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  1. #1

    Black-owned record companies in the 60s and 70s

    In another thread, the subject of Sussex Records came up, and it was mentioned that Clarance Avant owned it. I never knew that. Cool! A Black record company, and it never gets mentioned as such. All you ever hear about is Motown and P.I.R..

    It got me wondering: besides the following, what were some other Black owned record companies in the 60s and 70s? Starting in 1972, Stax owner and founder Jim Stewart entered into a partnership with Al Bell.

    Vee-Jay
    Philadelphia International (Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff)
    T-Neck (Isley Brothers, the company was absorbed into CBS, Inc. in 1984)
    Sussex (Clarance Avant)
    Tabu (Clarance Avant)
    Motown (Berry Gordy sold it in 1988 to Boston Ventures/MCA)
    Gamble (Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff)
    Curtom (Curtis Mayfield)
    Philly Groove (Stan Wilson, Thom Bell, Kenny Bell)
    Paisley Park (Prince)
    American Recording Company (Maurice White)
    Sugarhill (Sylvia and Joe Robinson)
    All-Platinum (Sylvia and Joe Robinson)
    Hot Wax/Invictus (Eddie Holland, Lamont Dosier, Brian Holland)

    What else? There were tons of them in the 60s and early 70s before the majors realized how much money there was in soul music.
    Last edited by soulster; 07-01-2013 at 12:24 AM.

  2. #2
    Great question, I have to say, soulster. Eventually virtually all black owned companies were
    swallowed up by either Motown and/or thw white owned ones. That's America...Anyway,
    two other ones that stood out to me were Revilot where George Clinton's Parliaments made
    their first recordings and Calla...I'll try to think of others...

  3. #3
    SUE RECORDS OWNED BY JUGGY MURRAY before he sold it to United Artists/EMI ; VEE JAY OWNED BY CALVIN & VIVIAN CARTER

  4. #4
    Don't forget the legendary Bobby Robinson, who owned or co-owned labels like Red Robin, Fire, Fury and Enjoy. Bobby's glory years were definitely in the 50s, but he did have hits in the sixties with the likes of "Every Beat of My Heart" by Gladys Knight and the Pips, "Need Your Lovin'" by Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford and "Soul Twist" by King Curtis.
    Last edited by Nothing But Soul; 07-01-2013 at 04:57 AM.

  5. #5
    Are there any left?

    Or should the question be.............are there any small ones?

    Or are there thousands, each trying to flog a CD or two?

    There doesn't seem to be all that much left of the big ones even.

  6. #6
    It seems that Vee-Jay co-owner Randy Woods went on to own Mirwood/Mira records in L.A. so presumably they can be added to the list...

    http://www.bsnpubs.com/veejay/veejay...onalstory.html

    Roger

  7. #7
    Nat Tarnopol was a Jewish white guy...

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    Nat Tarnopol was a Jewish white guy...
    I'll fix that...

  9. #9
    What about labels James Brown founded, like Try Me Records and People Records.

  10. #10
    Another one .. Arctic records .. owned by D.J. JIMMY BISHOP ..

    http://www.broadcastpioneers.com/bp9/wdas1971.html

    http://www.bsnpubs.com/philadelphia/jamie/arctic.html

    Roger

  11. #11
    Uncle.Jam Records owned by George Clinton and his manager Archie Ivy and Hump Records which released It's Too Funky In Here and Hydraulic Pump.

  12. #12
    Golden World/Ric Tic records in Detroit. Owned by Ed Wingate and Joanne Bratton.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Kamasu_Jr View Post
    SUE RECORDS OWNED BY JUGGY MURRAY before he sold it to United Artists/EMI ; VEE JAY OWNED BY CALVIN & VIVIAN CARTER
    Vee-Jay was founded in Gary, Indiana, in 1953 by Vivian Carter and James C. Bracken, a husband-and-wife team who used their initials for the label’s name.

    Just wanted to clear that up.

  14. #14
    Really too many to list-there were hundreds-just in Chicago and Detroit alone (I won't even bother with New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, Atlanta, New Orleans, other Southern cities. I don't have time. To pay someone to compile such a list would cost a fortune in labour time.


    Johnnie Mae Matthews
    Northern, Northern-Del-La, Reel, Big Hit, Audrey

    Diamond Jim Riley
    Diamond Jim, Big D, Riley's

    Wilbur Golden
    Correc-Tone, SonBert (together with Robert Bateman and Sonny Sanders)

    Herman Griffin
    Hit, Hit Sound

    Don Davis
    DaCo, Thelma, GeGe (with Robert and Hazel Coleman), Groovesville, Groove City(with LeBaron Taylor)Revilot, Solid Hit

    Popcorn Wylie
    Soulhawk, Pamline, HIB

    Dave Hamilton
    Temple, TLC, Topper,

    Ollie McLaughlin
    Ruth, Karen, Carla, Moira

    Ewart Abner
    Constellation (with Bill "Bunky" Sheppard)

    Bill "Bunky" Sheppard
    Bunky

    Carmen Murphy
    House of Beauty(HOB),Spartan, Soul, Starmaker

    Mike Hanks
    MAH's, D-Town, Wheelsville USA, Wheel City, MRC

    Juggy Murry
    Sue, Symbol, Crackerjack, Juggy

    Bob Catron
    (with Bill Ehrman)Cortland, Witch, Katron

    Eddie Thomas
    Thomas

    Chuck Colbert Sr., Chuck Colbert, Jr.
    Tip Top, Nike, Jive, Chapel

    Gwen Gordy, "Roquel" Billy Davis
    Anna

    Gwen Gordy, Harvey Fuqua
    Tri-Phi, Harvey, HPC, Message
    Vivian Carter, Jimmy Bracken, Ewart Abner
    Vee Jay, Abner, Tollie, Vivid, J-V, Exodus

    Robert West
    Flick, Bumble Bee, Contour, Lu Pine,

    Leaner Brothers
    One-derful, Mar-V-Lus, M-Pac

    I could go on for hours with just Detroit and Chicago owners-but I haven't the time.
    Last edited by robb_k; 07-18-2013 at 02:28 AM.

  15. #15
    Doesn't anyone know even one more of the hundreds of Black-owned record companies of the '60s and '70s? I spent over 45 minutes adding to this list, and it just died. I was the kiss of death.

  16. #16
    Honestly, robb k, I am finding it very very hard to believe that there ever were literally
    "hundreds" of black owned record companies in America at anytime and I've never seen
    any evidence of it. Are you sure you don't mean something else?...

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by splanky View Post
    Honestly, robb k, I am finding it very very hard to believe that there ever were literally
    "hundreds" of black owned record companies in America at anytime and I've never seen
    any evidence of it. Are you sure you don't mean something else?...
    I suspect that Robb is correct Splanky, a lot of successful (or merely aspiring) singers, producers and songwriters thought that the next step in their career was to start their own record label.

    For example ...
    GENE CHANDLER had "Mr Chand" (SIMTEC & WILLIE) and "Bamboo" (MEL & TIM).
    JAMES BROWN has already been mentioned.
    WILLIAM BELL had "Peachtree".
    ISAAC HAYES had "H.B.S." (Hot Buttered Soul).
    OTIS REDDING had "Jotis".

    And I'm sure there are a whole lot more ...

    Most of these ventures didn't last long or were distributed nationally/internationally by larger companies and so it wasn't always obvious which was the original label.

    Roger

  18. #18
    Okay Roger, well then I guess for me it's a matter of semantics and a question of what are
    all of the logistics of individual labels. For instance under the umbrella of Motown Records
    there were individual labels Tamla, Gordy, Soul,etc but they more or less used the same stable of house musicians (The Funk Brothers,i.e) backing vocalists (The Andantes) and teams of writers (HDH, The Corporation, Strong and Whitfield,etc). I'm wondering how much
    autonomy those "hundreds" of black labels had...

  19. #19
    The Robinsons , (Sylvia and Joe)
    Turbo ,Stang , All Platinum, Sugarhill

    SOUL TRAIN Records--Dick Griffy and Don Cornilious
    SOLAR--Dick Griffy

    Neptune-Gamble and Huff

    Philly Groove-- Stan Watson (The Man)
    Last edited by daddyacey; 07-22-2013 at 08:36 PM.

  20. #20
    A few off the top of my head:
    Barry White – Unlimited Gold
    Stevie Wonder – Wondirection
    Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis – Perspective
    Ray Charles – Tangerine
    War - Lax

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by splanky View Post
    Honestly, robb k, I am finding it very very hard to believe that there ever were literally
    "hundreds" of black owned record companies in America at anytime and I've never seen
    any evidence of it. Are you sure you don't mean something else?...
    Well, there were certainly hundreds of Black owned record labels. A lot of them operated out of a house, and didn´t have but 0,1, or 2 employees. Maybe you wouldn't consider them "companies", but they were "labels".

  22. #22
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    Bobby and Danny Robinson in New York City (Harlem), owned Robin/Red Robin, Holiday, Everlast, Vest, Fury, Fire, Enjoy and Fling Records, and were partners with Jerry Blaine in Whirlin' Disc Records.

    Joshie Armstead and Mel Collins owned Chicago's Giant, Globe and Gamma Records.

    Ric Williams owned Chicago's Zodiac and Aquarius Records.

    Raynoma Liles/Gordy/Singleton and Eddie Singleton owned D.C.'s Shrine Records.

    Cleveland Brown player, Jim Brown was co-owner of Way-Out and Big Jim Records.

    New York Giant players, Rosie Grier and Roosevelt Brown owned Tac-Ful Records.

    Lawyer, Johnny Cochran owned Phelectron Records in L.A.

    Flash Records was owned by an owner of a camera shop and record shop in South Central Los Angeles, in the '50s. There were many, many small, Black-owned labels in New York, Chicago , Detroit, Los Angeles.

    Randy Wood, who co-owned VJ in 1965-66, was Caucasian.
    Last edited by robb_k; 05-17-2016 at 09:53 PM.

  23. #23
    More great information! Thank you Robb!!!

  24. #24
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    Dootsie Williams -Dootone/Dooto, Authentic
    John Dolphin - Recorded in Hollywood, Lucky, Cash, Money, Ball, Jerk, Ten Star, Wife co-owned Call Me
    Sam Cooke & J. W. Alexander - SAR, Derby
    Sidney Barnes - Shee
    Cassius Clay - Sonji
    Carl Jones (Chicago) - C.J., Colt, Firma, Capri
    Al Benson (Chicago DJ) - Parrot, Blue Lake, Crash, Glow Star, Mica, The Blues
    Richard Pegue (Chicago DJ) - Penny, Nickel, Janis,
    Jack Daniels - Bright Star, 4 Brothers, Jadan, Hit Sound (Chicago), Chi-City
    Leo Austell (Chicago) - Renee, Sta-Set, Conduc, Mar-Jan
    Ruth Moore (Chicago) - Lu-Cee, Vick
    Sonny Thompson (Chicago) - Knight, Pink Cloud
    Sebons Foster (Chicago) - Nation, Nation Time, Salem
    Syl Johnson - Twinight
    Jack Ashford & Lorraine Chandler - Ashford, Sepia, maybe part owners in Detroit's Giant (not to be confused with Joshie Armstead's Chicago label of that name).
    Abner Spector (NY/Boston) - Tuff
    Zell Sanders & Abner Spector (NY) - J & S
    Zell Sanders alone - Zell's, Sprout
    Al Jackson (Det.) - Al-Jack
    Gino Washington - Washpan, Atac, Perfecta, and co-owned Amon
    Arthur Abney (Det.) - Dynamics
    Leon Rene - Excelsior, Exclusive, Class, Spry Records
    Herman Griffith (L.A. DJ) - Joker
    Eugene Dozier - Flaming Arrow
    Bill Cosby - Tetragrammaton (co-owner)
    Bunny Jones (NY) - Bunny, Big Bunny, Master
    Romeo Taylor (Det. , L.A.) - Me-O
    Joe Von Battle (Det.) - JVB, Von, Battle
    Ernest Kelly (Det. , NY) - Geneva
    Hank & Dusty Wilson (Det.) - Zebra, Bronse
    Charles Stokes (Det.) - Cha-Tok, Mas-Tok
    Preston Carnes - Astra
    Fred Brown (Det.) - Kable
    Theoda Moore (Det.) - Theoda

    I could easily die before finishing this list!
    Last edited by robb_k; 05-25-2016 at 09:10 PM.

  25. #25
    incredible!!!

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    incredible!!!
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    What we've listed so far has barely scratched the surface.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    What we've listed so far has barely scratched the surface.
    Now I am starting to wonder . What the heck happened to all of those businesses?

  28. #28
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    Most of them never had a chance to do well. The distributors almost never paid them, unless they had two giant major hits in a row. They were still doing that in the early 89s, and never paid us (Airwave) a penny despite our Delia Renee record selling over 200,000. The only cash we ever took in was direct sales in dance clubs, and upfront fees from selling foreign rights.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    Most of them never had a chance to do well. The distributors almost never paid them, unless they had two giant major hits in a row. They were still doing that in the early 89s, and never paid us (Airwave) a penny despite our Delia Renee record selling over 200,000. The only cash we ever took in was direct sales in dance clubs, and upfront fees from selling foreign rights.
    Oh that is terrible. I thought at least the labels made a little bit of money, the artists not so much. I guess now I have a great appreciation of what Barney Ales did at Motown. Thank you Robb.

  30. #30
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    Gene Redd, Jr.
    Redd, Stephanye, co-owned 2nd Stephanye with Ed Wingate, Redd Coach
    Several labels in New Orleans owned by Alain Toussaint

  31. #31
    Terrific info Robb, I agree about 100s and could add a lot. The Randy Wood who owned Mirwood was black, the one who owned Dot was white. Also I saw on another site that you reckoned Spry was owned by Leon René and presumably Cenco. Is there any evidence on that?

  32. #32
    There were many small, local record companies spread throughout the U.S. in those days. I believe there were a few even in Toledo.

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by jobeterob View Post
    Are there any left?

    Or should the question be.............are there any small ones?

    Or are there thousands, each trying to flog a CD or two?

    There doesn't seem to be all that much left of the big ones even.
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    There are literally thousands you didn't mention. I would die before I could finish listing them. I know literally hundreds in Chicago, L.A., New York, Detroit, each, alone. There ARE many other big ones. But, I haven't got time to mention them now.

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by ady_croasdell View Post
    Terrific info Robb, I agree about 100s and could add a lot. The Randy Wood who owned Mirwood was black, the one who owned Dot was white. Also I saw on another site that you reckoned Spry was owned by Leon René and presumably Cenco. Is there any evidence on that?
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    I was probably wrong about Cenco.For Spry, I think he may have been a co-owner. But have no concrete evidence.

    Wasn't the guy who owned Ranwood and managed VJ's L.A. office the White guy from Tennessee, who had previously owned Dot Records? Did the Black Randy Wood, Mirwood owner own any other labels other than Mira, and any other Keymen-distributed L.A. labels?
    Last edited by robb_k; 10-11-2019 at 01:47 PM.

  35. #35
    Anyone mention Thelma Records? Mr. and Mrs. Robert Coleman.Great people.

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by ady_croasdell View Post
    Terrific info Robb, I agree about 100s and could add a lot. The Randy Wood who owned Mirwood was black, the one who owned Dot was white. Also I saw on another site that you reckoned Spry was owned by Leon René and presumably Cenco. Is there any evidence on that?
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    I knew Cenco was just owned by Gradney. I thought Spry might have been co-owned by Gradney and Rene because of Gradney's use of Class Music, and the fact that Gradney had released records on Johnny Moore's Blazers and Roy Milton, both of whom had also been recorded by Rene. But, now I realise that Class was just Gradney's, because Rene never used "Class Music", - only Class Records, as a label.

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