Ruben Cherry's Record Shop
Mrs. Celia G. Camp
HOME OF THE BLUES RECORD COMPANY AND AFFILIATED PUBLISHING COMPANIES
Originally founded in 1960 by Ruben Cherry owner/operator of the Home Of The Blues Record Shop at 105-107 Beale Street (billed as ''The South's Largest Record Store'') in Memphis, the small regional label (and its affiliated publishing companies) were only active for a few years, but recorded many wonderful examples of post-Sun blues and rockabilly and pre-Stax and Hi soul.
With the financial backing of Cherry's aunt, Mrs. Celia G. Camp, who derived her wealth from the oil business, the companies began as an outgrowth of the Home of the Blues record shop at 107 Beale Street. Later, the record store moved around the corner to Main Street and continues to thrive. However, despite the continuing success of the store and the engagement of another Camp nephew Wolf Lebovitz, who diversified the label with affiliates such as 1st, Zab, Rufus and Six-O-Six Records, the label ceased operations by the end of 1962. Nevertheless, for a short time both before and after that, it did lease existing, as well as new productions to other labels.
Following Cherry's death and prior to her own, Mrs. Camp left the assets of the label to Lebovitz.
HOTB's early roster contained fine period original recordings by rhythm and blues vocal stylists Roy Brown, The 5 Royales., Larry Birdsong, Dave Dixon and Jimmy Dotson, in audition to a hit by Willie Cobb that it leased from a local rival. In addition, HOTB recorded a good deal of instrumental music by the likes of trumpeter Bowlegs Gabe. Topping the list of instrumentalists, however, are the initial recordings and productions by a future star of 1970s soul music, Willie Mitchell. It was while at HOTB that the trumpeter honed his skills to become the great band-leader and record producer of so many fine recordings to come from the Hi label, especially those by the now-notorious Reverend, Al Green.
Talent of varying stripes found its way to the HOTB label, where the down-home blues man Woodrow Adams also found release, but highly-revered Chicago guitarist Sammy Lawhorn did not. HOTB gave a chance to numerous local unknown and amateur vocalists (soloists and groups, both black and white), but, with the exception of James Austin (aka Charles James), none created much of a stir and many remained unreleased.
One fine white vocalist who did see release on the label was rockabilly star Billy Riley, but rockabilly legend, Harmonica Frank Floyd, was only among the possibilities for release when the label folded. (Frank's recordings may yet see the light of day, as the original session tapes were found intact when the label and its publishing affiliates were acquired by Delta Haze Corporation some years back).
Another couple of white artists, both vocalists/instrumentalists, were recorded at the end of HOTB's lifetime and did see release – one on Home of the Blues and the other on subsidiary 1st Records. They are Billy Adams and Bill Yates. Both are examples of the influence that black music had on young white singers and musicians in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
All told, the Home of the Blues label temporarily filled the void in the recording of Memphis blues, rhythm and blues and soul music until Stax and then Hi Records would come along and do it up brown...
Ruben Cherry at his Home Of The Blues Record Shop, 107 Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee >
RUBEN CHERRY – Owner of Ruben Cherry and his Home Of The Blues record shop at 105-107 Beale Street, billed as ''The South's Largest Record Store''. Cherry had bought the premises in the late 1940s after he came out of wartime military service. He had been born in Memphis on January 30, 1922 and his parents, Harry Cherry, a naturalized Russian, and Ida Goldstein, ran a grocery business, Rosen's Delicatessen at 606 South Lauderdale just south of Beale Street. In the family tradition, Ruben Cherry was a good but cautious businessman. He advertised his store as being '' on the street where the blues was born'' but he stocked the full range of music - pop, jazz, and country as well as blues - and he prided himself that he kept in stock one copy of every disc in print at any time.