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Rip It Up: The Specialty Records Story (RPM Series) Paperback – November 5, 2019
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Launched by legendary music industry executive Art Rupe in the mid-1940s, the Los Angeles-based Specialty Records emerged as one of the most important independent labels for African-American music in the twentieth century. Recognizing that competing with major record companies was a losing battle, Rupe headed to Central Avenue, the center of L.A.’s black community, where he spent $200 on what were then known as “race records.” He carefully analyzed each, developing his own formula for a successful venture. Soon, Specialty was scoring R&B hits with artists such as Roy Milton, Camille Howard, Jimmy and Joe Liggins, and Percy Mayfield. Drawn to the music of New Orleans, Rupe went on to sign Lloyd Price, who topped the charts with “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” It was through Price that Specialty acquired its best-known artist, Little Richard. After “Tutti Frutti” exploded in 1955, Richard and the label scored a string of successes with “Long Tall Sally,” “Lucille,” “Keep A Knockin’,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” and more. In addition to R&B and the emerging sounds of rock ’n’ roll, Rupe was particularly drawn to the sounds of the church. Black gospel music was an essential element of his company, with a roster that included stars of the genre, such as Sam Cooke’s Soul Stirrers, Sister Wynona Carr, Brother Joe May, Alex Bradford and the Bradford Specials, and others. From behind-the-scenes producers Robert “Bumps” Blackwell, J.W. Alexander, Harold Battiste, and Sonny Bono, to R&B recording stars Floyd Dixon, Guitar Slim, Jesse Belvin, Larry Williams, and Don and Dewey, this is the story of the legendary Specialty Records.
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About the Author
Art Rupe is a pioneering music industry executive and record producer. He launched Specialty Records, noted for its rhythm and blues, blues, gospel, and early rock and roll music recordings, in Los Angeles in 1946. Billy Vera is a singer, songwriter, actor, record producer, and music historian who wrote and recorded “At This Moment,” which was a #1 hit in 1987. He won a 2013 Grammy award for his notes for the Ray Charles Box set, Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles, and he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Vera’s other books include his memoir, Harlem to Hollywood; Vintage Neon: Los Angeles, 1979; and his forthcoming novel, A Dollop of Toothpaste.
- Publisher : BMG Books; None edition (November 5, 2019)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 177 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1947026364
- ISBN-13 : 978-1947026360
- Item Weight : 11 ounces
- Dimensions : 7 x 0.6 x 7 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #267,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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4.5 out of 5
56 global ratings
Top reviews from the United States
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on August 19, 2020
This is a great read, especially for baby boomers who grew up with rock and roll. Billy Vera knows his subject well. He practically grew up with some of the people in this book. There's lots of anecdotes and stories about musicians that wrote and recorded songs we all loved but never knew much about the people who made them. Absolutely fascinating. Loved it!
3 people found this helpful
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on June 22, 2020
If you are interested in a narrative of artists who recorded for Specialty, then you may like this book. But it gives zero flavor or insight into what was surely a fascinating period in early rock music recording. I read the whole book but spent most of my time being bored by it.
2 people found this helpful