Then: In 1997, Shake It Records owner Darren Blase was on a crusade to get the word out about Syd Nathan and King Records. Between 1943 and 1971, Blase told CityBeat readers, King Records "revolutionized the process in which music was recorded, manufactured, distributed and promoted." Cincinnatian Nathan set up shop in a warehouse that still sits south of the Woodburn Avenue overpass on I-71. As the local authority on Nathan and King Records, Blase was working hard on a book about the man and the organization. At the same time, he was actively petitioning the city to place a plaque designating the building as an historical marker. (Issue of March 27, 1997)
Now: Neither the book nor the plaque has happened yet. Blase is still the foremost authority on Nathan and King, but the book is on hold until he has time to edit and market it. "It's done," he sighs. "It's just a question of who wants to give me money for it."
As for the plaque, Blase has hopes that it will happen in about a year or so. He's hoping to gather donations from music lovers in the city to help fund the marker, which costs about $5,000. "Shake It can put a plaque on the building," he says. "We have to submit the text for historical review. It's just something that should be done. It should have been done 20 years ago."
It's not as if Nathan doesn't deserve the recognition. Shortly after the article appeared in CityBeat in 1997, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Several of the artists he signed and recorded have also been inducted. Blase is now concerned that the artists of King Records are dying before they get their due.
"I just wish they could have been properly acknowledged by somebody who has the capital to do it," he sighs again.
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