MOE ASCH

Moe Asch was a strong-minded label owner who released music from all over the world and from many minority ethnicities. Managing his Folkways catalogue he refused to delete any album, saying “Just because the letter J is less popular than the letter S, you don’t delete it from the dictionary.” He also said “The real…

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CHRIS ALBERTSON

Chris Albertson is a writer, broadcaster and record producer whose work in Jazz and Blues, especially in his interviews with leading figures, has opened a window on the character of the people that have made the music great. His knowledgeable and unsentimental approach allows real insight to emerge from the hype, and his biography of…

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ART RUPE

Specialty Records was one of the independent labels that made the West coast a new and fast-growing source of Blues music after WWII. Owner Art Rupe was an extremely ‘hands on’ in running the company, discovering artists and repertoire, producing records, supervising the pressing plant and setting up his own national distribution network. After a…

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SAM CHARTERS

When Sam Charters was eight years old, he heard Bessie Smith‘s ‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out’: it opened his eyes and ears, starting his quest to spread the word about the Blues and black culture in general. Sam’s work as a musicologist, record producer and especially his Grammy winning book, ‘The Country…

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AHMET ERTEGUN

As the founder and President of Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegun was a powerful force in establishing R&B music in the ‘crossover’ market during the 50s and 60s. A talented producer and songwriter, Ahmet made Atlantic the most exciting and forward looking label of the time, and perhaps his greatest asset was his ability to recognise…

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SAM PHILLIPS

Radio engineer Sam Phillips was so convinced of the quality of the musical talent he was hearing around Beale Street in Memphis in the years just after WWII, he was inspired to set up his own recording studio. Some legendary Blues artists made their first records there, including arguably the first ‘Rock’n’Roll’ record. Sam commented…

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DON ROBEY

Don Robey was the owner of the Peacock, Duke and BackBeat labels that released some important R&B records in the 50s and were also the home of some of the best Gospel artists of the day. He was a tough man to deal with and made a lot of money by giving himself co-writing credits…

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LEW CHUDD

Lew Chudd was one of the most prominent label owners of the 50s, who promoted the idea of cultural diversity not only by recording black artists, but by hiring black executives too. Always a shrewd businessman, he oversaw the recording career of Fats Domino during the period that made him a world star, and pioneered…

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JOHN DOPYERA (National Steel Guitar)

It is impossible to picture Son House without a National Steel guitar in his hands. This iconic instrument was favoured by many Blues players for its loud ringing tone that could penetrate down the street or across a big room. In the days before amplification, a guitar that could penetrate across a noisy crowd was…

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COSIMO MATASSA

Cosimo Matassa was a pioneer of rocking New Orleans R&B, who produced the revolutionary sounds that made the everybody dance in the early 50s. Working from a tiny studio, Cosimo developed a bass and drum-heavy sound, with light horns and prominent vocals and piano, that propelled several local boys onto the world stage. Studio owners…

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