Recorded In Hollywood: The John Dolphin Story
Jamelle Baruck Dolphin
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Legendary Los Angeles music producer John Dolphin was one of the first, most well respected and successful black businessman and independent record label owners, well before Motown ever existed. In 1948 he opened the celebrity-filled Dolphin’s of Hollywood Record Shop in Los Angeles on the legendary Central Avenue, a music mecca on the west coast that compared to Harlem in it’s heyday. Dolphin’s contributions to music and the formative years of Rhythm & Blues and Rock & Roll, are often overlooked.
John Dolphin was the epitome of a record businessman, a big man with a big cigar, and big talk. A mini-mogul he would have nearly every facet of the record business covered. Dolphin’s of Hollywood record shop was famous for breaking hits for stars like Jesse Belvin’s “Dream Girl” and the Dolphin’s of Hollywood radio show became the most popular black radio show in America. Recording artists appeared at the store and performed live on-air interviews and would greet and sign autographs for customers. Dolphins of Hollywood record store was the first business to open 24 hours even on Sundays, also the first to offer “Buy One Get One Free” for purchases of any record in the store.
During the time of great racial segregation in Los Angeles, one man, John Dolphin, had the vision and forsight to create the crossover music concept, because he knew white teenagers loved black music. He went on white radio station KRKD and played a black music format, marketing black music to whites. White kids would pack the Dolphin’s of Hollywood record shop in the all black neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles, nightly. Dolphin had the most popular deejays including famous Dick “Huggy Boy” Hugg, who drew white teenagers to the shop in ever increasing numbers. Dolphin’s of Hollywood radio show featuring Huggy Boy as deejay was the first to play and break the song “Earth Angel” by the Penguins and within weeks of its release it shot to the top of the billboard charts.
His contributions to music spans from Jazz to Rock’n’Roll, the many great artist whose careers he helped along are astonishing; artists such as Sam Cooke, Jesse Belvin, Charles Mingus, Pee Wee Crayton, Major Lance and many more. The Dolphins of Hollywood legendary DJs in the store window like Huggy Boy, Hunter Hancock, and Charles Trammel, would spin records all night.
Dolphin’s contributions go beyond music -- his record shop and radio show would bring together all races during a time of segregation in America, and his decision to take a stand for Civil Rights in his protest against LAPD harassment of black business on Central Avenue, is a continuing inspiration. Read and discover a never-before-told story of John Dolphin’s life journey, to the day of his murder in 1958. A great tale of American history, African American history, Music history, and Los Angeles history all in this one, incredible true story.