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Episode #527 – King Records, Pt. 2: 1947-48

Air Week: June 8-14, 2020

King Records, Pt. 2: 1947-48

This week, it’s part 2 of a multi-part feature on the great King Record Label, out of Cincinnati. Syd Nathan, who began putting out records under the King logo in 1943, developed King as a hillbilly music label. After a rough start, he relaunched King in 1944 with investment from his various family members. As King began to make a dent in the hillbilly field, he recognized that it would be more cost effective to offer other musical genres to clients who were already buying the hillbilly music from him. Not wanting to confuse King’s intention to be a hillbilly label, Nathan launched a rhythm & blues subsidiary that he named Queen Records. By 1947, King had fully established itself as a hillbilly label, so Nathan felt it was time to take on the R&B market and so he folded the Queen label into King and moved many of the R&B artist over to the parent label. King kicked off 1948 with a #1 smash with Bull Moose Jackson’s, “I Love You, Yes I Do.” Jackson would score a 2nd #1 later in the year with “i Can’t Go On With Out You.” Wynonie Harris also put up big numbers in 1948 with the chart-topper, “Good Rockin’ Tonight” and Ivory Joe Hunter scored several top 10 records for King that year. The King roster was full of veteran artists from jazzer Todd Rhodes to bluesman Lonnie Johnson, who’s version of “Tomorrow Night” also topped the charts for King. So get your hands on some nickels as we salute King Records with part 2: 1947-48. 

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