Mark II – 2014

They wrote and recorded “Night Theme,” the only international hit by a Rhode Island record company

Winston Cogswell, of Warwick, was literally present at the birth of Rock ’n’ Roll after moving to Memphis, Tennessee in 1954. Working at Sam Phillips’ Sun Records as a “jack of all trades” – guitarist, pianist, songwriter, arranger, producer and recording artist under the name Wayne Powers – he collaborated with some of the most important figures in music history including Ray Harris, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison. He moved on to RCA Victor in Nashville as a songwriter penning hits for Chet Atkins and Skeeter Davis.

Deciding he could pursue his writing career without being on the scene, he returned to Warwick in 1960 and began collaborating with pianist/composer Ray Peterson. The duo formed Wye Records with a third partner, engineer Ken Dutton, and their 1960 debut release as The Mark II, “Night Theme,” became a national hit.

The song was covered dozens of times around the world including versions by Al Hirt, The Chantays, and Lawrence Welk. Wye became the launching pad for some of Rhode Island’s finest musicians and remains the most successful label in state history. More than 50 years later, Cogswell and Peterson are still collaborating at the time of their induction into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in 2014.

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