by Steven Rosen
Posted In: Visual Art
at 11:26 AM | Permalink
Powers, the Cincinnati librarian who has done exhaustive work researching King
Records history, thought he had found a “Holy Grail” photo — of the West End
record store that Syd Nathan owned before starting King.
He knew it
had been on Central Avenue, but didn’t know what it looked like.
It was in
the Hebrew Union College/Skirball Museum FotoFocus-connected exhibit Documenting Cincinnati’s Neighborhoods,
which features George Rosenthal’s photographs, taken in the late 1950s, of the
West End before I-75 construction would dramatically alter it. Rosenthal’s
photographs, owned by Cincinnati Museum Center, hadn’t been shown at least in
50 years, if ever.
the exhibit’s opening day, Oct. 22, Powers saw one Rosenthal photo of a Central
Avenue record store at 1567 Central Ave. Just a small storefront with a homey
screen-door, it had what looked like neon signs that announced “Records All
Speeds” and then listed the choices: Spirituals, Classics, Pops, Rhythm-Blues,
Bop, Hillbilly & Western.
also partially see some letters and the initials “CO” at the top of the signs. Some
additional written information was on a window, and another sign offered television
sets for $29. Nathan wouldn’t have still owned such a store in this time period
— he started King in 1943 — but might it have carried on the same location,
more or less unchanged, with someone else in charge?
Henry Rosenthal, the late George’s son, about his hunch. And in his opening
remarks, Henry mentioned it. Henry was particularly proud because he owns the
desk that James Brown kept at King Records’ headquarters in Evanston. “It’s my
prize possession,” he said.
Among the Rosenthal family members at the opening, besides
Henry, were Jean Rosenthal Bloch, George’s wife; daughter Julie Baker; George S. Rosenthal and Roger Baker,
George’s grandsons; great-grandson Clay Baker, and cousin Ed Rosenthal. With
several hundred in attendance, it was an important moment in recognizing
Alas, when Powers (who didn’t attend the reception) later started
researching, he saw the record store in this photo wasn’t where Nathan’s was
“Syd’s shop was at 1351 Central Ave.,” he said via E-mail.
“The shop in the photo is at 1567 Central. It was called Mo-F-A Co. It’s listed
as a TV repair shop. It was owned by a guy named Ted Savage, who seemed to have
lived there with his wife.
“It looks like Syd handed over his store to Ike Klayman around
1945 to 1946. I don’t see 1351 Central listed after 1949. It may have been torn
down by then. It’s where Taft football field is now.”
Powers added that he has seen a photo of a record store
owned by Klayman, but believes it is at a different location
So the search for a photo of Nathan’s record store goes
on, but meanwhile this very evocative one is now — finally — available to be
The exhibit, which looks at what life in Cincinnati was
like in the West End and Downtown before much was torn down for controversial
“urban renewal” from the 1960s to 1980s, both in terms of their architecture
and the conditions of the poor, also features powerful photos by Daniel
Ransohoff and Ben Rosen.
It is up through Dec. 21 at the Skirball and Jacob Rader
Marcus Center on the HUC campus, 3010 Clifton Ave. Go here for details.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:45 AM | Permalink
you're a theater fan looking for something to do this weekend, you've
probably realized that the Labor Day holiday is not overflowing with
options. In fact, many theater companies are gathering their strength as
they prepare for shows that open next week.
there is one good choice available: a show about the King. No, it's not
an Elvis piece. It's about Cincinnati's own King Records, the recording
label that made history here in the 1940s and 1950s, launching the
careers of many early pop stars, including James Brown. Syd Nathan, a
Cincinnati native, launched his independent label in 1943, and for two
decades he and his employees did it all in house — recording, mastering,
printing, pressing and shipping the music that King produced. (Nathan
was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.)
this revolutionary enterprise — which employed blacks and whites in one
of our city's first integrated businesses — is CINCINNATI KING, a
kind of documentary theater piece based on interviews with people who
remember the business and the music. KJ Sanchez, one of the Cincinnati
Playhouse's artistic associates, has pulled this material together for a
90-minute reading that's offered one time, on Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. (Read more in Harper Lee's feature story in this week's issue of CityBeat here.)
No charge for admission, but seating is limited in the Playhouse's Shelterhouse Theater, so reservations are required: 513-421-3888. It's sure to be a full house, so call in advance.
New play chronicles the life and legacy of Syd Nathan and King Records
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Earlier this year, dozens of volunteers
roamed Cincinnati, haunting record stores, clubs and coffee shops. The
group was seeking stories about King Records, the legendary record label
that made its home here in the Queen City.
John Hartley Fox's new book looks at the history of King Records
0 Comments · Tuesday, October 20, 2009
As Jon Hartley Fox made his scheduled appearance at a Books by the Banks event at the Duke Energy Center Oct. 17, the many years the Dayton native had spent writing the just-published 'King of the Queen City: The Story of King Records' had finally paid off. This book was a daunting task.