I’m currently working on a chapter about the historical geography of emotion in the evolution of the vinyl record industry. I just learned about the murder of John Dolphin in February of 1958. The man was incredibly instrumental in the integration of LA’s music scene in the 50’s, issuing such singles as “Earth Angel” by the Penguins (famously covered by Marvin Berry & the Starlighters). After some light googling, I found Steve Propes’ wordpress blog about classic doo-wop 45’s, and particularly this posting about Dolphin’s murder. The comments section, where several of Dolphin’s old friends, as well as the one-time cell mate of his murderer Percy Icy, show up, is why I had to reblog this. Enjoy! I’m going back to writing for another 70 hours.
*Correction, per Steve Propes himself:
Thanks for your response, just one correction. Dolphin did not issue “Earth Angel,” that was by Walter “Dootsie” Williams on his Dootone label, though Dolphin’s DJ Huggy Boy was probably the first to play the record in the store window in ’54.
Between about 1948 and 1958, John Dolphin owned and operated Dolphin’s of Hollywood Record Shop in South L.A., most famously near the corner of Vernon and Central Ave.From the early 1950s to his death, he also operated a variety of local labels like Recorded In Hollywood, Lucky, Money and Cash, one which he recorded a host of local r&b, blues, jazz and even western music talent.
While recording for Dolphin, who was well known for making promises of rich payouts, only to forget to pay modest session scale to studio players, Rudy Ray Moore took on assistant duties, becoming his driver and picking up records for the store in ‘58 and ’59.
According to the L.A. Times, John Dolphin, 42 of 3918 Edgehill Dr. was murdered behind the desk of his office at 1252 S. Berendo St., Hollywood, on Feb 1, 1958 by frustrated singer Percy…
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