounters..... Have a snippet on cd of his score to Hitchcock’s last film Family Plot....a real winner....

samndamn's picture

I really need the original Alice in Wonderland Soundtrack produced by Analog Productions!!