A powerful slice of music history was celebrated during a weekend gala honoring the 75-year heritage of iconic music label King Records and the legendary artists and musicians it worked with. “Celebrate the King” paid tribute to the label best known for launching the career of James Brown on Saturday night, August 25th at Cincinnati’s century-old Memorial Hall performance venue. The star-studded event featured a rare and special appearance by Brown’s backup singers, the Sisters of Righteous.
The evening was highlighted by Lifetime Achievement Awards given to those involved with King Records’ meteoric rise and who still carry on the label’s history including:
- Famed Funk Bass Player and member of Parliament/Funkadleic, Bootsy Collins
- Versatile Music Executive, Henry Glover
- King Records’ House Drummer, Phillip Paul
- Doo-Wop Star, Otis Williams
Operating from 1943 to 1971 in Cincinnati, Ohio, King Records went on to become one of the most influential and largest record labels in the country, as well as one of the first racially integrated labels lauded for the diversity of its roster. The label boasted such recording stars as country music’s Grandpa Jones and Merle Travis; bluegrass artists, The Stanley Brothers; R&B and funk artists James Brown, Otis Williams and the Charms, The Famous Flames, The Midnighters, Bill Doggett, Little Willie John, Hank Ballard, Bootsy Collins; and many more.
“King Records recorded the world’s first funk song; co-mingled black and white artists on all genres of music, offered the first jobs to Japanese-Americans post-war and so much more. It really revolutionized the music world and it’s a legacy we can’t forget,” said event organizer Jason Snell. “The gala was quite a night of stories and performances, a gathering of musicians and artists and a reunion of King Records family and friends.”
A portion of the funds from the gala’s ticket sales will help to restore the King Records building, named a historical landmark in 2009.