February 27, 2024


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Art Rupe, Specialty Records Founder Who Helped Shape Rock, Dead at 104


Art Rupe, founder of the trailblazing R&B label Specialty Records that released early classics by artists like Minor Richard, Sam Cooke and Lloyd Price, has died at the age of 104.

The Arthur N. Rupe Foundation declared his death Friday, including that Rupe died at his home in Santa Barbara, California. No trigger of loss of life was presented.

As founder and producer at the Los Angeles-primarily based Specialty Information, Rupe oversaw a label that was accountable for tunes that laid the bedrock for rock n’ roll: Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,” Price’s “Lawdy Miss out on Clawdy,” Guitar Slim’s “The Matters That I Applied to Do” (generated and organized by Ray Charles) and Larry Williams’ “Bony Moronie” and “Dizzy Pass up Lizzy,” the latter famously coated by the Beatles.


Rupe, born Arthur Goldberg on September 5, 1917, grew up in the suburbs outside the house Pittsburgh. “Growing up in an ethnically and racially varied neighborhood in McKeesport, Rupe experienced produced a eager curiosity in Rhythm ‘n’ Blues and Gospel music,” the foundation explained. “He as a result selected to focus in what was then known as ‘race information,’ audio made by and for African-Individuals.”

In the course of Globe War II, Rupe worked on an engineering crew testing Liberty ships in Los Angeles pursuing the war, Rupe remained in the town, first trying to break into Hollywood, according to the Washington Article, and then the music market. In 1944, Rupe co-established Juke Box Records — which produced the Sepia Tones’ regional hit “Boogie #1” — before parting techniques with that label and founding his very own, Specialty Documents, in 1946.

After 1st focusing on gospel and blues — like Joe Liggins’ Amount 1 hit “Pink Champagne” in 1950 — Specialty commenced concentrating on “race records” that appealed to both blacks and whites: Encouraged by Fat Domino’s good results, Rupe traveled to New Orleans and uncovered the 17-year-previous Lloyd Price tag in addition to his own hits on Specialty, it was Cost who also advised that Minimal Richard mail demos to the label, with Specialty making it possible for Richard to acquire himself out of a former contract.


In spite of a handful of Quantity One hits, Specialty struggled in the mid-Fifties until the arrival of “Tutti Frutti,” an off-the-cuff risque ditty that was reworked — with the aid of Specialty’s go-to producer Robert “Bumps” Blackwell — into a platinum smash and rock n’ roll vintage. Richard would also launch the one “Good Golly, Overlook Molly,” “Long Tall Sally” and his 1957 debut LP Here’s Tiny Richard on the Specialty label.

Rupe experienced a teenaged Sam Cooke signed to Specialty as a member of the gospel group the Soul Stirrers, who experienced a strike in 1950 with their rendition of “Jesus Gave Me H2o,” which was extra to the Library of Congress’ Countrywide Recording Registry in 2020. 

On the other hand, in what was a scarce misstep in Rupe’s famous vocation, he disagreed about Cooke’s solution to secular music, ensuing in the singer leaving the label. Cooke then signed with Eager Information in 1957 and launched his solo vocation with a string of hits that commenced with “You Mail Me” adhering to the achievements of that one, Specialty rush-produced Cooke’s strike “I’ll Come Working Again to You” that was recorded the earlier calendar year for the Specialty label. 


In the early Sixties, Rupe likewise missed an prospect to indication a youthful British quartet that was touring with Minor Richard in England, the Beatles. By that level, Rupe experienced come to be disenchanted with the music market and instead concentrated on his burgeoning oil and fuel enterprise that he had founded. 

In 2011, Rupe was inducted into the Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame, the recipient of the Ahmet Ertegun Award, with Lloyd Value inducting his onetime label head into the Cleveland Establishment. “Rock and roll as we know it would not exist devoid of Art Rupe,” the Rock Hall said of the honor.

“He introduced R&B and soul into the mainstream and launched Minimal Richard’s occupation. Rupe’s fastidious operate ethic and uncanny musical instinct formed the evolution of rock.”



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