September Celebrates 70 Year Legacy of King Records in Cincinnati.


This September marks the 70th anniversary of the first songs recorded for the Cincinnati label, King Records. In September 1943 Syd Nathan convinced two WLW radio performers, Grandpa Jones and Merle Travis, to go along with his latest brainstorm - a record company based in Cincinnati. This four-song session would lead to King Records producing nearly 30 years of music in all genres while based out of the Queen City.  September will be a month long celebration, honoring the founding of Syd’s company, and its contribution to American music, with events planned for every weekend. Over a dozen events include concerts, displays, author visits, album listening parties, radio shows, and even a chance to buy your own King vinyl or compact discs at a discounted price.

  • Friday, August 30th  The official launch of King Records Month will take place in Evanston, the neighborhood that was the headquarters for King Records and the future site for King Studios, an experiential learning partnership between the Evanston community and Xavier University. Reception at Evanston Recreation Center from 4 to 7pm. Program includes a King Records photo display, and informal presentations on King. Free and open to the public.
  • Friday, August 30th   Royal Plastics: King Records Album Art -   Opening on Final Friday, at MOTR Pub in Over-The- Rhine. Reception 6-8pm. This exhibit features vintage King Records album covers along with “reshots” by local photographers John Curley and Michael Wilson. This homage to King’s album cover art features 15 local Cincinnati musicians including Bobby Mackey, Buggs Tha Rocka, Jake Speed, and legendary King drummer, Philip Paul.  On display till September 26th
  • Saturday, August 31st   Cincinnati King. The Playhouse in the Park in Mount Adams will host a free reading of a new play by Kj Sanchez about Cincinnati music pioneer Syd Nathan and King Records. Cincinnati King is a “theatrical album” of stories about the history of Cincinnati music, racial equality and the legendary rhythm and blues label.  7pm in the Thompson Shelterhouse. More information here:
  • Sunday September1st   Starting on first of the month, two Cincinnati record stores will be offering month-long specials on King music. Everybody’s Records in Pleasant Ridge will have a display of specially-priced King and Federal CDs for the whole month of September. Shake It Records in Northside will be offering 10 percent off any King-related item bought in September.  
  • Saturday, September 7th Susan Whitall, author of the book Little Willie John : a Fast Life, Mysterious Death and the Birth of Soul  will be speaking about this amazing King artist at the Main Branch of Cincinnati Public Library at 3:30 pm in Genealogy & Local History Program Space – 3rd Floor.
  • Saturday, September 7th   WVXU FM 91.7 will rebroadcast the first episode of its 2007 four part award-winning series on King Records at 11pm. The series features music and interviews with music historians and King alumni. The other three parts will air on the following Saturdays of September—Sept 14, Sept 21, and Sept 28 at 11pm.
  • Sunday, September 8th   From 7 to 8pm radio show Music from the Hills of Home on WNKU  89.7 FM will feature an hour of bluegrass music recorded at King Records

  • Wednesday, September 11th Main Branch of Cincinnati Public Library Music series, Listen to This, will feature the  album – James Brown Live at the Apollo – released on King in 1963,  50 years ago. The program starts at 7pm in the Popular Library Lounge on the first floor.

  • Saturday, September 14th  RJ Smith,  author of The One: The Life and Music of James Brown will be doing a presentation on  one of greatest music icons in history at the Main Branch of Cincinnati Public Library at 3:30 pm in Genealogy and Local History Program Space on the third floor

  • Sunday, September 15th  King Studios’ Educational Program Benefit Concert – 6-11pm at MOTR Pub in OTR . Be part of the first ever King Records fundraiser.  All donations will go to the King Studios Traveling Suitcase, an educational toolkit that will use replica artifacts, music technology, and lesson plans based on Ohio’s common core standards to tell the King Records story. Pay what you can at the door but donations over $20 lands you a first print of the King Records t-shirt.  Featured performers will be Ricky Nye, Cheryl Renee, Magnolia Mountain, and The Sundresses.

  • Friday, Sept 20th and Saturday, Sept 21st  For two nights, Barrence Whitfield & the Savages (see recent US Today article) will be bringing their limitless energy, frenzied performances, and full throttle soul screaming in the spirit of Little Richard, Wilson Pickett, and Screamin Jay Hawkins to MOTR Pub.  The band will pay tribute to King records by playing a selection of King tunes, talking about how King influenced their sound and tearing it up w/ their original material. Special guests will appear on both nights and DJ Bryan Dilisizian will play King Records 45’s before, between and after sets. MOTR PUB at 9pm in OTR.  21+

  • Sunday, September 22nd At the Comet Bar in Northside at 7pm, the Comet Bluegrass All Stars will do a tribute to King’s Bluegrass artists. Disc Jockey Brian Hellmann will be spinning King Records songs on this day from 11-2pm during the Comet’s Sunday brunch. The Comet Bar will also be loading up its jukebox with King Records compact discs for King Record Month.

  • Wednesday, September 25th  Main Branch of Cincinnati Public Library music series, Listen to This, will feature the 1958 album, This is Otis Williams and the Charms , in honor of the 60thanniverary of Otis Williams’ first recordings done at King Records in 1953.

  • Saturday, September 28th   Following the Reds game, there will be a free concert by the Legendary Otis Williams and Charms at 8pm at the event stage at Smale Park, across from the Reds ballpark and next to the Moerlein Lager House at the Banks. Otis Williams, a Walnut Hills native, had many hits in the 1950s and is perhaps the last R & B King star still alive and performing. During the show there will be an attempt to break the record for the World Largest Twist Dance. The song “The Twist” was first recorded in Evanston at King by its composer Hank Ballard in 1958, 55 years ago.

  • Sunday, September 29th   Starting on this day, Shake It  Records in Northside is proud to share a selection of King items that they've collected over the years from promotional photos, unreleased acetates, press materials, fanclub items, postcards, inter-office memos, newspaper clippings, court documents, bio labels, a King Phonograph Player and much more.  The items will be on display till the end of November.



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