- Ace Records, 241 Nort Farish Street, Jackson, Mississippi -
- American Sound, 827 Danny Thomas Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee -
- Ara Records, 1692 Madison Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee -
- Blake Records, 498 Lundee Street, Memphis, Tennessee -
- Chess Records, 2120 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
- Cover Records, Stratton-Warren Building, 110 East Calhoun, Memphis, Tennessee -
- Crystal/Pen/XL Records, 639 Madison Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee -
- Duke Records, 2809 Erastus Street, Houston, Texas -
- Fernwood Records, 152 Fernwood Drive, Memphis, Tennessee -
- F & L Records, Memphis, Tennessee -
- Fortune Records, 3942 Third Street, Detroit, Michigan -
- Hi Records, 1329 South Lauderdale Street, Memphis, Tennessee -
- Holiday Inn Records, 639 Madison Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee -
- Home Of The Blues, 105- 107 Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee -
- Judd Records, NRC Studios, 965 Fowler Street, Atlanta, Georgia -
- Kay Records, WHBQ, 279 North Main Street, Memphis, Tennessee -
- King Records, 1540 Brewster Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio -
- Meteor Records, 1794 Chelsea Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee -

ACE RECORDS - Ace Records, Jackson, Mississippi, founded in 1955 by Johnny Vincent (1925 to 2000), was the most successful Mississippi-based label of the 1950s and 1960s.

Ace’s extensive catalog of blues, rhythm and blues, pop, rock, and soul included records by Mississippi blues artists Arthur Crudup, Sam Myers, King Edward, Pat Brown, and Willie Clayton, as well as hit singles by Louisiana singers Jimmy Clanton, Frankie Ford, Huey ''Piano'' Smith, and Earl King. Ace was based for many years on this block of West Capitol Street in Jackson.

JOHNNY VINCENT - born John Vincent Imbraguglio (later modified to Imbragulio) on October 3, 1925, became fascinated with the blues via the jukebox at his parents' restaurant in Laurel. After serving in the Merchant Marine he started his own jukebox business in Laurel, and in 1947 became a sales representative for a New Orleans record distributor.

In the late 1940s Vincent purchased Griffin Distributing Company in Jackson and operated both Griffin and a retail business, the Record Shop, at 241 North Farish Street.

Vincent started the Champion label in the early 1950s, issuing blues singles by Arthur ''Big Boy'' Crudup of Forest and Jackson musicians Joe Dyson and Bernard ''Bunny'' Williams. In 1953 Vincent signed on as a talent scout for Los Angeles-based Specialty Records.

His most notable production for Specialty was ''The Things I Used to Do'', recorded in New Orleans by Guitar Slim, aka Eddie Jones, a native of Greenwood.

Featuring Ray Charles on piano, the song was one of the biggest rhythm and blues hits of the 1950s. During his tenure with Specialty Vincent also supervised sessions by John Lee Hooker, Kenzie Moore, and others.

In 1955 Vincent started Ace, named after the Ace Combs brand. The label's first hit, ''Those Lonely, Lonely Nights'' by New Orleans bluesman Earl King, was recorded at Trumpet Records' Diamond Recording Studio at 309 North Farish Street. Ace became the first important regional label for New Orleans music, scoring national hits by Louisiana artists Huey Smith and the Clowns, ''Don't You Just Know It'', Frankie Ford's ''Sea Cruise'', and Jimmy Clanton, a ''teen idol'' whose ''Just A Dream'' topped the rhythm and blues charts in 1960.

Among the Ace artists who recorded either at the New Orleans studio of Cosimo Matassa or here in Jackson in the 1950s and 1960s were Sam Myers, Joe Tex, Bobby Marchan, James Booker, Charles Brown, Joe Dyson, Lee Dorsey, Rufus McKay, Scotty McKay, Big Boy Myles, Tim Whitsett, and Mac Rebennack, later known as ''Dr. John''.

In 1962 Vincent signed a potentially lucrative distribution deal with Vee-Jay Records of Chicago, but that label's bankruptcy in 1966 was catastrophic for Ace. In the 1970s Vincent revamped Ace, making new recordings as well as repackaging old hits, but had only limited success. He turned to various other enterprises, including a restaurant, but returned to the record business with full force in the early 1990s, as he reoriented Ace to the contemporary soul-blues market with a roster that included Mississippi-born singers Cicero Blake, Robert ''The Duke'' Tillman, J. T. Watkins, Pat Brown, and Willie Clayton.

The latter pair had success with the duet ''Equal Opportunity''. In 1997 Vincent sold Ace to the British firm Music Collection International but started a new label, Avanti, and continued to record soul-blues artists. Vincent died on February 4, 2000 on heart failure.


AMERICAN SOUND STUDIO - Located at 827 Danny Thomas Street, at Chelsea Street, in the late 1960s, American Sound was one of the top studios in the country. Founded by Seymour Rosenberg, Charlie Rich's manager, and by Chips Moman, who had built the Stax studio, American got some of the South's best musicians, including Bobby Womack, to work here as session players.

From November 1967 to the end of 1970, it placed 120 songs in the Top 20. Hits included Sandy Posey's "Born A Woman", James and Bobby Purify's "Shake A Tail Feather", and Dusty Springfield's "Dusty In Memphis" album.

American Sound first found success with hit songs by local teenage bands as the Gentrys and the Box Tops "The Letter", the biggest-selling single of 1976 and 1968, Moman's production technique was simply to tell 16-year-old singer Alex Chilton to say "aeroplane", not "airplane".

Elvis Presley came here in January and February 1969, after a 12-year absence from Memphis studios, to record such career-reviving material as "Kentucky Rain", "In The Ghetto", and "Suspicious Minds", America Sounds biggest million-selling number one of alltime. During these sessions Chips Moman complained that Elvis was singing terribly. "When I told him he was off pitch", he told Mojo's Barney Hoskyns, "his whole entourage would nearly faint". Moman, who had the word Memphis tattooed on his right arm, in 1972 angry that he did not receive the recognition in Memphis he felt he deserved, he left, moving first to Atlanta and then to Nashville to produce Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings.

Today, nearly, all the studio musicians and songwriters who worked with Chips Moman enjoys successful careers in Nashville. The studio itself sat unused for many years, a symbol of the declining fortunes of the Memphis music business. For a time, a local promoter operated tours of the building for Elvis fans, but he could not sustain that enterprise. The building was demolished in 1987 to make away for an auto parts store.

LINCOLN WAYNE ''CHIPS'' MOMAN – born on June 12, 1937 in La Grange, Georgia, United States, is an American record producer, guitarist, and songwriter. As a record producer, Moman is known for recording Elvis Presley, Bobby Womack, Carla Thomas, and Merrilee Rush, as well as guiding the career of the Box Tops in Memphis, Tennessee during the 1960s. As a songwriter, he is responsible for standards associated with Aretha Franklin, James Carr, Waylon Jennings, and B. J. Thomas. He has been a session guitarist for Franklin and other musicians.

After moving to Memphis, Tennessee as a teenager, Moman played in the road bands of Johnny Burnette and Gene Vincent. Settling in Los Angeles, California, he played guitar on sessions recorded at the Gold Star Studios. 

Back in Memphis, he began an association with Satellite Records (later Stax Records), producing their first hit single, Carla Thomas's 1960 "Gee Whiz''. He also produced the first single for the Stax subsidiary label Volt, "Burnt Biscuits" b/w "Raw Dough'', by the Triumphs, whose members included future Al Green and drummer Howard Grimes. 

Leaving Stax Records in 1964 after a monetary dispute with label founder Jim Stewart, he began operating his own Memphis recording studio, the American Sound Studio. There he, along with guitarists Reggie Young and Bobby Womack, bassist Tommy Cogbill, pianist and organist Bobby Emmons, and drummer Gene Chrisman, recorded the Box Tops, Bobby Womack, Merrilee Rush, Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere and the Raiders), Sandy Posey (notably "Single Girl"), Joe Tex, Wilson Pickett, Herbie Mann and Petula Clark. 

Although Dusty Springfield's 1969 Dusty in Memphis album was recorded at American Sound Studios, Moman did not produce the album (that credit went jointly to Tom Dowd, Jerry Wexler and Arif Mardin). During this time, Moman had a record label American Group Records (AGP), distributed by Amy-Mala-Bell. 

Moman produced Elvis Presley's 1969 albums, ''From Elvis In Memphis'' and ''Back In Memphis'' which included the hit songs "In The Ghetto". "Suspicious Minds" and "Kentucky Rain". 

During this period Moman co-wrote "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" (recorded by Aretha Franklin) with fellow Memphis producer and songwriter Dan Penn; and "The Dark End of the Street", which became the best-known song of the soul singer James Carr. During the late 1960s and early 1970s Moman's studio experienced an unprecedented run of hits in the music industry, producing more than 120 charting singles by pop, soul, and country artists. On several occasions during this period, more than 20 of Billboard's Hot 100 songs were produced at American Sound. 

Moman married fellow songwriter Toni Wine in the early 1970s. He left Memphis in 1971 and briefly operated a studio in Atlanta. He then moved to Nashville, where he produced and cowrote a hit for B. J. Thomas, "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" (1975). This effort earned Moman a Grammy Award. He also co-wrote "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)" for Waylon Jennings, and produced albums by Willie Nelson, Gary Stewart, Tammy Wynette, Ronnie Milsap and Petula Clark. After a brief return to Memphis in the mid 1980s, during which time his attempt to open a new studio floundered, he settled in LaGrange, Georgia, where he operated another recording studio. Chips Moman was maybe the best producer Elvis Presley ever had. 

In poor health for much of the last decade, Moman would make occasional public appearances, performing with the American Boys or at Elvis-related events. 

In the summer of 2014, Moman and company were finally given some long overdue recognition in the Bluff City. A Shelby County historical marker was placed on the site where American Studios once stood. Moman was also inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame that year. 

The 79-year-old Lincoln Wayne ''Chips'' Moman died on Monday, June 13, 2016, the day after his 79th birthday, in a hospice in his hometown of LaGrance, Georgia. He had been suffering from a disease of the lungs.


ARA RECORDS - Roland Janes opened Sonic Sound Studio on 1692 Madison Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee in 1962. He established a series of indie labels (ARA, Renay, Rolando) and scored hits with the wild instrumental "Scratchy" by the studio's teenage house guitarist, Travis Wammack, and Matt Lucas' frantic reworking of Hank Snow's "I'm Moving On''. Later releases on Ara list Nashville as a location.

Roland Janes' success was short-lived, however. In November 1963, the Beatles hit the United States charts, and for the next year no one could get an American record played on the radio. Janes soon shifted his focus completely to the studio. In a sense, Sonic became a spiritual extension of the old Sun. Charging just $10 an hour and $3 for tape, Janes had an open-door policy, willing to take a chance on anyone with a spark of talent or a good idea.

Over the next decade, Janes and his studio would help write the history of Memphis garage rock: Practically every teen band of the time was baptized into the recording world at Sonic. Many of them, like the Castels, Jades and Mudmen, conceived their classic works there as well. Local groups would regularly record tracks with Janes, then mime to them on George Klein's WHBQ "Talent Party" TV show. As future Box Tops guitarist Gary Talley would note, for a generation of kids in the 1960s, recording with Janes was "a rite of passage''.

ROLAND JANES - is not exactly a household name. In fact, only those who are deeply involved with   rockabilly music will know who he is. To the latter, though, his is a name revered. It was Janes, along with   Scotty Moore and Carl Perkins, who developed the rockabilly guitar style at Sun Records. You'll hear far more from people who did far less than Roland Janes. He was never one for banging his own   drum, and his accomplishment as a studio musician, producer, artist and repertoire man have tended to be   overlooked.
He was the guitarist whose solos on ''Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On'', ''High School  Confidential'', and countless other Sun records are engrained in our collective memory. His work ran the   gamut from the tasteful and economical little solo on the bridge of ''Raunchy'' to the deliriously over-the-top   intro to Billy Riley's ''Flying Saucers Rock And Roll''. And don't forget that he played on and produced   Harold Dorman's ''Mountain Of Love'', and issued it on a label he co-owned. As a producer, he recorded  Travis Wammack's ''Scratchy'', Mat Lucas's ''I'm Movin' On'', and Jerry Jaye's ''My Girl Josephine'', all of   them among the best records to come out of Memphis in the early to mid 1960s.
Roland Janes was born on August 20, 1933, the second youngest in a family of seven in 1933 in a river town   in North-East Arkansas called Brookings. It had once been an important lumber community and Roland's   father, besides playing guitar, had earned a living as a lumberjack. By the time Janes was born, though, the   lumber industry had died and his father had quit playing music. He did have an older brother who apparently   played piano, organ and guitar and several of his cousins Loyd and Lonnie Snider, working in a semi-pro   band in Corning, Arkansas, played fiddle, guitar, steel guitar, etc.. In fact, of the extended family, Janes was   the last one to really start playing.
Before Roland was ten, his parents had divorced. His mother moved to St. Louis and slowly collected each   of her children. Roland moved in with her in 1942. For a while, he shuttled hack and forth between his two   parents, and it was in 1945 or 1946, during one of the times that he had moved back to Arkansas to live with   his father, that he first started playing. His first instrument was a mandolin. The music that he and his cousins   made was stone country. On the radio, at that time he says, there was nothing available but big band or country music.
"So I was not influenced at all by black music because I wasn't exposed to it. I came in contact with black   music only when I came to Memphis and I'd already developed my style. I picked up on their style when the   need arose. I could play blues. In other words, I m very perceptive, not bragging, but I'm very perceptive in   that I can pick up on different styles very easily. But, I wasn't influenced by it, I was influenced by country   and pop. In St. Louis I listened to people like Patty Page, Joni James and Les Paul. My father, he was a  Pentecostal minister, so they had music in the church at that time. That was probably the basis, That's the   basis of most country and rockabilly; the church''.
Janes eventually moved to Memphis in 1953. Once there, he went directly into the Marine Corps. "When I   came here, it was during the Korean conflict and I enlisted in the service because I was unemployed. I would   probably have been drafted anyway because they were drafting at that time. So, I enlisted''. He'd moved to   Memphis shortly before he entered the service and returned there after his discharge in 1956, Going to   school under the GI Bill, he worked briefly as a laundryman and even ore briefly in a paint factory before  turning to music.
Shortly after returning to Memphis, Roland saw an ad placed the local newspaper by Doc McQueen, a   pianist who ran a small demo studio from his home. McQueen also led a band at the Hideaway Club, and   he'd given a break to Johnny Burnette and The Rock And Roll Trio, who'd just gone to New York and called   him en route to say they wouldn't be in that night or ever again. McQueen was looking for a guitarist, and   Roland got the job. Through McQueen, Roland met steel guitarist Kenneth Herman who introduced Janes to Jack Clement, who was involved with Slim Wallace in trying to launch a local record label. Wallace had built   a studio in his garage on Fernwood Street and their company was to be called Fernwood Records. Their first   artist was to be Billy Riley, who was also from northeast Arkansas. Riley was working up some songs for   the first Fernwood single, and Clement took them to Sam Phillips at Sun mastering. Phillips liked what he   heard and Riley's first effort led to an engineering job at Sun for Clement and a contract for Riley. Soon,   Riley's group earned a reputation as one of the hottest working band in the mid-South, and played on   countless Sun sessions.
Between 1956 and 1963, Janes was one of the anchors of the 'house band' at Sun Records. In those seven   years, he played on the majority of Jerry Lee Lewis' one hundred and fifty plus Sun recordings, was a   founding member of Billy Lee Riley's Little Green Men, and hacked up a plethora of lesser Sun artists from   Charlie Rich, Sonny Burgess and Barbara Pittman to such unknowns as the Memphis Bells, Jeanne Newman   and Tony Rossini (he played a session behind the latter in June of 1962 which included Scotty Moore,  Booker T. Jones, Al Jackson and Steve Cropper on bass).
Roland Janes was also the resident guitarist at OJ Records, and can be heard beneath the omnipresent organ   on OJ's only hit, Brother Dave Gardner's ''White Silver Sands''. In 1957, he quit Riley to work on the road   with Jerry Lee Lewis. He and Jerry roomed together, and he insists that in those early days it was Jerry's bass   player/father-in-law, J.W. Brown, and his road drummer, Russ Smith, who were the hellraisers. Falling with   out Jerry Lee after a few months, Roland worked a short spell with Bill Justis, then riding the crest of the   wave that began and ended with ''Raunchy'', before returning to work with Jerry Lee shortly before the illfated   tour of England in May 1958. They worked together until 1959 when Roland returned to Riley's group.   By that point he had married and was beginning to question whether he wanted to spend the rest of his days   working the road and making forty bucks or less on sessions that led to million-selling records. He and Riley  came up with an idea that they would become moguls.
''When Sam Phillips put in the new studio on Madison Avenue'', said Roland, ''Bill and I went to Sam and   asked him to let us retain the old studio and record there with the product going to Sun, but we never actually   resolved the question and just drifted into doing our own thing. Rita Records was a co-op deal, Bill and I   played on everything, which naturally eliminated having to pay a couple of musicians, and we used our old   buddies Martin Willis and J.M. Van Eaton. Jimmy Wilson had left the scene (he was working in California  with Johnny cash and others) so we used Tommy Bennett and Larry Muhoberac on piano. We came up with a   partner, Ira Lyn Caughan, who had a little money. He was an accountant, and we named the label after his   daughter. We were searching for a name, and couldn't come up with anything we liked. Mr. Vaughan had a   picture of his daughter on his desk, and she was a very pretty young lady. I said, 'What's your daughter's   name'? He said, 'Rita', and I said, 'Let's call it Rita Records'. Mr. Vaughan did all the paperwork, and Bill and   I took care of production and getting records to distributors. Riley was a tremendous salesman. He could go   in, talk someone into something, and probably talk them out of it before he left. He was a much better   salesman than me, But I probably had a better business head. We worked out of our homes, but the company   address was Mr. Vaughan's business''.
Even before Rita Records started, Roland Janes and Billy Riley had made several tentative gestures in the   same direction. They leased an instrumental version of ''Fireball Mail'' to Jaro/Top Rank via Bill Justis. It had   been recorded under a pseudonym, The Spitfires, to sidestep Riley's contractual obligation to Sun. ''We   borrowed from Duane Eddy and the Champs'', said Roland, ''combined the two, and came up with a   tremendous flop''. Before that, Roland had cut an instrumental single that coupled ''Patriotic Guitar'' with the   broody and menacing ''Guitarville''. The single was conceived at Sun when Roland was working with Jerry   Lee Lewis. Jud Phillips, who had resurfaced to take over Jerry Lee's management after the fiasco in England,   started Judd Records after falling out with his brother, and Roland's record came out on Judd. There was  some ill feeling between Sam and Roland as a result because it had been cut at Sun, but the record wasn't big   enough to cause lasting friction. It showed up on some local charts and bubbled under the Hot 100 but failed   to break out.
Rita Records was launched in September 1959. Roland Janes and Billy Riley released their own records   together with singles by J.M. Van Eaton and Martin Willis. Riley doubled as a blues singer named Lightnin'   Leon. The first and only hit on the label came in 1960 with Harold Dorman's ''Mountain Of Love''. Roland   had played on Dorman's 1957 Sun session, and saw more promise than is evident in those very halting   demos. ''I knew Harold was a great songwriter'', he said, ''and I couldn't see why someone didn't pick up on  him''. They recorded ''Mountain Of Love'' at Hi Records with Jack Clement behind the board. The record   climbed the charts, eventually peaking at number 21 on the Hot 100, but things soon started to go wrong.   There were disputes between Rita Records and its distribution partner, Bill Lowery. Riley sold his share in  the label just as ''Mountain Of Love'' was breaking, and the label folded soon after the follow up, ''Moved to   Kansas City'', stiffed. Roland had to lay low for a while, and moved back to St. Louis.
Returning to Memphis, in 1961-1962, Janes opened his own Sonic Studios on Madison Avenue. As well, he   was the sole owner, part owner and or session player for a host of small independent Memphis labels   throughout the 1960's and early 1970's. ''I leased the building, had it partially completed and then I ran out of   funds'', he said. ''It just sat there a good while before I got together enough money to put in the rest of the   equipment. I looked at some other studios and saw what they were supposed to look like and how the   technical end was handled. We had a big room, 30 x 60 feet, with a soft metal ceiling and we hung burlap   bags up there to trap the bass sound. We got a good clear sound out of that studio after some   experimentation''. Roland's ideas on production were based on what he had learned from Sam Phillips. ''Sam   taught me not to hold back. Just do it and have a good time doing it. Don't get hung up on little minor   mistakes. If it feels good, that will come through on the tape''.
For Roland, owning a studio a backward step in terms of recording himself: ''Every musician wants his own   studio and it's the worst thing that can happen to you. You think you can finally please yourself but you end   up trying to please everyone else just to keep the place afloat. We also thought of ourselves as background   musicians and never thought a lot about being featured artists. Even so, we always intended to record more   but always put it of''.
Three hits came out of Sonic: Matt Lucas's ''I'm Movin' On'', leased to Smash/Mercury, Travis Wammack's   ''Scratchy'', released on ARA and distributed through Atlantic, and Jerry Jaye's delightfully retro ''My Girl  Josephine'' on Hi Records. ''I remembered Travis from when he was a little kid'', said Roland. ''and then, after   I started the studio, several people told me that Travis was real good on electric guitar now. He had been   playing acoustic and singing back when I first remember him. He was working with a friend of mine,  Prentiss McPhail, and Prentiss brought him into the studio''. Wammack remembers hitting some hot licks for   Roland. ''Later on, Roland even gave me the keys to the studio so I could go and rehearse'', he said. ''He gave   me a break and I couldn't believe it because he was the top picker around''. ''Travis was so good'', said   Roland, ''that he would become impatient with the other musicians. He would play part and theirs too.  Sometimes he'd sound like a lead guitar, rhythm guitar and horn section – all at the same time. I told him to slow down or I'd have to get out my guitar and cut him''. Roland had just leased some cuts by Narvel Felts to   Chet Atkins at RCA, and he sent ''Scratchy'' to Chet who sent back a note saying, ''This scares me. I pass''.   Eventually, Roland issued the single on ARA, a label he -co-owned with Wayne Todd. Atlantic Records   acquired the distribution, and it eventually reached number 80 on the Hot 100, but stunned a generation of   guitarists with its new possibilities. The biggest hit to come out of Sonic was Jerry Jay's ''My Girl Josephine''.   It was a custom session for which Roland received $13.00, and his principal contribution was to persuade   Jaye not to overdub horns and a chorus. The record first appeared on Jaye's own Connie Records before Joe   Cuoghi picked it up for Hi Records in February 1967 after it got heavy play on WMPS. Nationally it reached   number 29. At the very least, Jerry Jaye gets in the history books for cutting the last hit that cost less than   twenty bucks.
Sonic operated during a transitional period in Memphis music. ''We were coming out of the rockabilly thing   into something with a heavier beat and in some ways more musically advanced'', said Roland. ''The music we   cut was real transition music. It had a little rockabilly, a little soul and so on''. For troublesome customers,   Roland had a knob on the console that said ''Control All''. He'd invite the client to adjust it while he ran the   tape. They'd play with it until they were satisfied, and had no idea that it wasn't wired to anything.
After the closing of Sonic in 1974, Roland Janes, for the most part, got out of the record business for a   couple of years, Roland was to return in 1977 as a producer and engineer at the Sounds of Memphis   Recording Studio and, in 1982, at the Phillips Recording Studio on Madison Avenue. In between, he worked   as an instructor of recording techniques at a predominantly black vocational school in South Memphis. At   Phillips, he engineered Charlie Feathers' Elektra album and Charlie Rich's last album for Sire Records. With  his eightieth birthday on the horizon, he still administers the old Sun publishing catalog, Hi-Lo and Knox   Music, and engineering sessions at Phillips Recording. Artists including Phil Collins and Bob Dylan, will   come to Phillips Recording simply no one in Memphis who knows more about how to make a record.
Roland Janes had been way overweight for years, and his knees troubled him, but he'd spiffed himself up  with some hair color and new glasses. In September 2013, Janes had a heart attack, and went swiftly  downhill from there. He went into the hospital on October 3, and on October 17, Knox Phillips say that Roland's wife, Betty Janes and the kids had opted to remove life-support after a scan revealed serious brain  damage from a stroke. Roland Janes died the following day, a couple of months past his eightieth birthday.  His family was with him, and Jimmy M. Van Eaton had dropped by the hospital to check on Roland, only to  be present at the moment of his passing.
The funeral was on October 22, 2013. A slideshow showed Roland at different stages of his life and career.  Among the shots was his Bear Family LP, Guitarville, the only album ever released under Roland Janes' own  name.

BLAKE RECORDS - was a label out of Memphis, Tennessee, and probably one of the city's longest running. Owned by John Cook, it was active at least in the 1960s and early 1970s. Billboard called Blake Records in its November 18, 1972, issue "one of the mainstays in country in Memphis''. Cook also owned John Cook Publishing as well as another label in Memphis, Marble Hill Records. He mostly released country, bluegrass, and gospel songs and also did some singing himself with Margie Cook, either his wife or another female relative. They also released some gospel sides on Blake Record. The labels first showed at 498 Lundee Street in Memphis as address but the label moved sometimes between Blake 2-213 and Blake 2-217 to 3291 Park Avenue.

The earliest known release on Blake was by Roland Eaton, a country singer from Arkansas. Born in 1935 in Ravenden, Northeast Arkansas, he was the emcee of the Mid-South Jamboree in the 1960s, appeared with Gene Williams' Country Junction show in 1968 and also had his own show on KAIT in the late 1960s. He recorded one single for Blake, "Married In Church" b/w "My Baby Walks All Over Me" (Blake 2-202). He would go on to record for Capitol 1968-1971 but later quit the music business.

During the next years, at least 119 records were issued, the last known being "Yesterdays, Darling, Are Gone" b/w "One You Left So Blue" by Paulette Cruzon (Blake 2-319). There are no reliable sources for Blake and Marble Hill singles such as Billboard reviews or pressing plant matrix numbers to estimate release dates. Though, the most records were manufactured by Plastic Products in Memphis. The last documented activity of Blake was the above mentioned short comment in the Billboard 1972 issue.


CHESS RECORDS - Chicago rhythm and blues record company founded in 1947 by Polish immigrant brothers Leonard and Phil Chess who owned a local nightclub. It was located at 2120 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois and called Aristocrat. The brothers soon began producing records to appeal to the increasing number of black Southerners who were moving north, particularly from the Mississippi Delta. In 1950 the label renamed Chess, where an impressive roster of blues artists - Howlin' Wolf, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker - began to record. Their subsidiary label, Checker Records, recorded Bo Didley, Lowell Fulsom.

Chess also served the growing market for rock and roll with doowop records like the Moonglows' "Sincerely" and with such hard rockers as Dale Hawkins' "Suzy Q", one of the first rock records with a 'modern' electric-guitar sound, courtesy of James Burton. Sam Phillips recorded many blues artists at Sun Records, among them Rufus Thomas, Howlin' Wolf, and Ike Turner, selling the tapes to the Chess label, which distributed the songs.

At one time Sam Phillips attempted to sell to Chess his entire catalog of Sun artists, including Elvis Presley, but the Chess brothers turned him down. Chess Records was located directly across the street from another successful rhythm and blues label, Vee Jay Records (the second label that released the Beatles in the United States).

Chuck Berry, early rock and roll's most prolific songwriter, enlisted many of Chess' finest blues musicians to back him on what is still one of rock's most covered back catalogs, including "Roll Over Beethoven", "Rock And Roll Music", "Sweet Little Sixteen", "The Promised Land", and "Johnny B. Goode". Another great success came from Bo Diddley, whose namesake single introduced his much-copied shuffle rhythm.

In the mid-1960s, Chess went to pieces, weakened by Chuck Berry's imprisonments and unable to come to grips with soul. The label moved out of the Michigan Avenue studios in 1967, folding when Leanard Chess died in 1975, shortly being bought out by tape manufacturer GTR, which got rid of the blues catalog, deeming it passe.

In early 1994, the Blues Heaven Foundation, founded by Willie Dixon, who wrote blues songs like "Spoonful" and "Back Door Man", used its fund and a big donation from John Mellencamp to purchase the building and open offices inside. The foundation hopes to get several projects going; a royalty-recovery program for artists who wrote big hits but didn't get the cash they were entitled to; an educational program for schools; and a small blues and rhythm and blues museum.

LEONARD CHESS – Leonard Chess born on March 12, 1917 was a record company executive and the founder of Chess Records. He was influential in the development of electric blues. He was was born as Lejzor Czyz in a Jewish community in Motal, Poland (but now within Belarus).

He and his brother Fiszel, sister Malka and mother followed their father to Chicago in 1928. The family name was changed to Chess, with Lejzor becoming Leonard and Fiszel becoming Philip.

Leonard and his brother Phil became involved in the black nightclub scene on the South Side of Chicago in 1946, when they took over the Macomba Lounge. In 1947, Leonard became associated with Aristocrat Records, increasing his share in the company over time; eventually he and Phil would acquire complete control. The Chess brothers moved the company away from black pop and jazz and other genres into down home blues music with artists such as Muddy Waters.

In 1950, the Chess brothers renamed the company Chess Records. "My Foolish Heart" (Gene Ammons), "Rollin' Stone" (Muddy Waters) and "That's All Right" (Jimmy Rogers) were among the first releases on the new label. Leonard Chess played bass drum on one of Muddy Waters' sessions in 1951.

Chess contacted Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records to help find and record new artists in the South. Phillips supplied Chess with recordings by Howlin' Wolf, Rufus Thomas and Doctor Ross among others. Of these, Howlin' Wolf especially became very popular, and Chess Records had to fight over him with other companies which had also been supplied with Wolf recordings by Phillips. In time, other important artists joined up, including Bo Diddley and Sonny Boy Williamson, while Willie Dixon and Robert Lockwood Jr. took on a significant role behind the scenes.

In the 1950s, Chess Records' commercial success grew with artists such as Little Walter, The Moonglows, The Flamingos and Chuck Berry, and in the '60s with Etta James, Fontella Bass, Koko Taylor, Little Milton, Laura Lee and Tommy Tucker, as well as with the subsidiary labels Checker, Argo and Cadet. As the 1960s progressed, Chess's recording enterprise branched out into other genres including gospel, traditional jazz, spoken word, comedy, and more. In the early 1960s, Chess became involved in the broadcasting business as part owner of WVON-AM radio and later acquired WSDM-FM, both in Chicago. In October 1969, a few months after selling his namesake label to General Recorded Tape, Leonard Chess died on October 16, 1969 of a heart attack.

Music industry historian John Broven has written that "Leonard Chess was the dynamo behind Chess Records, the label that, along with Atlantic and Sun, has come to epitomize the independent record business. Leonard Chess set new standards for the industry in artist development, deal making, networking, and marketing and promotion…".

PHILIP ''PHIL'' CHESS - born in is an American record producer and company executive, the co-founder of Chess Records. He was born as Fiszel Czyż in a Jewish community in Częstochowa, Poland. He and his brother Lejzor, sister Malka and mother followed their father to Chicago in 1928. The family name was changed to Chess, with Lejzor becoming Leonard and Fiszel becoming Philip.

In 1946, after leaving the Army, Phil joined Leonard in running a popular club, the Macomba Lounge. Two years later, Leonard became a partner in Aristocrat Records, a local company that recorded a wide range of music, and Phil joined in 1950. The company then changed its name to Chess Records, and began concentrating on rhythm and blues music, signing and recording artists such as Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, "Sonny Boy Williamson" (Rice Miller), Robert Lockwood Jr., Etta James and Chuck Berry. Phil Chess was actively involved in producing many of their seminal blues and rock and roll recordings. The company expanded successfully through the 1950s and early 1960s, until it was sold to GRT in 1968.

Phil Chess retired to Arizona in 1972. Phil and Leonard Chess were both inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame as non-performers in 1995. In February 2013, Phil Chess attended the ceremony to receive one of The Recording Academy's Trustees Awards for non-performers presented to him and his brother. Phil Chess, the legendary co-founder of Chicago’s Chess Records, died in Tucson, Arozona on October 19, 2016 at the aged 95.

MARSHALL CHESS – born March 13, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois and is the son and nephew of the founders of Chess Records, the Chicago-based independent record label that first recorded an unprecedented list of African-American, blues and early rock and roll artists such as: Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Bo Diddley, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Memphis Slim, John Lee Hooker, Rufus Thomas, Memphis Minnie, Elmore James, Willie Dixon, Chuck Berry, Etta James and Buddy Guy, among others.

Leonard Chess and his brother Phil were two American immigrants from the Jewish community in Motal, Poland who in 1947 had purchased part of an independent record label called Aristocrat Records. Within a few short years the label was renamed after the family's Americanized surname 'Chess' and quickly produced a list of American blues artists that would come to be regarded as the greatest collection of the genre in recorded history.

Marshall learned every aspect of the record business while working for sixteen years with the founders of Chess Records; his father Leonard and his uncle Phil doing everything from pressing records and loading trucks to producing over 100 Chess Records projects and eventually heading up the label as President after the GRT acquisition in 1969. In the late 1960s Marshall also ran his own record label Cadet Concept, a division of Chess Records. He created and produced the Rotary Connection, which became the springboard for Minnie Riperton’s career. He signed John Klemmer and created a new format which was heralded as the first jazz-fusion album, ''Blowin' Gold''. He signed the underground black rock legends Black Merda. His Cadet Concept also imported and released the first and only American hit, Pictures of Matchstick Men, by the British rock group Status Quo. He also created and produced the controversial psychedelicized blues albums Electric Mud, by Muddy Waters; and, This Is Howlin' Wolf's New Album. He Doesn't Like It. He Didn't Like His Electric Guitar At First, Either by Howlin' Wolf. He restored his reputation by producing the jam album Fathers & Sons with Waters, Mike Bloomfield, Otis Spann, Paul Butterfield, Duck Dunn, Sam Lay, and Buddy Miles in 1969.

Departing from Chess Records in 1970 after the death of his father, Marshall was hired as the founding president of Rolling Stones Records, a vanity record label for the English rock group he had known since the mid 1960s when the band had used Chess studios in Chicago to record songs while touring the United States. He was an active executive manager, touring with the band, and being involved with record production as well as outside business interests. He helped create the Rolling Stones famous tongue and lip logo and was involved as executive producer on seven Rolling Stones albums during the 1970s. In 1977 Chess resigned from Rolling Stones Records after realizing that too much drugs, sex, and rock n roll was undermining his health and leadership in the company. He was replaced with Earl McGrath on the advice of Atlantic Records head Ahmet Ertegün, the Stones newly signed record distribution partner.

As well as music, Chess produced three films in the 1960s and 1970s: The Legend of Bo Diddley, Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones, and the unrated, unreleased concert tour documentary Cocksucker Blues by Robert Frank.

During the 1980s and 1990s Marshall produced projects for both Sire Records and Island Records and for Howdy Doody. He also produced many rap records at the beginning of the rap generation. He worked with rap star KRS-One, developing an audio comic book project, Break The Chain, for Marvel Comics.
In 1984, Marshall Chess became a partner in the famous blues and rock publishing company ARC Music, which he began actively heading in 1992. More recently he finished a film project called Godfathers and Sons directed by Marc Levin, for the PBS series The Blues, produced by Martin Scorsese. In the film, Marshall produces a hip hop version of the classic Chess track “Mannish Boy” featuring rappers Chuck D and Common recording with original members of the Electric Mud band.

In 1999 Chess founded the Czyz Records record label, with his cousin Kevin. On 21 September 1999 the first record released on Czyz Records was the Murali Coryell album 2120, named after Chess' old Chicago address at 2120 South Michigan. Czyz (pronounded "Chez" or "Chaz") was the original Polish surname of Leonard and Phil Chess when they arrived in America from Poland.

In the year 2000, Marshall, his son Jamar Chess, and partner Juan Carlos Barguil created their own Latin music administration company and all-digital label named Sunflower Entertainment Co., Inc. Sunflower has quickly become the leading licensor and administrator of all genres of independent Latin music. More recently, Jamar Chess has overseen the signing of Vakero, the numbere 1 Dominican hip hop artist and leader of the Rap Dominicano movement. There have been over 1.8 million views on YouTube of Vakero music and promotional videos.

Marshall has been on Sirius Satellite Radio's Blues Channel since 2007 hosting the Chess Records Hour, a three times a week show featuring the music and history of Chess Records. He also is the executive music producer on two movies, Cadillac Records, released in 2008, and Who Do You Love, which is now in post production and is scheduled for 2009 release.

CHECKER RECORDS - is an inactive record label that was started in 1952 as a subsidiary to Chess Records in Chicago, Illinois. The label was founded by the Chess brothers, Leonard and Phil, who ran the label until they sold it to General Recorded Tape (GRT) in 1969, shortly before Leonard's death. The label released recordings by mostly African American artists and groups. Checker's releases cover a wide-range of genres including blues such as Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson II, rhythm and blues such as Sax Mallard, Jimmy McCracklin, doo-wop such as The Flamingos, The Moonglows, gospel such as Aretha Franklin, Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, rock and roll such as Bo Diddley, Dale Hawkins, and soul Gene Chandler.

The label was discontinued in 1971 following GRT's consolidation of the Chess catalogs. As with Cadet and Chess, the label's catalog is now owned by Universal Music Group and releases from the Checker catalog are released by Geffen Records and Chess.

Due to the recent expansion of Chess Records, as well as to achieve greater airplay for singles, the Chess brothers opened up a subsidiary label named Checker. The first 45/78 rpm single released by the label was "Slow Caboose" b/w "Darling, Let's Give Love a Chance" by Sax Mallard and his Orchestra, which was released as Checker 750 in April 1952.

The label's most popular artist, in the label's early years, was Little Walter, who had ten songs released by Checker that made the Top Ten of Billboard magazine's Top Rhythm & Blues Records charts. Among those ten was "Juke" which topped the charts and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.

Checker released several singles by well-established blues artists such as Elmore James, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup (credited as Perry Lee Crudup), and Memphis Minnie, none of which sold well. One well-established blues artist that did manage to make a hit on Checker was Sonny Boy Williamson II, who charted with "Don't Start Me Talkin'" a number 3 in 1955, "Keep It To Yourself" a number 14 in 1956, and "Help Me" number 24 in 1963.

On March 2, 1955, the Chess brothers recorded their first rock and roll artist, Bo Diddley. From this session came Bo's self-titled debut single on Checker, which topped the Rhythm and Blues charts and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. Another one of Bo Diddley's Checker singles, "Who Do You Love?", was inducted in 2010.

In 1957, Checker cracked into the rockabilly market with Dale Hawkins, who had a crossover hit with "Susie
Q", although he could not repeat the single's success. In 1958, Checker released its first 12" 33⅓ rpm LP record, the Best Of Little Walter, which was released as Checker LP-1428.


COVER RECORDS - In 1959, Buddy Black Cunningham Sr. started his own record label, Cover Records, located at Stratton-Warren Hardware Building, 110 East Calhoun in Memphis, assisted by his son Blake Baker, who became a jack of all trades for the label, singer, songwriter, session player, producer and general handyman. One of the first records on Cover Records was B.B.'s "Trip To Bandstand" b/w ''Electrode'' (Cover 5931), an obvious cash-in on Bill Parsons's "All American Boy". Credited to simply "B-B", it was one of the few vocal Cover releases by Cunningham Jr., who had six 45s issued on his father's label between early 1959 and 1962. Of the instrumental tracks, the one of the best is "Ivory Marbles", a pleasant piano rocker backed by ''Sea Fever'', which has been reissued on several compilations. "Beale Street Twist" b/w ''Hip Pocket Twist'' (Cover 4622, 1962) was credited to Lyn Vernon. By 1962, Cunningham Jr. had taken over the running of the label from his father.

During its 7-year lifespan, Cover Records issued rock and roll, rockabilly, rhythm and blues, jazz and straight pop, virtually all by local Memphis artists. A nice overview of the label's output can be found on the CD "Hot Rockin' Music - From Memphis: The Cover Recording Company Story", issued by Dave Travis in 2000 (Stomper Time STCD 10). It includes 13 tracks by B.B. Junior, that is. Probably the best known Cover release is "Ain't That A Dilly" by Marlon Grisham, which is available on countless compilations.

SUPREME RECORDS - A division of Cover Records, Memphis, Tennessee.

BUDDY BLAKE CUNNINGHAM - Originally born in 1919 and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Buddy Blake Cunningham had a career as a minor league pitcher to concentrate on singing. Instead he pitched himself as a vocalist, albeit in the style of forties' crooner, Rus Morgan. Using a song from Lew Douglas, an arranger who had once worked with Tommy Dorsey in his hometown of Chicago, Cunningham cut his own master and sold tapes to Sun.

In July 1954 he was living in Memphis very close to Sam Phillips, and he was the closest thing to a star on the Sun roster that month too. His Valley recording of "Angels In The Sky", which, like this record, was also directed by Cliff Parman had been a good regional seller earlier in 1954.

The first Phillips International release extended the Sun career of Buddy Blake Cunningham. Blake had been last heard from three years earlier on Sun 208, a record most collectors remember with a shudder. The deservedly rare "Right Or Wrong" b/w "Why Do I Cry" makes most short lists for the least favorite and most anomalous early Sun release. For whatever reason, Blake's style held considerable appeal for Sam Phillips, who worked overtime with the local singer, scheduling sessions at 706 Union in March, April, May and June 1957. Blake left more that a dozen unissued sides from these dates which a quarter of a century of Sun archaeologists have never deemed worthy of resurrection. "Right Or Wrongly", Buddy Blake has never been the poster boy for Sun record collectors.

Still, Sam Phillips gave Buddy a second kick at the can on Phillips International in 1957, and Buddy's son, B.B., went on to become a luminary in the local scene as a member of the Hombress. Buddy himself went on to start a collection agency which may have repo'd the automobiles of several members of the Sun rooster. After his final session at 706 Union, the by now well-versed Blake departed to set up his own Cover Records operation in Memphis from the downtown Exchange Building in 1959.

Assisted by his son Blake Baker, who became a jack of all trades for the label: singer, songwriter, session player, producer and general handyman. One of the first records on Cover was B.B.'s "Trip To Band Stand" (Cover 5931), an obvious cash-in on Bill Parsons's "All American Boy". Credited to simply "B-B", it was one of the few vocal Cover releases by Cunningham Jr., who had six 45s issued on his father's label between early 1959 and 1962. Of the instrumental tracks, the one is like the best is "Ivory Marbles", a pleasant piano rocker, which has been reissued on several compilations. "Beale Street Twist" (Cover 4622, 1962) was credited to Lyn Vernon. By 1962, Cunningham Jr. had taken over the running of the label from his father after his death in 2000.

During its 7-year lifespan, Cover Records issued rock and roll, rockabilly, rhythm and blues, jazz and straight pop, virtually all by local Memphis artists. A nice overview of the label's output can be found on the CD "Hot Rockin' Music - From Memphis: The Cover Recording Company Story", issued by Dave Travis in 2000 (Stomper Time STCD 10). It includes 13 tracks by B.B. (Junior, that is.) Probably the best known Cover release is "Ain't That A Dilly" by Marlon Grisham, which is available on countless compilations.


CRYSTAL RECORDS - Stan Kesler started up his own Crystal label with Memphis businessmen Eugene Lucchesi and Drew Canale (Canale owned the National Tobacco Company and Canale Amusement) in 1957.

They made some local noise with Jimmy Pritchett's ''That's The Way I Feel'' backed with ''Nothing On My Mind (Crystal 503) and Don Hosea's ''Everlasting Love'' backed with ''I'll Try Again'' (Crystal 501) but, according to the Rob Bowman and Ross Johnson interview of Stan for The Journal of Country Music, the label folded after a few more releases. "Canale put in a thousand dollars and expected back 10,000 next week'', Stan Kesler told them, " and Drew wouldn't work''. Kesler went on to say that "In 1959, Clyde and I put in our own studio. We got some semi-pro equipment... we were up on Main Street''.

PEN RECORDS - The first Pen Records release was on Bobby Wood's band, The Skylighters, and they would have their first chart action (number 74 on the Hot 100) after the move to Sam Phillips when they leased Wood's version of Kesler composition If I'm A Fool For Loving You (later, of course, famously covered by Elvis at American Sound) to Joy Records in the Summer of 1964.

XL RECORDS - For one reason or another, Eugene Lucchesi and Kesler would start up another label named XL around this time.

STAN ''STANLEY'' KESLER - Stan Kesler is an American retired musician, record producer and songwriter, whose career began at the Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. Producer Stan Kesler is best known for forming two of the industry's most renowned studio groups, the American Studios Rhythm Section (otherwise known as the 827 Thomas Street Band) and the Dixie Flyers, only to have both groups stolen away. He co-wrote several of Elvis Presley's early recordings including "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone" and "I Forgot to Remember to Forget", and played guitar and bass on hit records by Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. As a producer, his successful records included "Wooly Bully" by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.

Born as Stanley Augustus Kesler on August 11, 1928 in Abbeville, Mississippi. He learned to play mandolin and guitar as a child, and steel guitar during his time in the U.S. Marines. After his discharge, he formed a band with his brothers, before joining Al Rodgers in his band, performing in and around Amarillo, Texas. After two years with Rodgers, Kesler moved around 1950 to Memphis, where he played in various country and western swing bands, including the Snearly Ranch Boys led by Clyde Leoppard, who also included Quinton Claunch. Kesler began writing songs for the band to record, and several were taken up by other singers at the Sun studios headed by Sam Phillips. These included Warren Smith, and Elvis Presley, who recorded "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone" in 1954, and "I Forgot to Remember to Forget" the following year. Presley's recording of "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone", written by Kesler with William E. (Bill) Taylor, was released as a single by Sun Records and reached number 5 on the country chart; his version of "I Forgot to Remember to Forget", written by Kesler with Charlie Feathers, reached number 1 on the country chart in early 1956.

By 1955, Kesler had also become a regular session musician at Sun, playing with the house band on records by Carl Perkins and others before switching to bass, which he played on Jerry Lee Lewis' 1957 hit "Great Balls of Fire", and records by Roy Orbison. He also worked as a recording engineer at the Sun Studio. In the late 1950s, he founded his own record label, Crystal, later starting two more labels, Pen and XL. In the mid1960s, he found success with XL, producing "Wooly Bully" and several subsequent hits by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. He also worked as a producer with blues musician Willie Cobbs, recording the original version of "You Don't Love Me".

Kesler also engineered recording sessions for Quinton Claunch's for Goldwax label, working with soul singer James Carr among others, and in that capacity put together a band of session musicians who included guitarist Reggie Young, drummer Gene Chrisman, keyboardist Bobby Emmons, and bassist Tommy Cogbill.

After achieving initial success with Kesler at Goldwax, the band was persuaded to leave to join Chips Moman's new American Sound Studio in Memphis, where they had greater success becoming known as the "Memphis Boys". The group went on to unheralded success, playing on 120 hit records in a three-year period. Kesler then put together a new recording group at the Sounds of Memphis Studio, including guitarist Charlie Freeman, bassist Tommy McClure, keyboardist Jim Dickinson, and drummer, Sammy Creason, until they were able to cut a quality session (they backed Albert Collins on his Grammy-nominated Trash Talkin' album), only to have his studio musicians stolen again, this time by Atlantic head Jerry Wexler. The group, naming themselves the Dixie Flyers, relocated to Miami's Criteria studios, where they went on to record successful albums for Aretha Franklin and Jerry Jeff Walker. When Kesler's third studio group was lured away by music attorney Seymour Rosenberg, the producer finally gave up the notion of independent recording and returned to work as an engineer for Sam Phillips.

Kesler eventually gave up the idea of independent production and in 1978 returned to work at the new Sun Studio at Madison Avenue in Memphis as an engineer. He later formed a touring group, the Sun Rhythm Section, with guitarists Paul Burlison and Sonny Burgess, two drummers D. J. Fontana and Jimmy M. Van Eaton, keyboardist Jerry Lee "Smoochie" Smith of the Mar-Keys, and Marcus Van Story. The band toured internationally, and recorded an album on ''Flying Fish Records, Old Time Rock And Roll'' (Flying Fish FF445) in 1987. Stan Kesler is retired from the music industry in the early 1990s, and later lived in Bartlett, Tennessee, close to Memphis.


DUKE RECORDS - was an American record label, started in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1952 by David James Mattis (WDIA program director and disc jockey) and Bill Fitzgerald, owners of Tri-State Recording Company. Their first release was Rosco Gordon singing "Hey Fat Girl", issued on Duke R-1, later amended to R-101.

After forming a partnership with Mattis in the summer of 1952, Don Robey (founder of Houston's Peacock Records) took control of Duke. Both labels then headquartered at his Bronze Peacock club at 2809 Erastus Street in Houston, focusing on rhythm and blues and gospel music. Robey started in 1957 a subsidiary, Back Beat Records, in 1957 and in the 1960s, Back Beat became a soul music label with album issues by Joe Hinton, O.V. Wright, and Carl Carlton. Duke Records in the 1960s had hits by Bobby "Blue" Bland and Junior Parker.

Don Robey sold Duke/Peacock to ABC-Dunhill on May 23, 1973, but stayed on, as a consultant with ABC overseeing the release of catalog material. Don Robey died on June 16, 1975.

DON ROBEY - Label owner, songwriter, producer, his name should be on any serious list of early pop, rhythm and blues pioneers. His Duke-Peacock family of labels boasted an impressive roster: Johnny Ace, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Big Mama Thornton, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, the Dixie Hummingbirds, O.V. Wright, Carl Carlton, the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, Inez Andrews, Memphis Slim, Little Junior Parker, Joe Hinton, and more.

Born on November 1, 1903, in Houston, Texas, Robey's entrepreneurial spirit was nutured while growing up around the elite of Houston's black business community. Dropping out of high school, he tried his hand at being a professional gambler.

After marriage and having a son, he opened a taxicab business. Combining his passion for music with his business sense, Robey became an event promoter, holding ballroom dances around the Houston area. During the late 1930s, Robey left Houston for a few years for Los Angeles, opening the Harlem Grill night club. After returning to Houston in the mid-1940s, he opened the Bronze Peacock Dinner Club spotlighting top jazz talent.

Later, Robey opened a record store and in 1947 he became a talent manager signing blues singer/guitarist Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. In 1949, after a bad experience with Palladium Records, Robey decided to start a record label and asked Evelyn Johnson to do some research. Based on her work, Robey decided to start Peacock Records and recorded Brown as his first artist. The double-sided hit "Mary Is Fine" (number eight rhythm and blues) backed with "My Time Is Expensive" (number nine rhythm and blues) was a hit during late 1949. More hits followed: Marie Adams' number three rhythm and blues hit "I'm Gonna Play The Honky Tonks'', Floyd Dixon's number eight rhythm and blues hit "Sad Journey Blues'', and Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton's number one hit "Hound Dog''.

In 1952, Robey merged his Peacock label with Dave James Mattis' Duke Records of Memphis, Tennessee, and Duke-Peacock was born. Robey took over full ownership of the label in 1953. Signed to Duke were legendary blues singer Johnny Ace and Roscoe Gordon. Ace had three number one rhythm and blues hits: "My Song'', which held the top spot for nine weeks during the fall of 1952; "The Clock'', which was number one for five weeks in summer 1953; and "Pledging My Love'', which was number one for ten weeks. The rest of Ace's singles were Top Ten rhythm and blues hits: "Cross My Heart" (number three), "Saving My Love For You" (number two), "Please Forgive Me" (number six), "Never Let Me Go" (number nine), and "Anymore" (number seven). The singer's legend only increased when he was fatally shot during a backstage game of Russian Roulette at Houston's City Auditorium, dying the following day on December 25, 1954.

Another early Duke-Peacock star was Little Junior Parker. A cousin of Al Green and a bandmate of Howlin' Wolf, the singer/harmonica player first hit the charts with "FeelinFeelin' Good" by Little Junior's Blue Flames on Sun Records, which hit number five rhythm and blues in fall 1953. His first Duke hit was "Next Time You See Me" (number seven rhythm and blues) in 1957, and more Top Ten hits followed: "Driving Wheel," "In The Dark," and "Annie Get Your Yo Yo''. Charting 45 singles on the rhythm and blues charts and 33 on the pop charts, Duke-Peacock's all-around biggest rhythm and blues star was Bobby "Blue" Bland. A bandmate of Johnny Ace, Rosco Gordon, and Little Parker in the Beale Streeters and a Duke artist before the merger, Bland first charted with "Farther Up the Road'', a number one rhythm and blues hit in fall 1957. Bland's batch of Duke-Peacock Top Ten rhythm and blues hits also includes "Little Boy Blue'', "I'll Take Care Of You", written by Brook Benton, "Lead Me On'', "Cry Cry Cry'', "I Pity The Fool'', "Don't Cry No More'', "Turn on Your Love Light'', "Ain't That Loving You'', "Yield Not To Temptation'', "Stormy Monday Blues'', the double-sided hit "That's the Way Love Is" b/w "Call on Me'', and "These Hands (Small but Mighty)''.

No record label can have hits without talented personnel in the background. Robey's staff included promotion/sales reps Dave Clark and Irving Marcus, as well as producer/arrangers Joe Scott, Johnny Otis, and Bill Harvey. Evelyn Johnson ran Robey's Buffalo Booking Agency. The club and the label were located at 2612 Erastus Street. Robey began issuing gospel on Peacock; in fact, he issued more gospel music than blues or rhythm and blues. He assembled an amazingly rich and enduring roster of gospel talent: the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Sensational Nightingales, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, Reverent Cleophus Robinson, Christland Singers (with original Soul Stirrers lead singer R.H. Harris), O'Neal Twins, the Highway QCs, Reverent W. Leo Daniels, Reverent Julius Cheeks, Swan Silvertones, Harmonizing Four, Willie Banks and the Messengers, Mildred Clark, Tessie Hill, Charles Fold and the Gospel Messengers, Sunset Travelers, and others. The Hummingbirds, who were still performing in the 1990s, made the rhythm and blues charts with "Loves Me Like A Rock" (number 72 rhythm and blues in fall 1973). That same year, the group backed Paul Simon on his gold number two pop remake of the tune in late summer 1973. Robey also released gospel on his Song Bird label, which was formed in late 1963.

In 1957, Don Robey started Back Beat, an R&B label that had hits with O.V. Wright, Joe Hinton, and Texas rock-country singer/guitarist Roy Head and the Traits. Also signed to Back Beat was rock group the Rob Roys, which included future hit composer/producer Charles Fox ("Happy Days"). Carl Carlton, whose two biggest hits were the 1981 million-seller "She's A Bad Mama Jama" and "Everlasting Love'', got his first big break through Don Robey. Carlton, who started recording for Lando Records in his teens as Little Carl Carlton in 1964 in his native Detroit, was signed to Back Beat after the label picked up the Lando single "Competition Ain't Nothin'''.

While industry vets like Gus Redmond and Rick Roberts can talk of Robey's notorious ways, an important fact should not be overlooked: Robey was one of the first African-Americans to own a highly successful record label in the United States, predating Motown's Berry Gordy by more than a decade. The music business can be extremely rough and Robey proved that he could be as rough as any of his peers. Robey sold Duke-Peacock to ABC-Dunhill Records on May 23, 1973. He was retained as a consultant with ABC, which reissued the Duke-Peacock catalog. During the 1980s, MCA Records purchased the ABC Records catalog, including Robey's legacy. On June 16, 1975, Don Robey died in his native Houston.


FERNWOOD RECORDS - In 1955, Memphis was buzzing with the fresh and exciting sounds emanating from Sam Phillips' Sun Record Company with artists as diverse as Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Billy Emerson, Rosco Gordon, Slim Rhodes and Little Milton. In those days, Memphis was a Music Centre that generated those great rarities, excitement, feeling and excellence, and there were plenty of other entrepreneurs standing in the wings hoping to pick up a piece of Sam Phillips' action.

One of them, Ronald ''Slim'' Wallace was born February 28, 1922, in Paragould, Arkansas, Ronald Wallace grew up during the hard times of the Great Depression. Slim served in the Civilian Conservation Corps and the United States Navy. After the war he supported his family as a truck driver, but his love of music led him to open a night club in Paragould. Slim’s Cotton Club drew talented musicians from across the Delta. Billy Lee Riley from Newport, Arkansas, and Jack Clement and Glenn Honeycutt from Mississippi played there, and all three joined Slim in forming a western swing band called the Dixie Ramblers, a hot western swing outfit, based in Memphis and resident at Slim's club, 90 miles outside Memphis in Arkansas. Ronald ''Slim'' Wallace could see Memphis was going to become a music center, so in 1955 he moved his family to 152 Fernwood Drive and turned the garage behind the family home into a record studio and record label, Fernwood Records.

Born in Whitehaven, Memphis on April 5, 1931, Jack Clement's musical pedigree first reared it's head, after he had been discharged from the Marines in 1952, when he joined up with Buzz Busby as Buzz and Jack The Bayou Boys, playing bluegrass around the Boston area. Jack was featured playing acoustic guitar, mandolin and steel. Jack returned to Memphis, joined Slim's band and, having observed the success of Sun records, formed a partnership with Slim to create Fernwood Records, operating out of Slim's garage on Fernwood Drive. Noticing Billy Riley's obvious talent, Slim and Jack elected to cut their first single with Riley in Slim's garage on an old Magnacord tape recorder that had been bought from Memphis disc jockey Sleepy-Eyed John. Things did not go so well initially, so they rented WMPS studio to achieve the desired sound on ''Trouble Bound''/''Rock With Me Baby', destined to be Fernwood 101. The unissued title ''Think Before You Go'' was recorded at the same session. Jack took the tape to be mastered at Sam Phillips' Sun studio, where Sam liked the tape so much that he offered Riley a Sun recording contract and Jack Clement a job at the Studio. The result was the exit of Riley and Clement to Sun leaving Slim Wallace to soldier on.

So Slim turned to another one of his band vocalists, Ramon Maupin to record Fernwood 101 ''No Chance''/''Love Gone''. Maupin was a Memphis based singer, songwriter and musician, who worked for several years in Slim's band and was also to become associated musically with Charlie Feathers. While Fernwood 101 had strident hillbilly overtones, which excited Slim enough into pressing a rare 78 of the release, sales were not rewarding and it would be 2 years before Ramon would appear again on Fernwood 105 with the riotous ''Rocking' Rufus'' /''What's The Use'' by which time Scotty Moore and his 'crew' had taken over studio production. Ramon remained active until the early 1970's, but sadly died in the 1980's, his considerable talent, mostly unrewarded.

Slim was surprised by the lack of sales on his first release and sat back a while to ''recharge his batteries'', returning with quite some potential clout in the shape of Scotty Moore, who had left Elvis Presley along with Bill Black and D.J. Fontana. Scotty was made Vice-President of Fernwood and studio producer, as it was felt that Scotty was more attuned to recording rock and roll and general pop of the time. The first production was the very unusual Fernwood 102 of ''Knock Down, Drag Out' by Buford Peek, who was the main vocalist of that moment with Jimmy Haggett's Band. The fusion of rockabilly with western swing continued on the Bside ''Wishing'', where Buford almost croons over the western swing feel, which then breaks into a fine hillbilly guitar solo.

The highly talented Travis Wammack, all of 13 years old, made his recording debut at this point on Fernwood 103. With his unbroken voice, he roars through ''Rock 'N' Roll Blues''/''I'm Leavin' Today'' very ably supported by Eddie Bond's Stompers with notable contributions from another guitar prodigy, Reggie Young, and Smokey Joe Baugh on piano. Unknown until now is the fact that it was Eddie Bond, who was instrumental in arranging that first Wammack recording contract with Slim Wallace and it was Eddie again, who would use Travis on Shows to give him his first taste of working in front of an audience. Travis Wammack would later develop into a fine guitarist and vocalist, who would scratch the charts a little later, with his fine record of ''Scratchy''.

Clyde Leoppard ran one of the most consistently popular bands in the Memphis area and it was in 1958 that he was featuring a local singer called Eddie Collins. Collins had the classic Memphis locale hillbilly voice, which he used to great effect on Fernwood 104 ''Patience Baby''/''Can't Face Life Alone''. At the same session, Collins recorded his most commercial effort in ''I've Been Around Too Long'', which was to be issued on El-Rio 414 using ''Patience Baby'' as the B-side.

Thomas Wayne Perkins, brother of Luther Perkins, Johnny Cash's famous understated lead guitarist was born in Batesville, Mississippi on July 22, 1940 and duly attended Humes High School, where he formed a vocal group with three girls, Nancy Reed, Sandra Brown and Carol Moss, to play High School Hops with a very young Lincoln ''Chips'' Moman on guitar.

Chips Moman wrote the classic ''This Time'', later to be a hit for Troy Shondell, but the original was put together by Thomas, Chips and the Girls, now called, the De-Lons. With the blistering ''You're The One That Done It'', written by Ray Scott of ''Flying Saucer Rock 'N' Roll Fame'', on the other side, Fernwood 106 had all the making of a hit, to the extent that, Mercury Records licensed the master from Fernwood and tried their luck with it, as well, sadly to no avail. Thomas Wayne would eventually produce Fernwood's biggest and only hit with the teenaged balled ''Tragedy'', which will be included on the next Fernwood CD along with the rest of the Thomas Wayne story.

At this point, with Duane Eddy riding high in the charts, Scotty Moore produced his only Fernwood single ''Have Guitar Will Travel''/''Rest'' on Fernwood 107. This excellent instrumental had the benefit of some beefy back-up form Bill Black and D. J. Fontana, but sadly did not crack the charts. Books have been written about Scotty Moore, Bill Black and D. J. Fontana on their time with Elvis Presley and their subsequent importance in the world of rock and roll, but here Scotty was firmly ensconced as Vice-President of Fernwood and hitting his stride as an excellent producer with Bill Black and D.J. Fontana helping out with session work. The King's Band had much to do with those early Fernwood Sessions.

It was around this time that a musical lawyer named Bob Buckalew was brought in to strengthen the team. Fernwood was certainly releasing some great singles and a legal mind was felt necessary to add weight to the team. As Fernwood was only a few months away from the massive hit ''Tragedy'', this turned out to be a wise move.

Fernwood 121 boasted the talents of Bill Reeder, another native of Memphis, with his excellent single ''You're My Baby''/''Where Were You Last Night''. With a definite nod in the direction of Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids, ''You're My Baby'' almost captures that easy rolling Texas feel. Reeder later recorded for Vol-Para out of Paragould, Arkansas and then for sides for Hi including tasty versions of the Teddy Redell song ''Judy'' and ''Till I Waltz Again With You''. Reeder was still playing clubs into the 1980's, but, he had opted for the more profitable and comfortable life of selling insurance. Sadly he died from a heart attack earlier this year.

Fernwood 124 produced that rare single in rockabilly/rock and roll, a novelty single that works. About Alvin Holland and Bill Bennett nothing seems to be known, but their one-off single is truly a gem with Piano and drumstick working together to crate the typewriter effect of ''Typing Jive''.

Slim Wallace was quite an entrepreneur and, along, one suspects, with some advice from Bob Buckalew, tried his hand at releasing singles on various Fernwood subsidiary labels such as Pure Gold/Bootheel/El Rio/Mid South/S. & W./Whirl A Way, the latter being controlled by Slim's wife. Some stunning singles were released, but, sadly again without any real chart success.

El Rio 413 by Eldon Rice has to be one of the best double sides from those far off rockin' days with both ''Don't Let Love Break Your Heart''/''Our Love Won't Die'' steaming along helped by some truly blistering guitar work from Roland Janes. Both titles were written by Mary Louise Black, who would later become Mary Louise Rice. In 1963, Eldon and Mary were living in Carrier Mills, Illinois, where Mary landed a new songwriting contract with Santo Music.

Another one-off artist was Doug Clayton, who breezed into Memphis in 1963 to make his classic single ''Saturday Night Twist''/''Sally Ann'', which Slim released on Pure Gold 300. Despite it's ''Twist'' title, this was simply a good old fashioned Memphis rocker with some more excellent guitar work. Nothing is known about Doug, except that he probably rode off into the Memphis Sunset clutching his piece of Pure Gold, which it certainly is.

Probably in 1964, Slim set up Whirl A Way Records, apparently as some form of Tax Haven for his wife. The records were pressed and there seems to have been no promotion for any of them. Indeed, at the time of writing only 4 singles have so far been discovered, while the catalogue numbering indicates at least nine. Paul Sullivan's ''Juke Joint Boogie'' is one of the Whirl A Way rarities, which has become a Club favourite over the years. Incredibly, it was released as late as December 1965, sounding like it had been made in 1957. It seems safe to say that Beatlemania and the British Invasion never touched Fernwood or it's satellites!

Although, by 1959, Fernwood was clearly making every attempt to be a commercial label, it seems that Slim Wallace could not resist releasing a couple of superb, yet wonderfully outdated, Country singles on a very short lived Fernwood country series. Both singles were by Willie Phelps and both were excellent. Featured here are ''D.J's Jamboree''/''Yes Siree, Yes Siree'' from Fernwood FW-45-1 and 45-2 respectively. ''Yes Siree'' is notable for some fine guitar work. Sadly Willie's wonderful warbling seems to have attracted little attention and the country series seems to have quietly faded away along with Willie. Interestingly, Slim appears to have set up a Fernwood Music subsidiary in Norfolk, Virginia, where the first Willie Phelps Fernwood single was re-issued utilising the original matrix with a new label.

This Fernwood Music satellite was also to provide a home for ''Grandpa's Rock'' by the Trail Blazers and the incredible 45 by Gene Criss ''Hep Cat Baby''/''I Don't Know'. Cees Klop of Collector Records spoke to Gene Criss at least 25 years ago and it seems that this classic was a home recording made in a 'kitchen with an extremely limited pressing run. Gene apparently only performed locally for a very short time in a bar and then retired to become a gardener. Properly mastered for the first time, this has to be one of the greatest rockabilly 45's ever released.

Slim, Scotty and Bob were also aware of the lucrative market for Custom Pressings and featured here are a handful of some of the finest that were recorded at Fernwood and then pressed on a single according to the artist’s requirements. Thus we have the immensely likeable Shelby Smith with his most popular rockabilly outings ''Rockin' Mama''/''What's On Your Mind'' '', ''Rosalie'' all released on the Smitty label surprisingly as late as 1960 and 1962. For years, most people assumed that the Smitty 45's were released in the 1950's, a fact that Shelby appeared to agree with. However, the original contracts clearly tell a different story, although, of course, this does not alter the fact that they are still wonderful records of the time (or perhaps I should say 'Out of Time'). ''Rockin' Mama'' and ''What's On Your Mind'' are two outstanding rockers with some classic
instrumental breaks, while ''Rosalie'' is very unusual in that Shelby is almost crooning the lyrics interspersed with some tough and very lengthy guitar breaks.

Another fine Smitty 45 came courtesy of Virgle Baker with '''I Satisfied'' (Sic)/''That's All You Do''. This excellent double sider turned up in the Fernwood files and this must be it's first release since the original 45 in 1960. Virgle recorded a number of sides for various Memphis labels, notably for Marshall Ellis of Erwin and Zone records.

Jimmy & James and the Tempos appear to have committed themselves to wax on just one occasion sometime in 1960 with the very tasty ''No Kisses Have I''/''The Moon Will Shine'', which they had pressed on Dora 123. This well produced double sided rocker came courtesy of Cees Klop, who raved about if for a long time, before the Fernwood deal was cemented.

Thomas Mitchell also seems to have recorded his marvellous '''I'm A Wise Old Cat'' sometime in 1960. Immensely popular on the European club scene, this track has been 'bootlegged' on a number of occasions. It's a steaming rocker in the best Memphis tradition with great instrumental breaks. Issued on Flash records, Thomas Mitchell seems to have been just that, a flash in time, Two Minutes and Fifteen Seconds of Rockabilly Heaven and gone! We do know that Thomas came from Shreveport, Louisiana, played the Hayride and made one tasty 45 for Mercury ''Little Mama''/''Jukebox Help Me Find My Baby'.

Finally we come to a couple of riotous rockers previously unreleased that turned up on some tapes provided by Robert Louers. As noted Jack Clement had spent time playing bluegrass music with Buzz Busby, but it seems that Buzz had a notion to move in on the burgeoning rock and roll scene and persuaded Jack to record him on a gasping and breathless rocker called ''Rock 'N' Roll Fever''. Buzz sounds like certainly has fever, as he howls his way through this amazing piece of of nostalgia. Buzz never quite made it in rock and roll and soon returned to bluegrass, although he did work with his brother Wayne recording the wonderful ''Live Your Life With Care'' for Empire Records. Shown as being by Little Louis Robertson, the wonderfully high spirited ''I'm Gonna Rock'' has to be an unreleased recording by Travis Wammack from that 1958 Fernwood session. No question, Travis means the Title and delivers with Gusto.

Fernwood Records operated on and off until 1968, when a flood destroyed tapes and stock at their headquarters on 297 North Main Street. The following year, the same Wayne McGinnis, who had recorded one startlingly good single for Meteor in 1956. A serious young student of Memphis music, Jim Cole, found Wayne and thanks to Jim, I was finally able to meet Wayne and arrange to acquire both Fernwood and Santo Records. For many years now, Sun, Meteor and Hi have been regarded as the main rock and roll/rockabilly/rhythm and blues labels in Memphis, but hopefully with this and other releases being planned, Fernwood will come to be regarded in the same way, in the future.

Fernwood Records was dissolved during the aftermath of Slim’s daughter Sandra’s tragic death in 1976. Slim Wallace died in 2001 at the age of 79, but his musical legacy lives on. Over the years the rockabilly genre has enjoyed repeated revivals both in the United States and in Europe. Ronald Wallace also left a more personal legacy. His grandson Mark also is a musician who is dedicated to preserving the heritage of Fernwood and of his grandfather and the other musicians associated with that studio.

SAVIOUR RECORDS - A subsidary of Fernwood Records, Memphis, Tennessee.

SANTO RECORDS - A subsidary of Fernwood Records, Memphis, Tennessee.

PURE GOLD RECORDS - A subsidary of Fernwood Records, Memphis, Tennessee.

MID-SOUTH RECORDS - A subsidary of Fernwood Records, Memphis, Tennessee.

EL-RIO RECORDS - Eldon Rice was a part owner of this subsidary of Fernwood Records, Memphis, Tennessee.

BOOT HEEL RECORDS - A subsidary of Fernwood Records, Memphis, Tennessee.

WHIRL-A-WAY RECORDS - Owner Dorothy & Ronnie Wallace. A subsidary of Fernwood Records, Memphis, Tennessee.


F & L RECORDS - Founded in March 1958. The label was owned by Frank Floyd and Larry Kennon. Only one record is recorded on this label, on side-A Frank Floyd knocks out brilliant rolling country blues cut "Rock A Little Baby", which features hot acoustic guitar, washboard rhythm and upright bass, and on side-B Larry Kennon wants to make some "Monkey Love" (F-100). Frank Floyd, known as "Harmonica Frank" had recorded on the Sun label in 1954, ''The Great Medical Menagerist'' b/w ''Rockin' Chair Daddy'' Sun 205.

HARMONICA FRANK - KING OF HARPS - Frank Floyd, born to Reuben Brewster Floyd and Estella Miles in Toccopola, Pontotoc County, Mississippi, on October 11, 1908, was nicknamed "Shak" (he was never christened with a formal name). Also known as "Rambling King" and "The Silly Kid". Frank Floyd was one of 3 children and he raised and worked on the farm from his childhood, and he taught himself the harmonica at 10 years of age. He spent his earliest years with his grandparents in rural Arkansas, left home in 1922, and rambled throughout much of the Depression.

He left home in 1922 and adopted the name Frank Floyd. Frank joined a carnival in the early 1920s and played for nickels and dimes on street corners. Floyd was frequent and working as comedian, singing harmonicist in carnivals, amateur shows, on the streets in honky tonk bars, and parks through the South and Southwest circa 1922 through the end of the 1920s. He was influenced by DeFord Bailey, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Palmer McAbee and Jimmy Rodgers, Harmonica Frank worked with the Cole Brothers Carnival through the South in the late 1920s and toured with the West Motorized Show through the South.

In 1932, Harmonica Frank toured as a one man band with the Happy Phillipson's Medicine Show, and worked gigs in Juarez in Mexico, appeared with Buster Steele's Log Cabin Wranglers for KELW-radio in Burbank, California. He also toured with Dr. Hood's Medicine Show through the South in 1933-34 and appeared on his own show for KLCN-radio in Blytheville, Arkansas and appeared on KTHS-radio in Hot Springs, Arkansas during the 1930s. In the early 1940s, Harmonica Frank appeared on WOBT-radio in Union City, Tennessee and frequently worked outside the music as farmer in the mid-1940s, and frequently toured with Eddie Hill's Troupe and he appeared on WMC-radio in Memphis, Tennessee during the late 1940s. In the early 1950s, harmonica Frank appeared on the local radio station in Valdosta, Georgia and worked in the Rainbow Lake Club in Memphis, Tennessee and recorded for the Chess label in Memphis, Tennessee in 1951.

Having already developed his virtuosity on the harmonica he took up the guitar after hearing the Singing Brakeman, Jimmie Rodgers. The shtick he developed during his spell with the Happy Phillipson Medicine Show was faithfully reproduced on Frank's only Sun record, "The Great Medical Menagerist"/"Rockin' Chair Daddy" (SUN 205), in 1954. Occasionally, Frank landed a steady gig at a radio station. It was during a short-term gig with Smilin' Eddie Hill on WMC, Memphis, that he first came to Phillips' attention in 1951.

His credibility high in the wake of "Rocket 88" (CHESS 1458), Sam Phillips persuaded the Chess brothers in Chicago to take two cuts from Harmonica Frank. "Swamp Root" was coupled with a primordel blues, "Goin' Away Walkin'" was replaced with a cover version of Bigg Jeff and the Radio Playboys' hit, "Step It Up And Go".

By the time Frank's second Chess record was released in January 1952 his steady gig on WMC had ended, Eddie Hill having left for Nashville. When he recorded for Sun in 1954, Frank was working at a station in Dyersburg, Tennessee. The Sun single, which coupled the charmingly anachronistic "Great Medical Menagerist" with "Rockin' Chair Daddy" (SUN 205), was released at the same time as Elvis Presley's debut - July 1954. It was Presley's record that sealed Frank's fate. Some reviewers noted that "Rockin' Chair Daddy" was a good blend of black and white musical styles; the problem was that it blended the black and withe musical styles of the 1920s.

Still sensing that he could be a part of the rockabilly revolution, Frank Floyd auditioned for Meteor Records on 1794 Chelsea Avenue in Memphis, and then issued a record on the F and L label, which he co-owned with another would-be rockabilly, Larry Kennon. Frank took the lead vocal on one side, "Rock A Little Baby", and his partner, Larry Kennon, took the vocal on the other side, "Monkey Love". They spent days promoting the record, selling it to variety stores or any one who would take it but sales were very disappointing. Disappointed with its failure, Frank moved to Dallas, started hawking ice cream, and got out of the music business, he even sold his Martin guitar that he had bought with the $100 cheque from Chess Records.

In the early 1960s, Harmonica Frank worked outside in the music in the Dallas, Texas and the Memphis, Tennessee area. At some point, Frank Floyd returned to Tennessee to work for his cousin. He married a woman he met through a lonely hearts club and settled in Millington outside music, near Memphis. It was there, in the early 1970s, that he was rediscovered by Stephen LaVere, who followed a tortuous path to Frank's door, giving him a second lease on life as an attraction at folk music festivals. In 1971, Harmonica Frank, worked at the Mid-South Jamboree, at Linden Circle Theater in Memphis, Tennessee and play frequently in Mama's Coffeehouse in Memphis during 1972, and appeared at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois, performed at the River City Blues Festival in Memphis and on the First Church Congregational in Cambridge, Massachusetts from that same year.

In 1972 through 1974, Harmonica Frank Floyd recorded for the Adelphi label in Silver Spring, Maryland, and toured with the Memphis Blues caravan on concert dates through the mid-West. In 1974, Frank Floyd appeared and worked at the University of California in Santa Barbara, California, and the San Diego State University in San Diego, California (portion remote on KPFK-radio) and recorded in 1975 for the Barrelhouse label in Chicago, Illinois. For his death, Harmonica Frank Floyd worked frequently in coffeehouses, blues festivals, university concerts through the 1970s.

First and last, Frank Floyd was an entertainer: he had learned his craft on countless street corners, where he had only a few seconds to catchosomeone's attention. That skill remained intact fifty years later. Floyd's music belongs to the American disenfranchised of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. He is a self-proclaimed spokesman for the rounders, backwoods rebels, poor farmers, sharecroppers, labourers, drifters, hobos and alley people of that hardtime period.

After his rediscovery, Frank Floyd claimed to have invented rock and roll with much the same cheerful disregard for the facts that Jelly Roll Morton exhibited in claiming to have invented jazz. Yet when Harmonica Frank Floyd entered the Continental Hospital in Blanchester, Ohio where he died August 7, 1984 on pneumonia. Harmonica Frank Floyd is buried at the Clover Cemetery in Bethel, Ohio, and a piece of American musical history died with him.

Only Chris Strachwitz, who runs the Blues Classic label, and Down Home Music, ever paid him any money for his music. He told blues researcher Steve LaVere, who rediscovered him in 1972: "I spent a lot of time listening to the darkies in days gone by singing in the cottonfield down South and I picket up their songs and speech. That is the reason people think I am a coloured man, But I really am white. I never played with no blacks, but I was a fan of Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lonnie Johnson".


Above right: Their own material Fortune recording studio after a session, blues singers have no use for sheet music and music stands.

FORTUNE RECORDS - was an American family operated, independent record label located at 3942 Third Street, Detroit, Michigan from 1946 to 1995. The label owners were Jack and Devora Brown, their son Sheldon Brown recorded for the label. Original releases tapered off after 1972 aside from a few albums in the mid-1980s.

Fortune specialized in rhythm and blues, blues, soul and doo-wop music, although the label also released pop, big band, hillbilly, gospel, rock and roll, and polka records. Fortune released some doo-wop tunes by Nolan Strong & The Diablos, such as "The Wind" (Fortune 511, 1954), "The Way You Dog Me Around" (Fortune 518, 1955), and "Mind Over Matter" (Fortune 546, 1962). Other notable artists on Fortune included John Lee Hooker, Doctor Ross, Andre Williams, and Nathaniel Mayer & The Fabulous Twilights (whose release, "Village of Love," on both Fortune 545 and United Artists 449 in the spring of 1962, was perhaps its most popular release; it reached number 22 pop and number 16 Rhythm & Blues on the Billboard chart). "Village of Love" also made the Top Ten in local radio station surveys in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. It was number 1 in Detroit.

Prior to "Village Of Love," Fortune's biggest-selling record was likely "Bacon Fat" (Fortune 831 and Epic 9196, late 1956) by Andre Williams and His New Group (Which was 5 Dollars on Fortune not Epic), which featured Williams' proto-rap over a sleazy, bluesy arrangement. "Bacon Fat" (the name of the song refers to a dance) reached number 9 Rhythm & Blues on the Billboard chart in early 1957 after it was leased to Columbia's Epic subsidiary for national distribution.

The Five Dollars were from Detroit and were originally known as The Shamrocks and The Del Torros. The members of the group were lead singer Eddie Hurt, tenors Lonnie Heard and Richard Lawrence, baritone James Drayton, and bass Charles Evans. After working on their music and stage presence, they picked up a manager named Sandy Amour and began to sing at area clubs and talent shows. What they were looking for most at the time was a chance to record, and soon in 1955 that goal was realized with a session at home town independent Fortune Records. On August 20, 1955 Dorothy Brown of Fortune announced the signing of the group along with Andre Williams (who was related through marriage to Eddie Hurt) who would also record with the Five Dollars.

The newly renamed Five Dollars recorded some songs for Fortune and in the late summer of 1955 the label released "Doctor Baby" and "Harmony Of Love" on number 821. Richard Lawrence was soon drafted into the military and so the Five Dollars became a vocal quartet. In October Fortune released "Going Down To Tijuana" and Jump, Shake, And Move" by Andre Williams and the group which was billed on the label as Andre Williams & The Don Juans which was released on number 824. In December 1955, Fortune Records announces the release of The Five Dollars with "So Strange" and "You Know I Can't Refuse" on number 826. However, the record was not actually released until March 1956.

Early in 1956 the group recorded again as The Don Juans this time behind vocalist Joe Weaver on "Baby I Love You So" and "It Must Be Love" on number 825. During the spring the group once again as The Don Juans provided backup vocals - this time for vocalist Don Lake on the tunes "Oh Oh Those Eyes" and "Cha Cha Of Love" on Fortune number 520. In August 1956, an interesting bill was put together for a stage show in Windsor, Canada (right across the river from Detroit). Featured on the bill was Stan Kenton and his Progressive Jazz Orchestra, The Nite Caps, Diabolos, and the group now called The Four Dollars. That same month Fortune re-released "Going Down To Tia Juana" by Andre Williams & The Don Juans. In September "Bobby Jean" and "It's All Over" by Andre & The Don Juans is issued by Fortune on number 828, quickly followed by "Cool As A Cucumber" and "Going Back To Chicago" on number 829. In October back as The Five Dollars recorded "Hard Workin' Mama" and "I Will Wait" on number 830. Late in the year Andre Williams with The Don Juans hit with "Bacon Fat" and "Just Because Of A Kiss" on number 831. This time the record gets a lot of attention and generates sales especially in the Midwest.

In January 1957, Joe Weaver on vocals with The Don Juans records "Looka Here Pretty Baby" and "Baby Chile" on number 832. In April The group as The Five Dollars records the sequel called "How To Do The Bacon Fat" on number 833 with Fortune Records pushing the record as part of the dance craze with DJ radio contests as a tie in. The flip side is "You Fool". In May "You Are My Sunshine" and "Mean Jean" by Andre Williams & The Don Juans is released on number 834. In August Fortune releases "This Is A Miracle" and "Calypso Beat" on number 836 as by Little Eddie (Hurt) & The Don Juans. Andre Williams was back fronting the group on "My Tears" with Andre as a solo on "Jail Bait" on number 837. The group had one last record in 1957 with Andre on lead on "Come On Baby" and "The Greasy Chicken" on Fortune number 839.
In 1958 Andre & The Don Juans recorded "My Last Dance With You" and "Hey! Country Girl" on number 842. The Five Dollars record with Jim Sands on lead on the Hi-Q label with "We're Gonna Rock" and "You Don't Know My Mind" on number 5010. In December 1959, Andre Williams and Gino Parks with the Walter Hamilton Combo recorded "Georgia May Is Movin" with The Diabolos, and "Andre Williams Is Movin" with The Five Dollars on Fortune number 851. In 1960 there were two last records by the group. "That's The Way It Goes" and "My baby-Oh" on Fortune number 854, and as The Don Juans - "It's Nice" and "Our Calypso Of Love" behind the lead vocals of Marsha Renay.

That is the varied, involved, and sometimes confusing history of the Detroit vocal group that never had a history of hit makers, but for many years stood on the periphery of the music coming out of the motor city. A CD called "Motor City Doo Wop" on the Regency label from Germany contains 23 tracks including most of the essential history of the group. As The Don Juans, there is a CD called "Mr. Rhythm" also from Regency which headlines Andre Williams and contains a lot of the group sides from Fortune.

Record collectors often find Fortune's numbering system confusing because there were several series issued at once, and also because some particular record numbers were used more than once. From the early 1950s to fall 1956 Fortune had a storefront at 11629 Linwood (now demolished). However, Fortune's best known location was at 3942 Third Avenue in a small concrete block building. Fortune moved there in the fall of 1956 and stayed there until the mid-1990s, when the building was sold and vacated. (The landmark building was demolished late in 2001.) The storefront contained a record shop in the front (the Browns sold their product direct to the public) and the crude 18-by-40 studio in the rear (which originally had a dirt floor).

Whereas its far bigger Detroit rival, Motown Records, perfected a highly polished pop sound, releases on Fortune Records were often characterized by raw, unrestrained vocal performances and relatively simple instrumental arrangements, recorded without excessive care for production values. Recording was accomplished via a few microphones to an Ampex one-track tape deck. As a result, the label's records have a distinctively direct sound and often packed considerable emotional power. It is estimated that Fortune Records and its subsidiaries, Hi-Q Records and Strate-8, released approximately 400 45-RPM vinyl records, as well as long-playing albums, during its existence.


HI RECORDS - Memphis record label started end of 1957 by former Sun artist Ray Harris in partnership with former session musicians/songwriters/producers Quinton Claunch and Bill Cantrell. Cecil Scaife, who later joins Sun, is the label only's employee, operating from a rented house on Poplar Avenue in Memphis. The capital comes from Joe Cuoghi at Poplar Tunes record store , and three silent partners, including Cuoghi's lawyer, Nick Pesce.

The first single, reviewed December 9, 1957, is Carl McVoy's ''Tootsie'' b/w ''You Are My Sunshine'' (Hi 2001), subsequently leased to Phillips International, and re-released in April 1958. With the money from Phillips, the partners install a recording studio in an abandoned movie theater on 1329 South Lauderdale Avenue in Memphis.

Hi Records' first big hit was "Smokie Part 1/2" (Hi 2018), an instrumental by The Bill Black Combo in 1959. Black was a bass player with Elvis Presley and a long time friend of Ray Harris. Founder Claunch was forced out of the label, selling his share in 1960 to Carl McVoy (Jerry Lee Lewis' cousin), who had been involved with label since its first recording and worked with Bill Black.

Willie Mitchell joined the label that year as a recording artist. He later went on to produce Al Green in 1968. Bill Black's saxophonist, Ace Cannon, landed a hit with the single "Tuff" (Hi 2040) in 1961.

Willie Mitchell became head of Artists and Repertoire and was the label's producer. Mitchell met Arkansan Albert Greene in Midland, Texas, and asked him back to Memphis 'to become a star'. Using former Stax drummer Al Jackson, Jr. and three Hodges brothers, Teenie, Charles, and Leroy, on guitar, organ, and bass, Mitchell cultivated an intense moody sound. Described as 'deep soul', the sound was perfected on Green's series of million-sellers: "Let's Stay Together" (Hi 2202), "I'm Still In Love With You" (Hi 2216), "Tired Of Being Alone" (Hi 2194), and so on.

Recordings for Hi Records was done at the Royal Recording Studios located at 1329 South Lauderdale in Memphis, Hi's offices were located at Poplar Tunes, Cuoghi's record store. The label became a subsidiary of British-owned London Records.

Years later, Hi artist Willie Mitchell performed at some of Elvis Presley's New Year's Eve parties in Memphis.

Other artists on the label, including O. V. Wright and Ann Peebles, did not reach the same level of success. In 1970, when founder Joe Cuoghi died and Ray Harris retired, Nick Pesce became president and Willie Mitchell was made vice-president.

Hi Records closed in 1977, but the studio, now known as Royal Recording, is still open and was run by Willie Mitchell. His Royal Sound Studio is the only survivor among the Memphis sound studios. Royal Sound is generally not open to the public. Recent success has come from Scottish teeny-popper Wet Wet Wet, blues artist Johnny Mayo, Syl Johnson, Krysto (the Polish Elvis), and Rappers 201.

The best place to experience the history of the label is at Willie Mitchell's own nightclub, Willie Mitchell's Rhythm and Blues Club at 326 Beale Street.

Willie Mitchell died in Memphis on January 5, 2010 from a cardiac arrest. His final work was producing the final Solomon Burke studio album, ''Nothing's Impossibile'', released in June 2010.

JOE CUOGHI – Born on May 15, 1922 Died 13 July 1970, Memphis, Tennessee. Joe Cuoghi (pronounced so that it rhymes with boogie) was the founder and president of the Hi label. This is not so much a biography of Cuoghi as a history of Hi Records. Joe Cuoghi founded a record shop in Memphis, Poplar Tunes at Poplar Avenue, in 1946 with a high school friend, John Novarese.

Soon it became a hugely lucrative business, which was expanded to become a distributor to the jukebox trade and a one-stop (a subdistributor that services small shops with all labels). Among the frequent visitors of Poplar Tunes was one Elvis Presley.

In 1957, Cuoghi got a visit from three men : Ray Harris, Bill Cantrell and Quinton Claunch. Former Sun singer Ray Harris felt he could produce records and wanted to start a record label. Cantrell and Claunch, who had worked for Sun and Meteor on country music production, were his partners. While working in construction, Harris had met Carl McVoy, a cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis, and for $3,50 Ray cut a demo of McVoy doing a rocked-up version of "You Are My Sunshine". In order to get the record issued, Harris and his partners needed someone with money. Cuoghi couldn't resist the opportunity to start his own label and so Hi Records was born. He recruited his lawyer, Nick Pesce (pronounced "Pay-shee"), and three other investors, Sam Esgro, Bill Brown and Bill Crudgington. They put up $500 each. Harris, Cantrell and Claunch put up nothing, but were to work on the creative end. Cantrell was to be president. Each of the eight partners had thirty shares. Harris and his two partners took off for Nashville with the money and recut "You Are My Sunshine" with "Tootsie" as the other side. This became Hi's first release (Hi 2001), but shortly before it was issued, Cuoghi bought out the three silent partners, making him the majority stockholder. He replaced Cantrell as president.

Early in 1958, the Carl McVoy single showed signs of success and as the distributor orders rolled in, the pressing costs climbed. As hopes and egos soared, hardly anyone noticed that none of the distributors were paying their bills. The record almost put Hi out of business before they got off the ground. Ultimately, the disc - and McVoy's contract - was turned over to Sam Phillips (for $2600) for release on his Phillips International label.

With Sam's money, Cuoghi and his partners rented an old theatre at 1320 South Lauderdale and installed recording equipment. This theatre became the Hi recording studio. It took some time for Hi to find its distinctive niche. The first sixteen records issued on Hi (1957- 1959) - all unsuccessful - were by an array of obscure local performers, some of whom were heard from later. By the summer of 1959, Hi Records was about to fold.

Enter Bill Black. One Sunday in 1959, Elvis's original bass player came to see Ray Harris. Black and Presley had fallen out the previous year and the bassist planned to start his own combo. Harris had some local musicians in mind to work with Black. Together they recruited Reggie Young (guitar), Joe Hall (piano), Martin Wills (sax) and Jerry Arnold (drums). Their first record, "Smokie, Part 2" (Hi 2018), became Hi's first national hit, peaking at number 18 pop and number 1 rhythm and blues in late 1959. Meanwhile, the label had been picked up by London Records for national distribution, an arrangement that would continue until 1977.

Cuoghi couldn't afford to pay session fees for all the hours the musicians had invested in "Smokie" and offered them a profit-sharing plan instead. This led to Willis and Hall leaving the Bill Black Combo; their replacements were, Carl McVoy (piano) and Ace Cannon (sax). In December 1959, Hi released its first album, "Smokie", by Bill Black's Combo (HL 12001). Ray Harris quit his job to concentrate on Hi and persuaded Cuoghi to plow back some of the earnings into a three-track recorder. Quinton Claunch was forced out of the Hi partnership after cutting a Bill Black soundalike band for another label.

Carl McVoy bought Claunch's share for $7000, which he earned on the next Bill Black record, for which he brought an old Hammond organ to the studio. "White Silver Sands" (Hi 2021) was a Top 10 hit (number 9) and, like its predecessor, topped the rhythm and blues charts for four weeks. The Bill Black Combo maintained a consistent output with varying degrees of success for many years, even after the death of Bill Black in 1965.

Ace Cannon cut a solo album with his own combo in 1961 and soon had a hit of his own with "Tuff" (number 17 pop, number 3 on rhythm and blues).

The course of Hi Records was set. Greasy blues-based instrumentals became the label's trademark. By the mid-sixties, the sales of Bill Black and Ace Cannon began to tail off and Hi's most consistent seller became Willie Mitchell, who was essentially recording a punchier version of the same thing. But there were vocal hits as well for Hi. Gene Simmons, who first recorded for the label as early as 1959, had a number 11 hit in 1964 with a slick remake of Johnny Fuller's "Haunted House". Jerry Jaye revived Fats Domino's "My Girl Josephine" and took it to number 29 in 1967. However, by then Hi was stagnating. The salvation for the company came as Willie Mitchell started assuming an increasing role at the Hi Studio. Mitchell had a taste for jazz, but also understood what was commercial in contempo- rary black music. He moved Hi into the soul music genre, achieving fantastic success with Al Green (from 1970 onwards), the most successful Hi artist of' them all. Chart success on a more modest scale came with Ann Peebles, also in the early seventies.

Joe Cuoghi died July 13, 1970 in Memphis, Tennessee. Willie Mitchell became executive vice-president (after buying out Ray Harris and Carl McVoy) and Cuoghi's lawyer, Nick Pesce, became president.

After turning down a $ 9,000,000 offer from Atlantic Records, Hi was sold in 1976 for considerably less. The buyer was Al Bennett, one of the founders of Liberty Records, who operated from the West Coast. After a couple of years of trying to record Memphis Soul in Los Angeles, Willie Mitchell left the label.

Since the introduction of the compact disc, Hi leased their material to several labels, including Motown, MCA and Right Stuff (EMI-Capitol Special Markets), with much of the label's output being reissued on CD.

TRI RECORDS - A subsidary of Fernwood Records, Memphis, Tennessee.

M.O.C. RECORDS - A subsidary of Fernwood Records, Memphis, Tennessee.

DIANE RECORDS - A subsidary of Fernwood Records, Memphis, Tennessee.

Operated by Bill Black.

LOUIS RECORDS - A subsidary of Fernwood Records, Memphis, Tennessee.

Operated by Bill Black.


HOLIDAY INN RECORDS – This label was part of the Holiday Inn chain and was an American record label, founded by D. Wayne Foster in 1961. It was initially intended as a creative outlet for Wayne Foster and Kemmons Wilson, as an independent business venture. Foster ran the label between 1961 and 1963. Sam Phillips of Sun Records later ran the label on behalf of Wilson.

In 1961, D. Wayne Foster discovered a musical group named The Roller Coasters. Foster brought the group to the Owen Bradley's Studio in Nashville, Tennessee to record. The group recorded two songs, "Rim Shot, Part 1" and "Rim Shot, Part 2" this instrumentals already sold over 6000 copies in Memphis and New Orleans after eight days and was picked the "hit of the week" on WMPS in Memphis and WPLO in Atlanta, according to Foster. By June, more than 50.000 copies were sold it was number 1 in Monroe, Louisiana, and presumably other cities. Foster created Holiday Inn Records to distribute the single.

Holiday Inn Records recorded a number of acts that Foster personally discovered, and in most cases he would be involved in the recording sessions, assisted by Neal Matthews Jr. of the Jordanairs. Records were mainly pressed by Plastic Products in Memphis, although the label also used RCA's custom pressing service. By 1962, Holiday Inn expanded its promotion activies and hired Chips Moman for production. The Rollercoasters were still on the label, as well as a new singer called Jimmy Foster. Buck Griffin and Frank Starr, who is known to rockabilly collectors as Andy Starr, also recorded some singles for the label. While Holiday Inn used recording studios in Memphis at the beginning, they were branching out by 1962, cutting sessions in Nashville for example.

By 1963, Foster was devoting only a small amount of time to devote to producing records for the label, as he had many other, more profitable business ventures. After producing eleven more records, Foster decided to leave Holiday Inn. This left Wilson needing to find someone to run Holiday Inn Records. He asked his old friend, Sam Phillips, of Sun Records. Since Phillips had invested in the Holiday Inn Hotel chain earlier, and in the spring of 1968, Sam Phillips was announced as being the president of Holiday Inn with brother Judd being national sales and promotion manager, Bill Fitzgerald became general manager, Judd's son Judd Phillips, Jr., became regional sales and promotion manager, and Sam's son Knox worked as producer. Phillips became the head of the new Holiday Inn label mainly because he was a major stock-holder of the Holiday Inn motel chain and seemed to be perfect for this job. By then, Phillips was in process to sell his Sun/Phillips International catalog to Shelby Singelton. Several unreleased masters, who were not part of the deal with Singelton, were later issued by Phillips on Holiday Inn. Around the same time, new artists such as Jerry Dyke, the Climates, Gregg Todd & the Jacks, Load of Mischief among others were signed, a studio was set up in Memphis, and the new office was at 3756 Lamar Avenue, Memphis. Though, the label still belonged to the Holiday Inn motel chain. Billboard called the label "newly founded" in its March issue, which leads me to the suggestions the label was closed down for some time after 1962 and was revived in 1968. This would also explain why there were no singles in the mid-1960s and the change in the numerical system.

Already in February 1968, the label released the first album on the new incarnation by Dotty Holyday. In November that year, Rev. Oris May joined the label as a A&R manager and regional sales and promotion manager. Soon afterwards in December, he was out promoting Larry Brinkley's newest single. Brinkley previously recorded rockabilly in the late 1950s and 1960s.

Although the label seemed to expand, there was one big problem for Holiday Inn. Many radio disc jockeys across the country would not play Holiday Inn records because in just saying the name "Holiday Inn" over the air amounted to free publicity for the motel chain and most if not all radio stations programmers refused to do so. The last record released on the label was by Gregg Todd and the Jacks in 1969.

KLONDIKE RECORDS - was a subsidiary of Holiday Inn Records. Holiday Inn Records was founded by D. Wayne Foster and Kemmons Wilson in 1961. At this time, D. Wayne Foster was Holiday Inn’s National Contract Sales Manager. The cause for the start of Holiday Inn Records was Foster’s discovery of a group named The Roller Coasters.



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 – 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.

His shop was frequented by black and white customers including disc jockey Dewey Phillips, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash. Cash recorded a song confirming ''you'll find me at the home of the blues'', and Cherry stood behind his old wooden counter with photographs of himself - as president of the local Variety Club - with Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Wilson and other entertainers. Not that Cherry was universally liked. Some described him as ''peculiar'' and writer Robert Gordon quotes Milton Pond from a rival record dealership, Poplar Tunes, saying: ''Lots of people didn't like Ruben. They thought he was pushy and too obnoxious. The main thing I remember about him, up by the cash register he had a nickel glued on the glass counter. He'd wait for somebody to try to pick it up, and when it wouldn't move he'd get the biggest kick out of that''. According to musician Jim Dickinson, ''Ruben kept this rubber rattlesnake behind the counter which he used to scare off would-be stickup men. When he held it, it really liked real. When it was not there one day, Cherry said ''that goddamn Elvis Presley, he came in here and stole my rubber snake and ran down Beale Street shaking it''. Guitarist Ronald Smith remembers, ''Ruben Cherry used to sell me records back when I was a kid, 1949 or so. He'd special order in guitar records for me by Chet Atkins. Ruben was kinda eccentric, a bit unusual. He'd chase people out of the shop, us kids. He jumped all over me one day for no reasons and I figured he'd confused me with Reggie Young who'd ordered a disc and not collected it''.

Ruben Cherry apparently had a deep interest in black music and many connections in Memphis and nationally. Eventually he decided to channel this interest into his own label, which was bankrolled by his mother's sister, Cella Goldstein, who had also started out in the delicatessen business before marrying Clarence Camp, owner of Southern Amusements a 628 Madison Avenue in Memphis. The path from jukebox and record dealing into label ownership was a familiar one in most US cities. In their edition of August 13, 1960 the Cash Box ran a story below a photograph of Cherry with rhythm and blues star Roy Brown: ''Memphis, Ten – Newly formed label, Home Of The Blues Co. has signed two artists to wax exclusively for it. HOTB execs Ruben Cherry, president, and Mrs. C.A. Camp, sectreasurer, are shown inking the contract with Roy Brown''. Brown opened the label with release number 107, after the address of Cherry's store, Cherry and Camp recorded a mix of established black performers, such as Brown and the Five Royales, and local singers associated with the Memphis club scene, like Willie Mitchell and Bowlegs Miller. The latter was a regular at the Flamingo Room, a club upstairs above Cherry's store. Willie Mitchell provided the studio band and from accounts by Mitchell and Jim Dickinson (who recorded there as Little Muddy) it seems that most of the earliest HOTB sessions were made at the Fernwood Records studio at 415 North Main Street. Roy Brown told John Broven: ''I did a few things for Home Of The Blues in Memphis in 1960. It was Willie Mitchell's band, he was quite a guy. It was just a small studio... near to radio WDIA... but the guy we had on my session was Scotty Moore who handled the session. And I had two things that went well, as a matter of fact we sold forty four thousand copies of ''Oh So Wonderful'' in Memphis alone, but the company didn't have (good) distribution outside of Memphis''.

Ruben Cherry and Celia Camp diversified in mid 1961 by setting up subsidiary labels to issue music produced and bankrolled by independent producers. The Zab, Rufus, Six-O-Six (named after the store address where Cherry lived as a child), and 1st Records labels were an effort to ring the changes. Mrs. Camp was wheeling and dealing in more than records: Billboard reported on May 22, 1961: ''Memphis: Mrs. Celia G. Camp has purchased the majority of the stock in Southern Amusement Company from her ex-husband... the largest phonograph and game operation in the mid-South... Camp began his coin machine empire in 1938, with Mrs. Camp's help. They founded Southern Distributing Company with Kenneth Wilson. Wilson has long since left the field and is now a multi-millionaire builder and president of Holiday Inns Inc... Mrs. Camp owns Music Systems Inc, 407 Madison Avenue, where her office is, a background music operation. Mrs. Camp also owns oil wells in Kentucky, Illinois, and Arkansas. A year ago she helped found HOTB record company and is secretary-treasurer of it. She has put up the money for its operation. They are hoping to become a hit-producing record company, have great hopes for the Five Royales they are recording''. These hopes soon met the reality of average sales figures, and Camp brought in her nephew, Wolf Lebowitz, a Memphis-born journalist and photographer, who hawked the label around the northern record business. By November 1961 Billboard was reporting: ''Chicago – Vee Jay president Ewart Abner has worked out an agreement with Ruben Cherry's label HOTB to distribute the latter's records. Future HOTB releases will be issued on Vee Jay with an additional emblem of HOTB''. Soon, the label would transfer this arrangement to ABC-Paramount Records and their Apt subsidiary.

Ruben Cherry's dream of a successful rhythm and blues label had collapsed through weight of competition from Hi, Stax and others, and his Home Of The Blues label closed. The record store continued to trade through the 1960s but Cherry died in January 1976, aged just 53, after 27 years in the record business.


JUDD RECORDS - was started by Jud Phillips, brother of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips. Early releases were mostly recorded in Nashville or Memphis, but carried an address of Memphis, New York and Florence, Phillips' hometown. Judd Records was named for its founder but the name was misspelled in the artwork of the label having two "D's. From Judd 1016 on, the label was pressed and distributed by National Recording Corporation, and the label sported the NRC logo and/or the words "National Recording Corporation - Atlanta, GA". According to Jud Phillips' son, NRC acquired the Judd label originally on a handshake deal.

Judd Record's biggest single was "Rockin' Little Angel" by Ray Smith, which topped out at number 22 on the Billboard charts. Another Judd artist who went on to score on other labels was Tommy Roe. Roe's initial recordings on Judd were originally released on Mark Four, a label produced by Roe's manager, Cleve Warnock, but recorded at the NRC Studios in Atlanta.

Arthur Alexander also released his first single on Judd "Sally Sue Brown''/''The Girl That Radiates That Charm" under his high-school nickname June Alexander. The only Judd album, Ray Smith's "Rockin' Little Angel", has been released on CD by NRC. Other Ray Smith single cuts have been released on CD by London-based Ace Records. NRC, Judd, and affiliated labels are owned and administered by Johnny Carter, president of National Recording Corporation.


KAY RECORDS – Located at WHBQ radio station located 279 North Main Street in Memphis. Four sides were recorded in 1958 by Charlie Feathers and Jody Chastain, but label owner Charlie Kahn evidently was not impressed with the results and subsequently didn’t release the two recorded singles until 1960. Jody Chastain was a member of Charlie Feather’s band who alternated between playing steel guitar and bass on this sessions.


KING RECORDS - was an American record label, started in 1943 by Syd Nathan and originally headquartered at 1540 Brewster Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio. It now operates as a reissue label for its past material. At first it specialized in country music, at the time still known as "hillbilly music''. King advertised, "If it's a King, It's a Hillbilly - If it's a Hillbilly, it's a King''. One of the label's most important hits was "I'm Using My Bible For A Road Map" by Reno and Smiley. Important recordings in this field were done by The Delmore Brothers and Wayne Raney featuring their close harmony vocals, harmonica, electric guitar and string band playing. The Delmores also did their country boogie material on this label which was a precursor to rockabilly. King ventured into the rockabilly genre and several King artists such as Bill Beach are in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Beach's song, "Peg Pants" also experienced success during the European resurgence of rockabilly in the late 1980s. Likewise, singer-pianist Moon Mullican recorded a country boogie style that was a precursor to piano-based rock and roll. Major country hits on the label included "I'll Sail My Ship Alone", "Blues Stay Away from Me", "Chew Tobacco Rag", "Eight More Miles To Louisville", "Sweeter Than The Flowers" and "Cherokee Boogie".

The company also had a "race records" (African American) label, Queen Records (which was melded into the King label within a year or two) and most notably (starting in 1950) Federal Records which launched the singing career of James Brown. In the 1950s, this side of the business outpaced the hillbilly recordings. King Records was highly successful after the hiring of Ralph Bass and recorded rhythm and blues artists like Joe Tex, Valerie Carr, Roy Brown, Jack Dupree, Otis Williams & the Charms, Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, Ivory Joe Hunter and Johnny "Guitar" Watson. They also had a long legal battle with James Brown, after he repeatedly violated his King contract. King also bought out several other record labels, including De Luxe Records (in 1952), and Bethlehem Records.

One of the most successful features of the label was its encouragement of the mixing of the country and rhythm and blues sides of the label. Many of the label's country singers such as Moon Mullican, Delmore Brothers, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Zeb Turner covered many of the label's rhythm and blues songs such as "Grandpa Stole My Baby", "Rocket |To The Moon", "Bloodshot Eyes", and "I Got Loaded". Also, some of the rhythm and blues artists also provided pure country songs such as Bubber Johnson's "Keep A Light In The Window For Me", which was recorded by Johnson and made famous by Moon Mullican. Likewise, rhythm and blues artists covered bluesy country artists' songs such as Wynonie Harris's covers of "Triflin' Woman Blues" and "Bloodshot Eyes".

During the 1950s, King also distributed their own line of portable phonographs. King Records was unique among the independent labels because the entire production process was done in house. That included recording, mastering, printing, pressing and shipping. This gave Nathan complete control so a record could be recorded one day, and shipped to radio stations the next day in quantities as few as 50. That explains why non-selling King records became so rare.

When Nathan died in 1968, King Records was acquired by Hal Neely's Starday Records and relaunched as Starday and King Records. The legendary songwriting duo Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller bought the label in 1970, but sold it soon afterwards to Lin Broadcasting which in turn sold it to Tennessee Recording and Publishing, owned by Freddy Bienstock, Hal Neely, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller; who sold it in 1974 to Gusto Records. In 1971, James Brown's recording contract and back catalogue were sold to Polydor Records. Since 2001, Collectables Records has been remastering and reissuing the King Records catalogue. Several compilation CD's are available featuring King Recording Artist, specifically "King Rockabilly", released in 2004. King Records is now only used as a record label under the parent company, Gusto Records.

The former King Records headquarters at 1540 Brewster Avenue in Cincinnati is still standing. It has an historical marker placed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

SYDNEY ''SYD'' NATHAN – was an American music business executive, who founded King Records, a leading independent record label, in 1943. He contributed to the development of country and western, rhythm and blues and rock and roll music, and is credited with discovering many prominent musicians, most notably James Brown whose first single "Please, Please, Please" was released on the subsidiary label Federal in 1956. Nathan was described as "One of the truly eccentric figures of the record industry... who ruled his label like a dictator... and constantly screamed and intimidated his artists and employees". He was posthumously inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, in the "non-performer" category, in 1997.

Syd Nathan was born on April 27, 1904 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He left school in the ninth grade, and suffered from poor eyesight and asthma. He played as a drummer in clubs, and spent his early adulthood working in a series of jobs in real estate, amusement parks, and pawn and jewelry stores. In the mid 1930s, with his sister and her husband, he opened a radio and phonograph store, before moving to Florida to be with his brother and open a photofinishing business. Nathan moved back to Cincinnati in the early 1940s, and opened a record store, Syd's Record Shop, initially selling used juke box records. In 1943 he started King Records; after it failed initially, he re-financed it with the support of family members. The label was originally intended to produce hillbilly records, but Nathan diversified when he discovered the demands of African American teenagers for what were then called "race records". Early records were pressed in Louisville but, because of their poor quality, Nathan set up his own record pressing plant in 1944 on the premises at 1540

Brewster Avenue in Cincinnati, home of King Records for the next 25 years. He also set up his own recording studio on site and made his own distribution arrangements across the Midwest rather than relying on national companies.

Nathan set up the Queen label to record rhythm and blues artists in 1945, but it was soon absorbed within the King label. Over the years, King assimilated many other smaller labels, including DeLuxe, and set up several subsidiaries such as Federal. The company's talent scouts found many future recording stars. Early signings to the King label or its subsidiaries included Bull Moose Jackson, Lucky Millinder, Tiny Bradshaw, Earl Bostic, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Wynonie Harris, The Dominoes, Little Willie John, Bill Doggett, and Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, whose song "Work With Me, Annie", was one of the label's biggest successes. Nathan successfully recorded country performers such as The Delmore Brothers, The Stanley Brothers, Moon Mullican, Cowboy Copas and Grandpa Jones, and also gospel singers. He actively encouraged white performers to record rhythm and blues songs, and vice versa, not as a deliberate attempt at integration but as a way of maximising his song publishing revenue. Nathan said: "We saw a need. Why should we go into all those towns and only sell to the hillbilly accounts? Why can't we sell a few more while we're there? So we got in the race business''.

According to his citation at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: "In the process of working with black rhythm and blues and white country artists, Nathan helped effect a cross-pollination of the two worlds, thereby helping lay the groundwork for the musical hybrid known as rock and roll''.

In 1956, talent scout Ralph Bass signed James Brown to King, and recorded "Please, Please, Please". Nathan reportedly commented at the time: "That's the worse piece of crap I've heard in my life. It's someone stuttering on a record only saying one word....". However, the record was a success. Although Nathan and Brown had a volatile relationship over the years, Brown later said of Nathan: "I would be telling a lie if I said I would be a world star without the help of men like Mr. Nathan. He was the first one willing to take a chance on me''. Brown continued to record for King, despite occasional lawsuits between the two and Nathan's initial refusal to fund Brown's album Live at the Apollo, recorded in 1962, which was one of his most successful and influential, reaching number 2 on the United States album chart.

King Records was noted as one of the first racially integrated companies in the United States record business, and as "one of the few recording companies to make a record from start to finish, all under one roof''. This gave the company a strong competitive edge, allowing songs to be recorded, pressed, and distributed within a week. By the 1960s, it had become the sixth largest record company in the United States and was responsible for over 250 hits on the rock, pop, rhythm and blues and country charts. However, King's impact declined in the 1960s, after Nathan was implicated in the payola scandal.

In addition to credits received in his own name, Nathan used the pseudonym Lois Mann for song publishing and copyrights in order to obtain a share of the songwriter royalties, as was common record company owner practice. "Syd Nathan", "Sydney Nathan", and "Lois Mann" are each credited with the same 202 song titles, including "Annie Had A Baby", "I'll Sail My Ship Alone", "Signed Sealed And Delivered", and "Train Kept A-Rollin'".

Nathan had longstanding health issues, and heart problems began to emerge during his fifties. He died of heart disease and complicated by pneumonia om March 5, 1968 in Miami, Florida at the age of 64. He was buried at the Judah Touro Cemetery in Cincinnati. Sydney ''Syd'' Nathan was posthumously inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, and the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2007.


METEOR RECORDS - Located at 1794 Chelsea Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, which was another self-contained entire recording studio and office, all under one roof, exists today physically currently in an industrial part of town. Meteor opened in 1952 by founders and owners the brother Lester and Jules Bihari. Meteor Records released some legendary recordings cut by Elmore James, Rufus Thomas, and Malcolm Yelvington among great others. Meteor was pickin'up Sun Records' rejects.

When Sun Studio would not put out Malcolm Yelvinton's follow-up recordings, he did what any true rockabilly cat would do: he slipped over to Meteor Records and recorded under the pseudonym "Mac Sales" to avoid his Sun contract. Charlie Feathers, another so-called "Sun reject", cut here by Meteor Records, the hiccuping classic "Tongue-tied Jill" here in 1956.

The label started in November of 1952 the first recording session for the new label took place and four sides were cut in just a half hour. Elmo (Elmore) James on (Meteor 5000) with The Broomdusters which included J.T. (Big Boy) Brown on tenor sax, Johnny Jones on piano, and Odie Payne on drums records "I Believe" / "I Held My baby Last Night". Bep Brown is on (Meteor 5001) with two sax instrumentals, "Round House Boogie" and "Kickin' The Blues Around". Carl Green is the performer on (Meteor 5002) with the tunes "My Best Friend" and "Four Years Seven Days".

In late February of 1953 Elmore James record in Chicago for the label. The result is "Baby What's Wrong" and "Sinful Woman" on (Meteor 5003). In May of that year a recording session is held in North Little Rock, Arkansas with a blues combo that includes Sunny Blair on harmonica, Baby Face Turner on guitar, Junior Brooks on bass, and Bill Rissell on drums. The result is (Meteor 5006), "Please Send My Baby Back" with Sunny Blair on vocal, and "Gonna Let You Go" with Baby Face Turner on vocal. Jimmy Wright did two sax instrumentals on (Meteor 5007), "Porky Pine" and "Scotch Mist".

Buster Smith recorded a blues version of the hit song "Crying In The Chapel" and it was coupled with "Leapin' in Chicago" on (Meteor 5010). In 1954 Al Smith recorded "Beale Street Stomp" and the swing era classic "Slidin' Home" on (Meteor 5013). The very first Meteor Records release that gets any airplay or sales outside the South is (Meteor 5016), a blistering instrumental that is listed on the label as by Sax Man Brown with Elmo James Broomdusters, but is in reality the combo of J.T. (Big Boy) Brown. "Saxony Boogie" gets a boost from Moondog Freed in New York and is the label's biggest seller. The flip side is a slow blues sung by Brown called "Dumb Woman Blues".

In 1955 Woodrow Adams & The Boogie Blues Blasters which include Joe Hill Louis on guitar, and Joe Martin on drums recorded "Wine Head Woman" and "Baby You Just Don't Know" on (Meteor 5018). "You Will Have To Pray" / "As Lonely As I Can Be" by Haward Swords is released on (Meteor 5019). A session with well known blues performer Andrew "Smokey" Hogg done in Los Angeles is released by Meteor on (Meteor 5021) (also on Crown 122) on the songs "I Declare" and "Dark Clouds". The last record issued by the label in 1955 is an attempt to duplicate their one big hit (Meteor 5016) and so Sax Man Brown & The Broomdusters record "Sax Symphonic Boogie". The flip side is "Flaming Blues".

By 1956 it is apparent that Southern based blues is not going to be a big sell among the growing teenage rock and roll market, but Meteor hangs in. Mary Edwards & The Saxons record "Chilly Willy" and "Uh Oh Mama" on (Meteor 5031). Later in the year the oddly named combo Minnie Thomas & Slim Waters Lagoons record "What Can The Matter Be?" and "I Know What You Need" on (Meteor 5036). "Standing On The Highway" and "My Last Mile" are recorded by Walter Miller on (Meteor 5037). Memphis radio personality and rhythm and blues performer Rufus Thomas records "The Easy Living Plan" and "I'm Holding On" on (Meteor 5039). Rhythm and blues stalwart Little Milton (Campbell) records "Let's Boogie Baby" and "Love At First Sight" on (Meteor 5040).

In 1957 the label is barely alive as the Bihari Brothers consolidate their labels in Los Angeles. The last issue by Meteor is (Meteor 5046) in late 1957. And so a bold experiment did not really work out for the Biharis, although they kept at it for five years. Their many successes with Modern, RPM, and Flair, gave them the opportunity to try and search out talent in the mid-South and have the recording facilities locally to produce the music. It did not succeed economically, but it remains a valiant effort as part of the story of the music.

Its amazing that the building of Meteor Records stands still today.

THE BIHARI BROTHERS - Lester, Jules, Saul and Joe, were American music entrepreneurs and the founders of Modern Records in Los Angeles and its subsidiaries such as Meteor Records based in Memphis, Tennessee

The brothers were of Hungarian Jewish descent. Their father, Edward Bihari (1882-1930), was born in Budapest and migrated to the United States. Their mother, Esther "Esti" Taub (1886-1950), was born in Homonna, Hungary (now Humenné, Slovakia). The pair weremarried in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States in 1911. There were also four sisters in the family.

The brothers were, Lester Louis Bihari born on May 12, 1912 in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and died on September 5, 1983 in Los Angeles. Julius Jeramiah Bihari born on September 9, 1913 in Pottstown, Pennsylvania and died on November 17, 1984 in Los Angeles. Saul Samuel Bihari born on March 9, 1918, in St. Louis, Missouri, and died on February 22, 1975. Joseph Bihari born on May 30, 1925 in Memphis, Tennessee, and died Los Angeles on November 28, 2013.

After living for a period in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Bihari family moved to Los Angeles in 1941. Jules got a job servicing and operating jukeboxes in the Watts district, and found difficulty in locating and stocking the blues records his customers wanted to hear.

With his younger brothers Saul and Joe, he decided to set up a new label, Modern Records in 1945. The brothers built Modern into a major blues and rhythm and blues label, their first success coming with "Swingin' the Boogie" by Hadda Brooks. They bought a pressing plant, and divided tasks among them equally, with Jules responsible for talent spotting and recording, Saul for manufacturing, and Lester for distribution. Joe worked with Ike Turner as a talent scout in the Memphis area, discovering Johnny "Guitar" Watson among others.

In the early 1950s the Biharis launched several subsidiaries, RPM Records, Flair Records and Meteor Records, which was set up in Memphis in 1952 and was headed by Lester Bihari. Successful artists on the Biharis' labels included B. B. King, Elmore James, John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Lightnin' Hopkins, Lowell Fulson, Rufus Thomas and Charlie Feathers.

The companies always remained small and personally run. B. B. King has said that he always  felt the brothers were accessible: "The company was never bigger than the artist. I could  always talk to them''. Later they launched more subsidiaries, Crown Records featuring artists  like Johnny Cole, Vic Damone, Trini Lopez with Johnny Torres, Jerry Cole, Dave Clark Five,  and United/Superior Records.
In the sixties they launched a subsidiary Yuletide Records, which specialized in Christmas records (mostly with Johnny Cole and the Robert Evans  Chorus).  In the mid 1960s Modern records went bankrupt and stopped operating, but the catalogue  went with the management into what would become Kent Records. After the deaths of Saul,  Lester and Jules Bihari, the labels' back catalogue was licensed to Ace Records (United Kingdom) in the mid 1980s, and then later purchased by them during the 1990s.
Though they were not songwriters, the Biharis often purchased or claimed co-authorship of  songs that appeared on their own labels, thus securing songwriting royalties for themselves,  in addition to their other sources of income. Sometimes these songs were older standards  renamed. B. B. King's rendition of "Rock Me Baby" was such a tune; anonymous jams, as with  "B. B.'s Boogie" or songs by employees, such as bandleader Vince Weaver. The Biharis used a  number of pseudonyms for songwriting credits: Jules was credited as Jules Taub; Joe as Joe  Josea; and Sam as Sam Ling. One song by John Lee Hooker, "Down Child" is solely credited to  "Taub", with Hooker receiving no credit for the song whatsoever. Another, "Turn Over A New  Leaf" is credited to Hooker and "Ling". Taub was the Biharis' mother's maiden name.
Commonly known among music circles but not publicly acknowledged is that Jules and the  Bihari brothers would effectively steal music from up and coming black artists by taking  advantage of the artists financial situation. The Bihari's would have their name added to  writing credits when they had nothing to do with the creation of the music in any way.
B. B. King has said: "The company I was with knew a lot of things they didn’t tell me, that I  didn’t learn about until later... Some of the songs I wrote, they added a name when I  copyrighted it,"..."Like 'King and Ling' or 'King and Josea.' There was no such thing as Ling,  or Josea. No such thing. That way, the company could claim half of your song.

METEOR - THE BURN OUT - The people who knew Lester Bihari in Memphis all agree on several things. He was a nice guy, he was a real personality, he was often drinking and broke, and he was always somewhat strange. He tried really hard to be a record producer, but he was no Joe Bihari or Sam Phillips. Lester was in the right place at the right time but he was unable to develop the careers of his artists.

What Lester did do was to capture the white working man's music of Memphis and its rural hinterland exactly as it was being played through 1954 to 1957 before television and the Interstate highways homogenised America. This music is real. It is unfettered and fresh. It is the reason why Meteor has subsequently become one of the most collectable of the independent record labels, commanding extraordinarily high prices whenever copies come up for sale.

Lester had financial problems. His distribution beyond the local area was mainly linked to his brothers' Modern network, which focused on rhythm and blues and blues. Lester didn't have the network of stores, jukeboxes, and radio play to successfully self country and rockabilly music outside the mid-South. Apart from ''Daydreamin''', none of the mid-1950s Meteor saw much chart action. Many received good trade paper reviews, and it seems that the Junior Thompson and Charlie Feathers singles went into decent second pressings and did quite well over a period of time. While many of the white Meteors sizzled musically, they fizzled out commercial.

Sales of black music on Meteor had been good right at the start, and in Lester's last two years in Memphis he resumed issuing blues and rhythm and blues - perhaps because Sam Phillips had almost stopped recording black music and more of the talent was looking in his direction. Local recordings included those by Rufus Thomas, Little Milton, Fention Robinson, and the Del Rios, a group that included the young William Bell. It is likely that Rufus Thomas, in his local disc jockey mode, acted as a conduit for talent at that time.

Meteor's demise was reported in Cash Box in May 1957. Just one more, fluke, record would appear, by Minnesota rock and roller Steve Carl, who bought in his own excellent demo recordings after being rejected by Sun. From non-functioning equipment to snakes in the control room, Steve was unimpressed by what he found at Meteor, although an enthusiastic Lester promised big things, including an LP release. With his demos being of a quality far above anything that Carl could envisage recording at Meteor, he agreed to leave the tape of six songs. His guitarist returned in mid-1958; Lester Bihari was still there and filled a request to re-press the band's record. Just how long Bihari remained in Memphis after that is not exactly known, but Jim O'Neil reports that he became a sales representative for his brothers' Crown budget LP label around the time that Meteor folded, first in Memphis and then in Texas. Frank Scott found him back on the West Coast in the stockroom when he visited the Kent/Modern offices in 1969. Lester Bihari, who was born on May 12, 1914 in Philadelphia, died on September 5, 1983 in Los Angeles.

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