King Records (United States)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

King Records is an American record label, started in 1943 by Syd Nathan and headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. At first it specialized in country music, at the time still known as "hillbilly music." King advertised, "If it's a King, It's a Hillbilly -- If it's a Hillbilly, it's a King." One of the labels most important hits was "I'm Using My Bible for a Road Map" by Reno and Smiley.

The company also had a "Race Records" (African American) label, Queen Records (which was melded into the King label within a year or two) and most notably (starting in 1950) Federal Records which launched the singing career of James Brown. In the 1950s, this side of the business outpaced the hillbilly recordings. King Records was highly successful after the hiring of Ralph Bass and recorded R&B artists like Valerie Carr, Roy Brown, Jack Dupree, Otis Williams & the Charms, Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, Ivory Joe Hunter and Johnny Guitar Watson. They also had a long legal battle with James Brown, after he repeatedly violated his King contract.

King also bought out several other record labels, including Deluxe Records (in 1952), and Bethlehem Records.

When Nathan died in 1968, King Records was acquired by Hal Neely's Starday Records and relaunched as 'Starday and King Records'. The legendary songwriting duo Leiber & Stoller bought the label in 1970, but sold it soon afterwards to Lin Broadcasting which in turn sold it to Tennessee Recording & Publishing, owned by Freddy Bienstock, Hal Neely, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller; who sold it in 1974 to Gusto Records. In 1971, James Brown's recording contract and back catalogue were sold to Polydor Records.

Since 2001, Collectables Records has been remastering and reissuing the King Records catalogue. King Records is now only used as a record label under the parent company, Gusto Records.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "King Records (United States)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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