June Feature: Bobby Robinson's Labels

May 31, 2013

Throughout June, Crossroads will be spinning golden oldies and rarities from Bobby Robinson's classic doo-wop and R&B labels.

Though Robinson passed away in January 2011 at the age of 93, he left behind a rich legacy as a label owner, songwriter, and producer. He was born in South Carolina and, after serving in the Army during World War II, headed to New York. There he opened the first black-owned business on 125th Street, a converted hat shop that became his famous record store. Bobby's Happy House, as it was eventually named, became a Harlem landmark, open for over 60 years in the same location. After doing a series of doo-wop and blues records in the early '50s as a producer and for his own Red Robin and Whirlin Disc labels, he launched Fury and Everlast in 1957, Fire in 1959, and Enjoy in 1962. Fire and Fury, his R&B and rock labels, were perhaps the best known Robinson's imprints, but for a time, he could also boast some of the best New York doo-wop as well.

Doo-wop group, The Scarlets, with "Dear One" on Robinson's Red Robin label:

Robinson produced a number of successful and historic records, including Wilbert Harrison's classic "Kansas City," the Shirelles' "Dedicated to the One I Love," Gladys Knight & the Pips first hit "Every Beat of My Heart," and the King Curtis favorite "Soul Twist." He worked with such blues artists as Elmore James, Lightnin' Hopkins, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Champion Jack Dupree, and Arthur Crudup. Later, in the '70s. Robinson would also be one of the first to record hip hop artists, among them Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Kool Moe Dee, and Doug E. Fresh.

Bobby Robinson's production of the Elmore James classic, "The Sky Is Crying," on is Fire label:

Meet at the Crossroads Fridays at 10p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. (or through our streaming archive player at the top of the page) throughout June for the best from the labels, songs and productions of Bobby Robinson's remarkable and influential career.