“Pee Wee Crayton was on Modern Records. Modern Records was run by very good friends of mine from California, the Bihari brothers. Jules, Saul and Jo Bihari. I started with them when I first got out of the army in California. I started out with the Bihari Brothers by selling records out of the back of my car at the train stations and on Central Avenue in Watts. They had the original BB King. BB King was on Modern Records.
Before I did that I was working for Ben Pollack from Jewel Records. That’s where I started in 1946 or 47. After I got out of the Army, I moved to California and I went to work for Ben Pollock. I did A&R, I did one of the first Mel Torme sessions when he was 17 years old. I did some stuff with Kay Starr I remember. I did everything, till I walked in with Charles Brown and Ben Pollack threw me out cause he “Didn’t want any niggers on his label.” I got mad as hell and he threw me out. So I brought Charles Brown to Aladdin Records and he became a big star over there with songs like “Merry Christmas Baby.” That label was run by the Mesner brothers. Eddie, Leo, and Ira Mesner. The Mesner boys. They had a real recawd shop, man.
New York was full of indies too. Scepter Records, Wand Records, Jubilee Records. A lot of independent records. In those early years, in the early years, say from 1950 on, I mean originally there were 3 major record companies. There was Columbia records, and RCA records. Capitol Records didn’t start up until about 1947 when I was in California. They became the third major label. And after that came up all these independent record companies and each one would come up with a hit record. I distributed each label so I would walk in to sell my records as a distributor and I’d walk in with 100 different hits.
I had one on Miracle, I had one on, Savoy, Bullet, Peacock, Chess, Aladdin, Mercury, Jubilee, Roulette, Miracle, Star, Modern…I could go on and on and on yknow.”
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