- From the late 1950's to the early 1960's, Merl Olds, was choreographer and artist/repertoire man for Sets In Order Records, a subsidiary of Sets In Order Magazine. A prominent square dance caller and round dance cuer in the Los Angeles area, Merl along with his wife Deliah, began using talented Hollywood musicians to play square and round dance music for their newly formed company. In 1963, Hi Hat Dance Records premiered and while Merl no longer worked for SIO Records, he continued to do record reviews for SIO Magazine. Providing the new sound was Dick Cary, jazz trumpet and alto horn player, pianist, and arranger. Also playing was Joe Leahy, another jazz player who started his career with Les Brown and His Band Of Renown. Plus Jimmy Bryant, one of the most talented guitarists in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Many of the big name callers of the sixties enjoyed a long recording partnership with Hi Hat Records: Dick Houlton (CA), Red Bates (MA), Lee Schmidt (CA), Tommy Cavanagh (Great Britain), Dick Weaver (HI). Ernie Kinney would record 130 vocals in thirty-eight years with Hi Hat.
In 1976, Merl Olds split Hi Hat into a separate round dance label and square dance label, selling each to new producers, Pete Metzger and Ernie Kinney, respectively. Under new ownership, the Hi Hat Square Dance sound was guitarist Del Katcher, a protégé of Les Paul. Square dance hits during this time include, "Come To Me", "Fools Fall In Love", "10/20 Hoedown", "Green Grass Of Home", "Lady In The Blue Mercedes" and one of the biggest selling singing calls in history - "El Paso City". Joining the Hi Hat Records staff was Bronc Wise, Tom Perry, Mike Sikorsky, and Jerry Schatzer - a few of the most popular callers of the day.
The Hi Hat sound changed again in 1981, when Ken Carlton was enlisted as arranger/musician. The KC studio was the first to introduce electronic percussion to square dance music, where the rhythm was generated by a computer using recorded samples of live musicians. Within five years, all square dance record companies would be using sampled percussion.
In 1991, Ernie invited Buddy Weaver to join the Hi Hat Records staff. Hi Hat is the only square dance music company that had both father and son as staff artists, in this case separated by twenty five years. Under Ernie Kinney's supervision, Hi Hat Records added sister labels - Blue Ribbon Records in 1976, ELK Records in 1984, and DJ Records in 1993. The ELK label is the first "karaoke" record label with square dance callers doing the vocals on the flip side. ELK also produced cassette and CD releases featuring the Hi Hat Pioneers, a quartet of callers singing cowboy songs. The last members of the quartet are Ernie Kinney (leads), Tom Perry (baritone), Buddy Weaver (tenor), and Wayne McDonald (bass).
In 2004, Buddy Weaver, producer of Blue Star Music, acquired Hi Hat Records. Remaining autonomous, New Hi Hat Records debuted with a new staff of callers and new musical sound. Now, modern electronic arrangements done by Japanese caller, Hiroshi Yaoko are featured. New hits are made with "Glory Hallelujah", "You Are My Sunshine", "Ghost Riders Hoedown". New Hi Hat Records (along with Blue Star Records) are among the first square dance labels to offer vinyl and CD formats; with the close of the vinyl era, the label name graduated to - New Hi Hat Music.
In the fall of 2009, the First Japan Hi Hat Festival was held in Tokyo, featuring calling talent from the US, Canada, Sweden, and Japan. In December of 2011, the Second Hi Hat Festival (Laughlin River Romp) was held in Laughlin, Nevada commemorating Hi Hat Music's 50th anniversary.