Artwork Rupe, influential early rock recording government, has died at 104 : NPR


One explicit of the pioneering businessmen on the rear of rock ‘n’ roll has died. Artwork Rupe established Specialty Information, the label that launched the occupations of Tiny Richard and Sam Cooke and helped make R&B most popular with white audiences. Rupe died Friday at age 104. NPR society correspondent Anastasia Tsioulcas has this remembrance.

ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS, BYLINE: Artwork Rupe was inducted into the Rock & Roll Corridor of Fame in 2011 for encouraging to kind the sound of rock ‘n’ roll and for signing artists like Minor Richard.


Tiny RICHARD: (Singing) Wop bop a bathroom bop a lop bom bom. Tutti Frutti, oh, rootie. Tutti Frutti, oh, rootie.

TSIOULCAS: Paintings Rupe was born right into a doing work-course kinfolk in Pittsburgh in 1917. His father was a Jewish immigrant from Galicia in Jap Europe. However he skilled stars in his eyes and established out for Los Angeles in 1939 to function within the movie enterprise. When that did not pan out, he switched greater than to the songs enterprise enterprise. That wasn’t straightforward, both. He invested in a label named Atlas Info, however they may not make a strike, even with Nat King Cole on the roster.

(SOUNDBITE OF Track, “Obtained A PENNY?”)

NAT KING COLE: (Singing) Obtained a penny, Benny? I obtained to phone to Jenny. And I simply purchased, simply purchased 4 cents to my identify. Obtained a penny, Benny?

TSIOULCAS: Rupe quickly decided to construct his have file label, Jukebox, to develop the viewers for so-named race information, which have been being recordings made by Black musicians for Black listeners. Rupe researched the very best-advertising race paperwork assiduously to find out out what was in style and noticed there was probably funds to be inbuilt bringing these artists to a white public.

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Rupe wound up leaving Jukebox instantly after a fallout along with his companions and rapidly launched one more label, Specialty Data. The first No. 1 strike for Specialty arrived in 1950 with “Pink Champagne” by Joe Liggins & The Honeydrippers.


JOE LIGGINS AND THE HONEYDRIPPERS: (Singing) Pink Champagne that stole my recognize from me. Pink Champagne stole my get pleasure from from me.

TSIOULCAS: Rupe signed quite a few bounce blues, R&B and gospel artists, together with the Soul Stirrers. And he realized that the Soul Stirrers’ lead singer, a youthful gentleman named Sam Cooke, skilled potential as a breakout pop artist. He and producer Bumps Blackwell recorded Cooke performing a secular pop monitor underneath the pseudonym Dale Prepare dinner to be able to not alienate gospel lovers.


SAM COOKE: (Singing) She’s lovable, my, my feminine. She’s so lovable. Sweet’s candy…

TSIOULCAS: Rupe disliked the success and allow every Cooke and Blackwell go away Specialty with all their recordings from that session. 1 of the opposite tracks they recorded grew to turn out to be Sam Cooke’s preliminary huge pop hit, “You Ship Me.”

By 1960, Rupe had grown upset with the machinations of the music enterprise enterprise and considerably with the virtually endemic follow of payola, labels shelling out off DJs to get pleasure from their music and thereby generate hits. The label went dormant by the cease of that decade. And in 1990, he supplied Specialty’s catalog to Fantasy Paperwork, which in the end grew to become facet of Harmony Info.

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Even previous the Sam Cooke circumstance, Rupe didn’t usually hit the mark as an A&R man. Although on tour in England in 1963, Small Richard phoned him to say he was on a invoice with the band that Rupe simply needed to hear. Rupe wasn’t fascinated. That group was the Beatles.

Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR Info, New York.


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