Air Week: June 1-7, 2020

King Records, Pt. 1: Queen Records

This week, we begin a multi-part feature on the great King Record Label, out of Cincinnati. Syd Nathan, who began putting out records under the King logo in 1943, developed King as a hillbilly music label. After a rough start, he relaunched King in 1944 with investment from his various family members. As King began to make a dent in the hillbilly field, he recognized that it would be more cost effective to offer other musical genres to clients who were already buying the hillbilly music from him. Not wanting to confuse King’s intention to be a hillbilly label, Nathan launched a rhythm & blues subsidiary that he named Queen Records. Nathan admitted that he did not have an ear for R&B, so he bought at least one third of the Queen releases from other producers, most notably, African American producer Mayo Williams. Queen only scored one national R&B hit during its 2 years of existence, Bull Moose Jackson’s “I Know Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well” in 1946. By mid-1947, Syd Nathan felt that King had properly established itself as a hillbilly label and now he was comfortable going after other genres with King. There was no need for Queen Records any longer, so he closed the subsidiary and moved many of Queen’s artists over to King. Now King would take on the R&B market and prove super successful at it. Matt The Cat digs up Queen’s finest releases this week as we feature part 1 of King Records. So drop a nickel in for Bull Moose and let’s go!