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Episode #657 – Down Beat Records

Air Week: December 5-11, 2022

Down Beat Records

This week, “Juke In The Back” focuses on Down Beat Records, another of the early, small, independent R&B record labels. Afro-American businessman Jack Lauderdale founded the label in Los Angeles in 1947, after working the market as a small distributer. He built a roster of artists along with aquiring the rights to masters from other little labels that were going out of business. He could cut costs by reissuing those sides with better distribution than the original labels had. Right off the bat, he had jazz tenor great, Lucky Thompson and a very promising young bluesman, Lowell Fulson. Soon, Jay McShann’s group would be Down Beat’s house band and McShann would bring his current vocalist, Jimmy Witherspoon with him. Throw in a few seldom heard bluesmen; Felix Gross and Sylvester Mike and the legendary team of Joe Turner and Pete Johnson and you’ve got the building blocks for a spectacular R&B record label. Lauderdale was fortunate enough to discover and record a young Ray Charles and his group, The Maxim Trio. Their, “Confession Blues” hit #2 in the spring of 1949, giving Down Beat a tremendous hit record. In October, Lauderdale was forced to rename the label after DownBeat, the popular jazz magazine, threatened a lawsuit. In a future “Juke In The Back,” Matt The Cat will explore Lauderdale’s Swing Beat and Swing Time record labels, but this week we focus on where it all began with Down Beat Records.


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