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Episode #533 – King Records, Pt. 8: 1954-56

Air Week: July 20-26, 2020

King Records, Pt. 8: 1954-56

This week, it’s part 8 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 seeing the sales potential in the Rhythm & Blues market, Nathan launched the Queen Records subsidiary in 1945, but folded it into King in 1947 and transferred his R&B acts over. King established itself in the R&B field with Bull Moose Jackson, Ivory Joe Hunter, Wynonie Harris and Lonnie Johnson all scoring enormous hit records. This week in part 8, we take a look at King’s spectacular releases during 1954-56. The first 2 years were a dry time for hit records at King, but in 1956, the label came roaring back with major hits from Little Willie John and Bill Doggett, who scored his first hit since 1945. “Honk Tonk” was the biggest R&B record of the year and it reestablished Doggett, who would have several more hits on King extending to 1959. Vocal Groups were big during this time as Rock n’ Roll was being born and King was there with The Checkers, The Ink Spots, The Admirals, The Dominoes and The “5” Royales. This will be the final part of the series on King. Next week, we’ll take a look at King’s highly successful R&B subsidiary label, Federal Records. Matt The Cat makes sure you don’t miss a beat on this week’s “Juke In The Back.” 

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