From the Land of Band Box Records

Specialty Record Label

Like major independent labels created by the Bihari brothers out of Los Angeles, Chess Records from Chicago and King Records in Cincinnati, Specialty Records was formed in the mid 1940’s.

The founders of all three of these enterprises were most unlikely as candidates to create a rhythm and blues, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll legacy for the ages!

Specialty records was formed in 1944 by Art Rupe along with a couple of partners first called “Juke Box Records” but then changed to Specialty when Rupe took sole possession.

Art Rupe was born on September 5th, 1917 in Greensburg, Pennsylvania and amazingly continues on having turned 100 years of age this month (September, 2017).  He is the first music industry figure I have posted to my knowledge to have reached that mark!).  Rupe made his way to California from Pennsylvania first working in a shipping yard.

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Art Rupe R&B Visionary

Rupe had developed an early love of gospel music and blues and was a frequent visitor to night clubs in the Watt’s neighborhood of L.A.  After starting up his fledgling record company he was able to bring on musicians such as Roy Milton and Percy Mayfield.  Within a couple of years he started recording gospel groups such as the Swan Silvertones and the Soul Stirrers.

A major signing for Rupe occurred in 1952 when he visited New Orleans, Louisiana and managed to sign Lloyd Price.  His New Orleans’ journey would also land him Little Richard (with the recording of “Tutti Frutti” and giving Specialty their premier artist.

Rupe’s recording and producing days ended by the early 1960’s when he turned his attention to publishing.  Specialty was maintained in name only with a small office from which record stock was sold over a period of a half-dozen years or so.

By 1968, an “oldies” revival prompted Rupe to fire back up the label at which point the reissuing of material began under the tutelage of one Barret Hansen who would later surface on recordings and on the air as “Dr. Demento”.

As w as common, very few long plays were produced in the early formative years of Specialty, when there was little demand due to the lack of long play machines to Specialty’s primarily black buying audience.

But as time marched on, the label was able to tap into it’s considerable master catalog to produce many tantalizing collections – meeting the demand of R&B lovers throughout the world.

Specialty was sold in the early 1990’s to Fantasy Records.  For those in search, a vast and impressive series of CD’s were released by Specialty staring in 1990 – which includes more than 80 collections.

Specialty Records Long Play Discography

Specialty LP 100 – Little Richard – “Here’s Little Richard”
(This LP was released in March of 1957 and reissued quickly on Specialty SP-2100 in August of 1957)

Specialty LP 2101 – Gerald Wiggins – “Around the World in 80 Days”

Specialty LP 2102 – Hal Hidey and His Honkey Tonkers – “Barroom Music with a Broad Appeal” NEED

Specialty LP 2103 – “Little Richard”

Specialty LP 2104 – Little Richard – “The Fabulous”

Specialty LP 2105 – Lloyd Price – “His Original Recordings”

Specialty LP 2106 – The Soul Stirrers – “Featuring Sam Cooke”

Specialty LP 2107 – The Gospel Harmonettes – “He’s Calling Me”

Specialty LP 2108 – Alex Bradford – “Too Close to Heaven”

Specialty LP 2109 – Larry William – “Here’s Larry Williams”

Specialty LP 2110 – Various Artists – “Dizzy Atmosphere”

Specialty LP 2111 – Little Richard – “His Biggest Hits”

Specialty LP 2112 – Lloyd Price/Sam Cooke/Larry Williams/Little Richard – “Our Significant Hits”

There was a huge gap in time between LP 2112 and LP 2113 – nearly eight years

Specialty LP 2113 – Little Richard – “Little Richard’s Grooviest 17 Original Hits!”

Specialty LP 2114 – Various Artists “Doo Wop”

Specialty LP 2115 – Various Artists – “Ain’t That Good News”

Specialty LP 2116 – Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers – “The Gospel Soul Of”

Specialty LP 2117 – Various Artists – “This Is How It All Began”

Specialty LP 2118 – Various Artists – “This Is How It All Began Vol. 2”

Specialty LP 2119 – Sam Cooke – “The Two Sides Of”

Specialty LP 2120 – Guitar Slim – “The Things That I Used To Do”

Specialty LP 2121 – The Pilgrim Travelers – “The Best Of”

Specialty LP 2122 -The Swan Silvertones – “Love Lifted Me”

Specialty LP 2123 – The Five Blind Boys of Alabama – “Oh Lord Stand By Me”

Specialty LP 2124 – Frankie Lee Sims – “Lucy Mae Blues”

Specialty LP 2125 – John Lee Hooker – “Alone”

Specialty LP 2126 – Percy Mayfield – “Best Of”

Specialty LP 2127 – John Lee Hooker – “Goin’ Down Highway 51”

Specialty LP 2128 – Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers – “The Gospel Soul Of”

Specialty LP 2129 – Various Artists – “Original Rock Oldies”

Specialty LP 2130 – Various Artists – “Original Rock Oldies Volume 2”

Specialty LP 2131 – Don and Dewey – “They’re Rockin’ ’til Midnight, Rollin’ ’til Dawn”

Specialty LP 2132 – Brother Joe May – “Search Me Lord”

Specialty LP 2133 – Alex Bradford – “The Best Of”

Specialty LP 2134 – Dorothy Love Coates and the Original Gospel Harmonettes – “The Best Of”

Specialty LP 2135 – “Kingdom”

Specialty LP 2136 – Little Richard – “Well Alright”

Specialty LP 2137 – “The Original Soul Stirrers featuring Sam Cooke”

Specialty LP 2138 – The Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama – “Marching Up to Zion”

Specialty LP 2139 – Clifton Chenier – “Bayou Blues”

Specialty LP 2140 – The Pilgrim Travelers – “The Best Of”

Specialty LP 2141 – Dorothy Love Coates and the Original Gospel Harmonettes – “The Best Of Vol. 2”

Specialty LP 2142 – Brother Joe May – “Thank You Lord for One More Day”

Specialty LP 2143 – Alex Bradford – “He Lifted Me”

Specialty LP 2144 – Various Artists – “Greatest Gospel Gems Volume 1”

Specialty LP 2145 – Various Artists – “Greatest Gospel Gems Volume 2”

Specialty LP 2146 – Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers – “That’s Heaven To Me”

Specialty LP 2147 – The Pilgrim Travelers – “Shake My Mother’s Hand”

Specialty LP 2148 – The Swan Silvertones – “My Rock”

Specialty LP 2149 – Various Artists – “Dark Muddy Bottom Blues”

Specialty LP 2150 – The Soul Stirrers – “Going Back to the Lord Again”

Specialty LP 2151 – Brother Joe May – “In Loving Memory Of”

Specialty LP 2152 – Various Artists – “To Mother”

Specialty LP 2153 – Various Artists – “Gospel Stars In Concert”

Specialty LP – 2154 – Little Richard – “The Essential”

Specialty LP 2155 – Various Artists – “The Golden Groups”

Specialty LP 2156 – Lloyd Price – “Personality Plus”

Specialty LP 2157 – Wynona Carr – “Jump Jack Jump!”

Specialty LP 2158 – Larry Williams – “Unreleased”

Specialty LP 2159 – Roy Milton – “R.M. Blues”

Specialty LP 2160 – Joe Liggins and His Honeydippers

Specialty LP 2161 – Frank Rosolino – “Free For All”

Specialty LP 2162 – Larry Williams – “Hocus Pocus”

Specialty LP 2163 – Lloyd Price – “Walkin’ The Track”

Specialty LP 2164 – Sam Cooke – “Forever”

Specialty LP 2165 – Art Neville – “That Old Time Rock and Roll”

Specialty LP 2166 – The Hollywood Flames – “Buzz Buzz Buzz”

Specialty LP 2167 – Various Artists – “Lay That New Orleans Rock ‘N’ Roll Down”

Specialty LP 2225 – Larry Williams – “Slow Down”

Specialty LP 2912 – Little Richard – “Here’s Little Richard” (Reissue of Specialty 100)

Specialty LP 5000 – Katie Lee – “Sings Spicy Songs for Cool Knights”

Specialty LP 5002 – Buddy Collette – “Jazz Loves Paris”

Specialty LP 5003 – Denny King – “Evil Wind Is Blowing”

Specialty LP 7000 – Percy Mayfield – “Legends”

Specialty LP 7002 – Larry Williams – “Legends”

Specialty LP 7003 – Jesse Belvin – “Legends”

Specialty LP 7004 – Roy Milton – “Legends”

Specialty LP 7005 – Jimmy Liggins – “Legends”

Specialty LP 7006 – Joe Liggins and His Honeydrippers

Specialty LP 8508 (Box Set) – Little Richard – “The Specialty Sessions”


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