Timeline

1938

1938

Syd Nathan opens a record shop on West Fifth Street in Cincinnati’s West End, intending to sell pop records.  He ends up being stocked with old jukebox records of “hillbilly,” western, and “race” music, which sell like hotcakes.

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1943

Nathan decides to make a record with Merle Travis and Grandpa Jones. Since the artists are under contract with WLW, the gang travels up to Dayton and records them as “The Sheppard Brothers.”  On the drive back, they dub the new company “the King of them all.”

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1944

1944

Nathan rents out an old chemical plant on 1540 Brewster Avenue in Evanston, Cincinnati.  This becomes the business offices and pressing plant of King Records, and the icehouse next door will become the company’s recording studio.

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1945

The subsidiary label “Queen Records” is established specifically to publish black artists and R&B music.  Two years later, Queen is abandoned and these black artists are published through the King label.

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1947

Ben Siegel is hired as King’s personnel manager.  He implements a policy of nondiscrimination and integration of workers by race and gender.

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1954

King’s output increases in volume and variety.  The company issues Wynonie Harris’s “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” which could be considered the first rock ‘n roll recording, as well as coming up with influential songs like “Fever” and “The Twist,” which will be covered for years to come.

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1956

1956

An upstart performer from Georgia begins recording at the studio.  Although Syd Nathan hates his sound at first, he will become the company’s biggest star.  His name is James Brown.

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1968

Nathan passes away at the age of sixty-four.  Several months later, King is sold to Starday Records in Nashville

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