The Origins of The Rockin’ and Glory 78rpm Record Labels
Rockin’ and Glory are the first two Miami record labels founded by Henry Stone.
These labels began operating as early as 1950 in very limited runs, but began officially releasing records with matrix numbers in 1952.
The Rockin’ and Glory labels specialized in r&b and gospel music respectively, as well as pure blues, and some bluegrass as well. The labels topped discs manufactured in the 78rpm format that served as the foundation for the jukebox era.
Through Henry Stone’s remarkable ear for talent and pioneering distribution capabilities these labels can still be found in the dusty 78rpm sections of record stores like Amoeba in Los Angeles even today.
They are also regularly traded, bought, and sold by collectors all over the internet.
Artists who recorded for Henry Stone and released through his Rockin’ label include Ray Charles, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Earl Hooker, John Lee Hooker, Wilbert Harrison, and blues unknowns like W.C. Baker, who was a singer/songwriter/guitar player who also worked as a shipping clerk for Stone’s record distribution company.
Many of the gospel label Glory’s artists are not well known by name, but represent an epochal period of indie recording history in America, the genesis of the Christian music genre, that is to say independently recorded, manufactured, and distributed Christian music, which has achieved such popularity today. Glory Records was the label for choral groups like The Spiritual Harmonizers, The Miami Soul Stirrers, and preachers like Reverend A Johnson, who delivered sanctified truth in the form of song.
Gospel and r&b go hand in hand, as one is effectively a version of and informs the other. For the early indie distributors and label manufacturers like Henry Stone, this meant that there was a viable nationwide market for each style of product.
By 1953, the labels were fully established and generating national attention in the form of articles in Billboard and Cashbox Magazines.
Just check out the above piece from a February 14th, 1953 Column in BILLBOARD Magazine. It Reads
“Henry Stone, Stone Distributors returned from an extended business swing thru the South and North, promoting numbers on his Rockin’ label. Stone reports a wave of general prosperity thruout the states he visited. Miami’s crying need, he believes, is more industry to give jobs to the many thousands who want to live here.”
And just months later, Stone’s Rockin’ and Glory were again generating national attention. This time, for singing up new distributors around the country.
A Billboard article from April 11, 1953, says, “Henry Stone, who formerly operated Stone’s Distributors, is now strictly a record manufacturer. He returned recently from a nationwide trip during which he signed 30 distributors for his Glory and Rockin’ labels. Stone says his newest spiritual, “God Don’t Like It,” on the Glory label, bids fair to become an outstanding success. Local music operator Murray Gross says it is already the hottest number on his route.”
In 1953 Henry Stone formed the Crystal Recording Corporation with Syd Nathan of Cincinnati’s King Records. This was part of their partnership in the DeLuxe Records label, a King subsidiary that would draw from Rockin’ and Glory masters as well as newly cut sides through the Crystal Recording enterprise. Henry Stone leased select masters up to Nathan for release on DeLuxe and King Records as noted in the book King Of The Queen City by Jon Hartley Fox.
However, after an argument between Stone and Nathan over record profits after the label’s million selling “Hearts of Stone” by Otis Williams and The Charms, a lawsuit in New York state, and an amicable settlement between the two parties, Billboard noted that the enterprise was dissolved and masters reverted to Stone.
VIA BILLBOARD MAGAZINE DEC 10TH, 1955 PAGE 22
NEW YORK, DEC 3 –
The article reads, “A partnership involving Henry Stone and the De Luxe Records firm was dissolved this week in an amicable settlement. Mutually owned properties were divided between Stone and the King Subsidiary, and Stone is reported to have received some cash considerations.
Approximately 200 copyrights which had been deposited in King’s Lois Music have been divided equally between Lois and Stone’s new Sherlyn Music pubbery. Both firms are affiliated with Broadcast Music, Inc.
Stone and Chart Records headquarters are in Miami.”
The settlement firmly placed all of Stone’s Rockin’ and Glory masters under his own Sherlyn publishing.
And if there was any doubt as to the chain of title for Rockin’ and Glory works today, one need look no further than the ruling of Judge Adalberto Jordan of the Southern District Court of Florida for the case of Henry Stone Music vs Ray Charles in which Henry Stone Music is found to be the rightful owner of its copyright protected works dating back to the work-for-hire arrangement Henry Stone established with the unknown musician who would become one of the greatest stars the world has ever known.
In fact, all of Stone’s Rockin and Glory masters were produced under these conditions. It was an era when local musical talent could be persuaded to perform for a studio recording with no other compensation than cash up-front and the chance to hear their voice on the radio. For the performers, it was an opportunity, and for Henry Stone it was a gamble. The artists were unknown.
It is then a testament to Stone’s ear for talent and distribution know-how that these recordings survive today.