Synopses & Reviews
"Fox first made his case for Cincinnati-based King Records as 'the most important record company in the United States between the years of 1945 and 1960' in a series of public radio documentaries in 1986; those original interviews are an important foundation of this history, with much supplementary research added. There's much to be said for the label's legacy: in addition to introducing James Brown to listeners, King had stars in several popular genres, pioneered the introduction of R&B songs to the country music repertoire before Sam Phillips at Sun and may even have released the first rock and roll record (Wynonie Harris's 'Good Rockin' Tonight') in 1948. Unfortunately, though loaded with great stories, Fox has some difficulty getting into gear. Instead of telling a straight chronological account, he organizes the King story around personalities, beginning with the company's founder, Syd Nathan; each subject's history is then tracked forward past their King years, forcing Fox to continually circle back and pick things up again. Some repetition creeps in a story about how much Nathan hated Brown's first single is told on three separate occasions. Still, his account gives us a much needed glimpse of an underappreciated pop culture institution. 23 photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
King of the Queen City is the first comprehensive history of King Records, one of the most influential independent record companies in the history of American music. Founded by businessman Sydney Nathan in the mid-1940s, this small outsider record company in Cincinnati, Ohio, attracted a diverse roster of artists, including James Brown, the Stanley Brothers, Grandpa Jones, Redd Foxx, Earl Bostic, Bill Doggett, Ike Turner, Roy Brown, Freddie King, Eddie Vinson, and Johnny andquot;Guitarandquot; Watson. While other record companies concentrated on one style of music, King was active in virtually all genres of vernacular American music, from blues and R and B to rockabilly, bluegrass, western swing, and country.
A progressive company in a reactionary time, King was led by an interracial creative and executive staff that redefined the face and voice of American music as well as the way it was recorded and sold. Drawing on personal interviews, research in newspapers and periodicals, and deep access to the King archives, Jon Hartley Fox weaves together the elements of King's success, focusing on the dynamic personalities of the artists, producers, and key executives such as Syd Nathan, Henry Glover, and Ralph Bass. The book also includes a foreword by legendary guitarist, singer, and songwriter Dave Alvin.
From James Brown to the Stanley Brothers, the story of the glory years of a pioneering independent American record company
About the Author
Jon Hartley Fox writes about music and the arts in Sacramento, California. He wrote, produced, and narrated "King of the Queen City: the Story of King Records," a series of sixty-minute documentaries for National Public Radio in the 1980s.