NATHAN, SYDNEY “SYD” (1904-1968)

Syd Nathan founded King Records in Cincinnati, he operated King Records, he was King Records. When Syd died, King might as well have ceased to exist. He was loud, gruff, and hard to get along with, but he knew how to market records and was a genius at capitalizing on current events. Because King did everything in-house, there was little lag time between recording and getting the records on the street. When a little girl in California became trapped in a well in 1949, newspapers nationwide followed the rescue attempts until she was found dead. Syd rushed Jimmie Osborne into the studio, recorded “The Death of Little Kathy Fiscus,” and had the records in record shops in just over a week. He had black performers record country songs and bluegrass musicians record rhythm and blues songs. His biggest contribution to bluegrass was his prolific recording of the Stanley Brothers, Don Reno and Red Smiley, Moore and Napier, and other early artists. In 1996, Syd Nathan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and in 2006 he was named to the IBMA Bluegrass Hall of Fame.

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