A month-long celebration and commemoration of the legacy of King Records is being launched on Friday, Aug. 30, in Evanston, the city neighborhood where the historic recording label was born.
September marks the 70th anniversary of the birth of King Records, and Xavier’s Community Building Institute is helping to sponsor the month-long tribute, beginning with a free reception at the Evanston Recreation Center from 4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m., where the public can learn more about King Records and the proposed King Studios.
King Records is the Cincinnati-based recording label founded by Syd Nathan, who after his early death in 1968 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 1997. During its 30 years in business, the studio released recordings that tread into some taboo territory, working with both white country music and bluegrass as well as black rhythm and blues performing artists, including James Brown, The Stanley Brothers, Hank Ballard, Tiny Bradshaw and Wynonie Harris. That combination of genres is credited for laying the foundation for the development of Rock & Roll.
Attention to the label’s legacy has grown recently, and hardcore music fans in Cincinnati have proclaimed the importance of the King label’s historical impact on American music. The original building still stands in Evanston, and Xavier has coordinated the development of plans for salvaging the name and the building's façade with the creation of a new King Studios in the neighborhood.
King Studios is to be located on Montgomery Road in Evanston near Xavier’s campus and will include interactive displays about King Records’ history, a recording studio that can be used by local musicians to record and where others can learn about recording, and also a community arts center providing visual art classes. Property acquisition for the studio space is underway.
King Records Month is being celebrated with events throughout the city, from musical performances and fundraisers to radio shows and art displays. The reception in Evanston on Friday, Aug. 30, is being followed by performances by local musicians and an art exhibit, Royal Plastics: King Records Album Art, featuring vintage King album covers, from 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine.
On Saturday, Aug. 31, at 7:00 p.m., The Playhouse in the Park in Mount Adams presents a reading of a new play about the label and its founder. And all during September, Everybody’s Records in Pleasant Ridge and Shake It Records in Northside are offering deals on King releases.