Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Roc... and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy New
  • List Price: $30.00
  • Save: $3.00 (10%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 4 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by
Gift-wrap available.
Add to Cart
Want it Monday, April 21? Order within and choose One-Day Shipping at checkout. Details
Trade in your item
Get a $3.83
Gift Card.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more

Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock 'n' Roll Pioneers (Music in American Life) Paperback

See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from Collectible from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$27.00 $21.35

Frequently Bought Together

Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock 'n' Roll Pioneers (Music in American Life) + King of the Queen City: The Story of King Records (Music in American Life) + King Records of Cincinnati (Images of America)
Price for all three: $66.62

Buy the selected items together


Looking for the Audiobook Edition?
Tell us that you'd like this title to be produced as an audiobook, and we'll alert our colleagues at If you are the author or rights holder, let Audible help you produce the audiobook: Learn more at

Product Details

  • Series: Music in American Life
  • Paperback: 584 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1st edition (January 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 025207727X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252077272
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 6.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #871,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A consultant to the U.K.s Ace Records, Broven (Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans) has followed rock and R&B closely for more than half a century. Covering the convoluted history of the recording industry from the 1940s to the 1960s, he combines in-depth archival research with fascinating anecdotes about chart-toppers, shady characters and label owners (the ultimate risk takers). To survey the situations that turned Tin Pan Alley topsy-turvy and spawned the post-WWII rise of the low-budget indie labels, Broven begins with the symbiotic relationship of jukebox distributors, DJs and record retailers. He conducted 100 interviews, including with key industry figures: Marshall Chess (Chess Records), Sam Phillips (Sun), Jerry Wexler (Atlantic) and George Avakian (Columbia). Yet he does not ignore lesser-known players such as Mimi Trepel, the unseen heroine of rock n roll, who witnessed the social upheavals in music as she went from Brooklyn radio to head of foreign distribution for London Records. The impact of conniving entrepreneurs on the musicians and the layering of rich details and digressive detours as Broven traces the transition from R&B to rock make this equal to Roger D. Kinkles massive, four-volume Complete Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Jazz. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Broven ... keeps the text moving right along, his fill-in facts and explanations welcome, his segues from interviewees' words to his own smooth and easy.  The author clearly loves the music and holds the achievements of the record people in high regard, but he stays level-headed and avoids overpraising his heroes."--Downbeat

"A fascinating new book about the early independent labels of rock 'n' roll underscores again the central role that radio played in turning rock 'n' roll into the musical language of modern American popular culture. Record Makers and Breakers ... is a rich and engaging history of those early years, largely told through the words of the smart guys, hustlers and Runyonesque characters who shaped them." --New York Daily News

"Broven has put together a detailed and engrossing study of the independent record labels of the 1940s-70s. . . . An outstanding and important study that goes well beyond comparable predecessors; highly recommended."--Library Journal (starred review)


More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 17 customer reviews
So this book is filled with those rare birds, fresh information and new insight.
paul vernon
The author knows his stuff and most of it came right from the horses mouth....the people in the business who lived it and were in the know.
Wesley A. Smith
It's really quite a fascinating read and I would recommend this book highly to anyone who is interested in the history of music.
J. Stone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By popjoe&irv on March 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
John Broven's groundbreaking book, Record Makers and Breakers, meticulously and colorfully traces the history of the men (mostly) who created the independent record labels which spawned the careers of Elvis Presley, Muddy Waters, Fats Domino, Little Richard and a myriad of other r&r pioneers. If it weren't for these clever and ambitious music hustlers, it's doubtful that there would have been the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, not to mention hundreds of other later groups. They were inspired by the now legendary sounds crated by these little known entrepreneurs in New York, L.A., Memphis and Chicago.

Broven combines fascinating excerpts from years of interviews with these record giants with an equally compelling historical background. The vintage photos are alone worth the modest price of this extremely well-researched book...they document an important era in American popular culture and one which has largely disappeared. Any one with more than just a passing interest in the history and origins or rock 'n roll and certainly every avid record collector should buy this book. It's a real national exaggeration.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Anthony L. Wilkinson on June 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
It has been a while coming but this book, the third by John Broven, is well worth the wait. John's previous two books are `Walking To New Orleans' (American title `Rhythm & Blues In New Orleans') and the definitive and not bettered history of swamp pop music `South To Louisiana'. However, with his latest achievement, he has come up with a masterpiece, literally the holy grail of the story of the `backroom boys' in the formative days of rock `n' roll music.

This is the story of the people who, whilst not sharing the same degree of limelight as the performers, nevertheless played a crucial role in the launch of rock `n' roll in its formative years and then who aided its continued existence, despite the efforts of the main establishment. To say that they were key important people is an understatement. This could have been a dry and sleep inducing story but, as related by the author, it consistently retains spontaneity and the interest never flags. Indeed, it is a hard to put down journey once commenced.

John Broven has, over the course of time, interviewed the key players such as Ahmet Ertegun and Miriam Bienstock of Atlantic Records, Sam Phillips of Sun Records, Joe Bihari of Modern records and Art Rupe of Specialty Records to name but a few. Indeed, the interview with Ahmet is thought to be the last he gave prior to his unfortunate demise. But that is not all, as John has talked to such as disc jockies/promoters like Bill `Hoss' Allen of WLAC, Nashville, songwriters like Paul Evans, recording engineers such as Cosimo Matassa, music publishers Gene Goodman and Freddy Bienstock. On top of this, also considered are distributors, one-stop and juke box operators.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael L. Slavin on May 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author obviously has been minutely familiar withn the subject for years. He has meticulously and exhaustively put together an almost encyclopedic book, with appendices, coming to almost 600 pages. Therein lies my slight problem with awarding the work 5 stars as have the other reviewers. It's, for me, almost overwhelmingly too much to absorb. There are so many people described and so many anecdotes related it can almost cause brain shutdown. That's not to suggest that the book should have been condensed or edited down. But, I consider readability to be an important factor. And,to me, at least I found this not too particularly reader friendly, from the perspective of getting to the finish line. In my view a book may have good original research and fine general content. But if the pages are hard to turn it loses something. Further, let me say this, that the topic very much interests me. Particularly going back to the late 40's-mid 50's r&b. But getting thru this book was almost like plowing thru a mathematics text. Nevertheless, I willed myself to keep reading till I was finished. The author traces the business from the early days of 78rpm records to the 45rpm breakthru and introduction of the long playing record. It tells how early on the juke box operators very much controlled things. Then the small independent labels and record pressers came into play. Many of them started and run by entrepreneurial eastern european Jews. Those were the days when there were small record stores on almost every corner many of them having much influence with their customers. Some even had live dj's playing on the air from the premises. Some had recording studios in back rooms on site. We even learn that Jesse Jackson was trying to stir up the racial pot against Chess Records.Read more ›
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Seth A. Schwartz on May 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Probably for as long as anyone still cares about its subject, John Broven's book will remain the definitive study of the independent labels that gave rise to rhythm & blues and rock & roll.

RECORD MAKERS AND BREAKERS draws upon a vast trove of careful research and is written in a concise but lively style; throughout its 400-plus pages, Broven effectively "connects the dots" between the performers, songwriters, label entrepreneurs, pressing plants, publishing houses, and radio DJs that comprised the fervid indie-label scene, especially in the crucial period 1945-1960. I thought I knew a lot about this field already but this book introduced me (in absorbing detail) to a number of significant but little-remembered figures ranging from Clark Galehouse of Golden Crest Records to Sir Edward Lewis, founder of Decca Records UK. Bravo, Broven!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Product Images from Customers

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?