NEWSPAPER / MAGAZINE
Celebrating 80 years in 2022, Cashbox is primarily a trade publication targeting the music industry at large. Each monthly issue includes music news, new music releases, radio airplay charts, special features, artist interviews, spotlights on industry leaders and companies, music history, latest trends and technology, and more.
Cashbox is published monthly, alternating between printed and online editions. (*Six issues in print, six issues published online).
Cashbox is a subsidiary of Wilds & Associates with offices located in Alabama and South Carolina.
Owners - Bruce Elrod, Chris Elrod, Randall Wilds
Chief Operating Officer - Randall Wilds
Administrative Assistant - Rachel Hodges
Managing Editor - John Lanier
Associate Managing Editor - Deborah Baliles
Associate Editor and Social Media Manager - Robin Tanner
News Editor (Website) - MaryAnne Wagoner
Art Director - Christine Scott
Marketing Consultant - Tommy Smith
Archivist - Randy Price
Deborah Baliles, Jackson McKee, Cory Parker, Jennifer Springs, Robin Tanner
LaToya Scott, Michael Stover, MaryAnne Wagoner, Tina Wakefield
CASHBOX/CASH BOX, the name in either form, will forever be recognized for its association with the music industry.
Celebrating its 80th Anniversary (1942-2022), the magazine CASH BOX, in its original title, was founded in 1942 by Bill Gersh whom had no knowledge of music. President, George Albert published the magazine as a printed trade publication of the vending/coin machine industry. The publication had everything to do with arcades, slots, and pinball games, but very little to do with music. The first issue rolled out in July, 1942. Copyrighted by Universal Copyright Convention, depending the issue, the magazine would have the following slogans printed at the bottom of each page: Please mention THE CASH BOX when answering ads - it proves you’re a real coin machine man!” Or, “It’s what’s in THE CASH BOX that counts.” Nevertheless, the magazine’s subject matter would soon begin its evolution into a music phenomenon.
From the early 50s forward, Cash Box, almost unconsciously, re-invented itself. Music charting would become a thing. According to World Radio History, the first chartings were based on jukeboxes, rather than radio play. The reasoning being that families could not afford home radios, while jukeboxes were prevalent in inner cities, rural and small-town communities, and ethnic gathering places. Radio airplay charting was included for the first time on September 23, 1978.
The 10 X 14 magazine was published for a very long time in black and white, with the occasional red headline. Not very often, but a rather significant piece would be highlighted with a light pink hue. The magazine, having no visible margins, was crammed with music charts by genre, ads (Rock-Ola/Wurlitzer jukeboxes were foremost, even making a cover), single releases, record reviews, radio stations, insider gossip, photographs, artists touring schedules, classifieds (with instructions to send your check air-mail), and record labels galore (RCA/Victor, MGM, Atlantic, Epic, Mercury, Decca, Capitol, Imperial). Almost every page had a record label insignia in a top or bottom corner. The magazine was a weekly publication, costing $15.00 per year, per subscription, mailed out with second class postage. The Cash Box Publishing Co, Inc. had offices in New York, Chicago, Hollywood, Nashville, Boston, and London. Cash Box, while one can speculate on the name, had a huge impact on the music worlds of Country, R&B, Rock, and Gospel.
The publication had its own HOT countdown logoed in flames, an impressive graphic feat back in the day. Over the next eighty years, the varying issues of the magazine would become collectibles, not a single magazine reselling today, for the once roughly $.29 issue price.
Former Cash Box president, George Albert published the first Cash Box magazine in July 1942.
(Regrettably, a photo of Cash Box founder Bill Gersh is not available.)
With the birth of Rock and Roll now in the mix, not even the highest-ranking recording artists or record producers could have predicted the famous names that would ink across the pages of the magazine. Whether it be the cover, a record release, a charting, or a Cash Box Award recipient, these names were the faces of Cash Box, and in these years - Eddy Arnold (1949), Mahala Jackson (1955), The Crew Cuts (1955), Ed Sullivan (1955), Little Richard (1956), Chuck Berry (1958), Johnny Horton (1959), Ray Price (1959), Sam Cooke (1960), Marty Robbins (1962), Ike and Tina Turner (1962), Patsy Cline (1962/1963), The Rolling Stones (1964), George Jones (1965), Johnny Cash (1968), Diana Ross and The Supremes (1968), Hank Williams (1969), The Beatles (1969), Marvin Gaye (1969), Paul Simon (1973), Alice Cooper (1973), Three Dog Night (1974), Tom Jones (1974), The Statler Brothers (1977), Stevie Wonder (1977/1987), Johnny Mathis (1978), and Aretha Franklin (1979). Then there was Elvis, who had huge records, with eighteen #1 singles. Elvis lived on the pages of Cash Box (1956-1977). Barely scratching the surface through the 70s, it is near impossible to have a conclusive listing, the artists are way too vast in numbers. This sampling is to merely reflect on the gamut of genres, the diversity of artists, and the notoriety of the magazine, in what the music industry would refer to as its heyday - the eras that would change the music world. George Albert and Cash Box have been thought to be the influential force in changing the name “race music” into the captivating Rhythm and Blues (R&B).
Having varying opinions, some believe that the 1970s was the superior decade, the best decade for music. However, another music shift was on the horizon ushering in Modern Rock and Golden Era Hip Hop. Country music, itself, was reimaging and creating a new silhouette.
In spite of all this, the 80s and 90s publications showed little signs of slowing down with artists such as these all over its pages: Dire Straits, Heart, Jann Browne, Aretha Franklin, Indecent, The Black Crows, Laura Branigan, Carly Simon, Billy Joel, Crystal Gayle, Larry Gatlin, Talking Heads, Deniece Williams, Shirley Caesar, K. T. Oslin, Ramones, Barry White, Horse Sense, Pink Floyd, Jim Croce, Menudo, Alabama, Lionel Richie, R.E.M., John Lennon, and on and on.
The magazine was no longer a US articles only publication, it was picking up music news from Canada, Great Britain, Belgium, Holland, Japan, Mexico, and other foreign countries. Cash Box offices were opening in Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, France, Australia, Argentina, and growing. Music news was literally encircling the globe. Never had there been such a platform (rivaled only to Billboard) to gather so much music artistry, long running, and under one ginormous venue.
A young Belmont University graduate, serving as intern for the Gospel Music Association, was recruited into his dream job to become the Nashville Charting Researcher for Cash Box. Kevin Hughes was recruited by Cash Box’s Director of Nashville Operations, Richard F. “Tony” D’Antonio. It wasn't long before Kevin discovered a shady operation behind the scenes - D’Antonio and his partner Chuck Dixon were padding chart numbers while pocketing the money. Kevin was very uncomfortable working in that situation.
On the night of March 9, 1989, Kevin and friend - Country singer, Sammy Sadler - were leaving a studio on music row. For fear of Kevin knowing and exposing his scandal, D’Antonio shot and murdered Kevin. He was only 23 years old. Sammy was severely injured. Thankfully, he survived but his music career took a hit. In what was first thought to be a robbery, this tragic event became known as “Murder on Music Row.” D'Antonio was arrested for first-degree murder in 2002. Sadler is still pursuing a music career and performing. He authored a book about that fateful night in March titled, “A Hit with a Bullet.”
Such a front-page news headline will often turn into a stigma for all associated. For Cash Box, that stigma resulted in a decline of the magazine, losing some of its credibility with artists, record labels, producers, and promoters. Quoted by a Music Row heir, “As did my dad, the music industry became disenchanted.” 1996 would see the last of Cash Box in its original form, the magazine ceased publication. Selected printed, original versions of the historic magazine are housed in the archives at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia.
Ten years after the dissolution, and with the consent of the now late President and Publisher, George Albert, Cash Box would be revived, reinvented again. It would be an online only publication, under its new owner, Bruce Elrod in Ridgeway, South Carolina. It would also have a slight name variation, simply CASHBOX. This online version would run from 2006 to 2018.
Merle Kilgore, Hank Williams, Jr., and Bruce Elrod were in conversation about the old Cash Box magazine. This prompted Bruce to do some research and immediately purchased a web domain name for CASHBOX. Sitting on it for a few years, the conversation would continue with Merle, who by this time had been diagnosed with cancer. Merle had mentioned to Bruce that it was doubtful that he would ever see the magazine redevelop.
Bruce Elrod, Owner
In 2006, Bruce revived Cashbox as an online only publication.
Still, Bruce had made the promise, and in keeping that promise, just one week before his friend passed, the first online Cash Box cover was designed. On July 4, 2006, the magazine went live. The cover was captured by Rebel’s Creek from Burnsville, North Carolina.
Initial investors jumping on board were Marv Rosenberg (The Safari’s), Michael Peace, Brandon Bailey, Chris Ballard, Aaron Everitt, Tommy James, Michael Kennedy, and Mike Duncan. In 2013, Bruce purchased Record World Magazine, with another blessing of the original owner’s daughter, intending it to be a sister magazine to Cashbox.
Tommy Smith of Canyon Creek Records would be the future introduction link between Bruce Elrod and Randall Wilds.
In 2013, Bruce founded the Cashbox Magazine Foundation for the Performing Arts ('Cashbox Foundation'). This foundation supports independent musicians and artists and partners with other non-profits, providing instruments, materials, and accommodating needs as they serve their communities through the arts.
The Cashbox Magazine Foundation for the Performing Arts is a 501(c)3, tax-exempt public charity.
The year 2018 would take the magazine somewhat back to its roots. In West Central Alabama, in the small town of Kennedy, Randall Wilds / Wilds and Associates would acquire the Cashbox printed version. The magazine would become a printed publication once again, printed bimonthly, under the proper title, Cashbox Newspaper/Magazine USA.
Taking on another printed publication would seem to come natural for Wilds, as he had already established (as co-founder with business partner and Christian recording artist, John Lanier) a successful Christian music publication, Christian Voice Magazine. The first issue premiered September 2006. Highlighting and covering Positive and Christian Country music, Wilds launched Cross Country USA Magazine in August of 2020 - in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr, James Payne was featured on that inaugural cover.
Randall Wilds, owner and Chief Operating Officer, Cashbox.
In late 2018, Wilds returned Cashbox to a printed edition.
Wilds and Associates are a conglomerate of companies specializing in Gospel and Country music promotions, events, and promotional products. Randall Wilds, an astute businessman has faithfully served the Gospel music industry/Christian marketplace for some thirty years.
Twenty-two years after the last printed edition, Wilds & Associates debuted the new Cashbox Magazine, featuring Country music’s Blake Shelton in November 2018. After a few printed issues, it became apparent that the publication was being highly received by music and entertainment industry leaders. Since 2020, the magazine continues to grow beyond what anyone could have imagined.
The newly branded Cashbox (US) features full-color, high-profile covers, artist interviews, charting, music industry news, new artist spotlights, and regular monthly columns. With almost every major music genre represented, the charting covers Americana, Black Gospel, Bluegrass, Bluegrass Gospel, Christian Country, Contemporary Christian, Independent Country, Mainstream Country, Pop / Rock, R & B / HipHop, and Southern Gospel.
The roster of management, associates, and staff for Cashbox are laden with talent, experience, knowledge, and a great appreciation for music. Having a mutual respect for what the magazine once was, they are dedicated to preserving its future. Those coming on board with the transition to print are Randall Wilds co-owner (Business Operations COO), Rachel Hodges (Administrative Assistant), John Lanier (Managing Editor), Deborah Baliles (Assistant Managing Editor), Robin Tanner (Associate Editor and Social Media Manager), MaryAnne Wagoner (News Editor - website), Tommy Smith (Marketing Consultant), and Christine Scott (Art Director). Wilds and Associates are the sole entity for publishing and distribution of the magazine. Wilds & Associates has just inked a distribution deal that will put Cashbox in newsstands everywhere.
Much like the original Cash Box, the running Cashbox is well on its way to being a staple for all music aficionados. Some of the most notable faces of music have already graced the magazine cover, for 2019 Alicia Keys, John Legend, for 2020 Lionel Richie, Dan + Shay & Justin Bieber, Loretta Lynn, and Rascal Flatts, for 2021 Charley Pride, Alan Jackson, Rhonda Vincent, Jonas Brothers, and Reba McEntire, for 2022 Adele, Tamela Mann, Twitty & Lynn, Kelly Lang, and the 80th Anniversary issue, the iconic Chubby Checker.
The digital edition is published online monthly and is free to view. The printed edition is published bi-monthly.