King Records was the pioneering independent American record company that first signed James Brown in 1955 through its Federal Records subsidiary. King also recorded and manufactured music by Earl Bostic, Bill Doggett, The 5 Royales, and Little Willie John. It also specialized in “hillbilly records,” early country music similar in content but different in style to rhythm and blues.
King Records was a vertically integrated manufacturing and distribution company with a bevvy of family investors. They used their own studios to record, had their own pressing plant for cranking out product, their own printing press to make labels, they even manufactured their own boxes and sleeves. On top of that, they had their own distributors and promotion men stationed in various markets throughout the country selling the product..
King didn’t need to go through independent distributors like Henry Stone because they built their own national salesforce. Later, the overhead on doing business that way got to be too much. But for a long time it worked extremely well.
The Miami branch of King Records was run by Marvin Novak, who became a close friend of Henry Stone.
here’s what Henry had to say about King Records in Miami:
“Marvin Novak, Marvin Novak, Marvin Novak, hahaha, quite a character, man. I spent a lot of time with him. His nickname was Falsie. That was a name I guess he picked up growing up with Syd Nathan and his clan. He was Syd Nathan’s boy.
The actual story is that Syd Nathan’s family sort of adopted him in Cinncinnatti, and he ended upp like working for Syd. I was associated with him because my De Luxe label was part of King Records.
The last time I saw him was about ten years ago at the track. I don’t know if he’s still alive.”
“We actually had our offices next door to each other when I was on SW 8th street and 12th Avenue. The King Records branch was right next door to me.
I started working with King records in 1954. I had a huge hit record on the DeLuxe label through King. I don’t know if youre familiar with that, Hearts of Stone, well that was me, that was the first million selling record that crossed over into the pop charts from the r&b charts on Billboard.”
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