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

Harmony Cardenas

Artwork Rupe, founder of the trailblazing R&B label Specialty Records that unveiled early classics by artists like Little Richard, Sam Cooke and Lloyd Value, has died at the age of 104.

The Arthur N. Rupe Foundation introduced his demise Friday, including that Rupe died at his property in Santa Barbara, California. No bring about of death was furnished.

As founder and producer at the Los Angeles-dependent Specialty Information, Rupe oversaw a label that was dependable for music that laid the bedrock for rock n’ roll: Tiny Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,” Price’s “Lawdy Overlook Clawdy,” Guitar Slim’s “The Matters That I Made use of to Do” (created and arranged by Ray Charles) and Larry Williams’ “Bony Moronie” and “Dizzy Pass up Lizzy,” the latter famously covered by the Beatles.

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Rupe, born Arthur Goldberg on September 5, 1917, grew up in the suburbs outside the house Pittsburgh. “Growing up in an ethnically and racially numerous neighborhood in McKeesport, Rupe had designed a keen fascination in Rhythm ‘n’ Blues and Gospel tunes,” the basis claimed. “He for that reason selected to specialize in what was then known as ‘race records,’ new music made by and for African-Us citizens.”

Through Entire world War II, Rupe worked on an engineering crew testing Liberty ships in Los Angeles pursuing the war, Rupe remained in the town, to start with making an attempt to break into Hollywood, in accordance to the Washington Post, and then the new music sector. In 1944, Rupe co-started Juke Box Information — which produced the Sepia Tones’ regional strike “Boogie #1” — in advance of parting strategies with that label and founding his own, Specialty Data, in 1946.

Following first concentrating on gospel and blues — including Joe Liggins’ Variety 1 strike “Pink Champagne” in 1950 — Specialty started concentrating on “race records” that appealed to both blacks and whites: Inspired by Fats Domino’s success, Rupe traveled to New Orleans and identified the 17-yr-outdated Lloyd Rate in addition to his possess hits on Specialty, it was Price who also advisable that Minor Richard deliver demos to the label, with Specialty enabling Richard to purchase himself out of a earlier deal.

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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 remodeled — with the assist of Specialty’s go-to producer Robert “Bumps” Blackwell — into a platinum smash and rock n’ roll common. Richard would also launch the one “Good Golly, Miss Molly,” “Long Tall Sally” and his 1957 debut LP Here’s Tiny Richard on the Specialty label.

Rupe had 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 Drinking water,” which was included to the Library of Congress’ Countrywide Recording Registry in 2020. 

Having said that, in what was a unusual misstep in Rupe’s legendary occupation, he disagreed about Cooke’s tactic to secular audio, resulting in the singer leaving the label. Cooke then signed with Keen Data in 1957 and released his solo vocation with a string of hits that began with “You Mail Me” pursuing the accomplishment of that one, Specialty hurry-introduced Cooke’s hit “I’ll Arrive Operating Back again to You” that was recorded the past calendar year for the Specialty label. 

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In the early Sixties, Rupe similarly missed an option to indicator a young British quartet that was touring with Minor Richard in England, the Beatles. By that point, Rupe experienced become disenchanted with the tunes market and alternatively concentrated on his burgeoning oil and fuel business that he had founded. 

In 2011, Rupe was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the recipient of the Ahmet Ertegun Award, with Lloyd Price inducting his onetime label head into the Cleveland Institution. “Rock and roll as we know it would not exist with no Artwork Rupe,” the Rock Hall said of the honor.

“He introduced R&B and soul into the mainstream and introduced Very little Richard’s profession. Rupe’s fastidious do the job ethic and uncanny musical intuition formed the evolution of rock.”

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