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Arts & Culture

Ohio's Supreme Court Gives a Temporary Reprieve to A Historic Record Company

King's label was among the first to produce rock and roll

The Ohio Supreme Court today  issued a reprieve that could save the life of an historic Cincinnati building.   The two-story-red brick structure looks decrepit today but it was there that, arguably, the first rock and roll song was recorded.  Mark Urycki from member station WCPN reports…

You can quibble over what constitutes the very first rock song but a good case could be made for Wynonie Harris’s 1948 recording “Good Rocking Tonight.”


In 2008, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame placed a historic market in the front of the King Records studio and record plant. When word got out last year that the building owner, Dynamic Industries, wanted to tear down the structure, local music groups, including the Bootsy Collins Foundation,  got involved. 

They convinced the city to designate the building an historic landmark which protected it from demolition. Dynamic went to court claiming it amounted to an illegal taking of their property by the city.   

The Supreme Court has ruled that Dynamic cannot demand a demolition permit or money damages because “it has not exhausted its administrative remedies” in that it has not applied for a variance so the city can make a final decision on its application for a demolition permit. 

King Records was founded by Syd Nathan to record country music but soon was recording The Dominoes, Joe Tex, James Brown, the recent Rock Hall of Fame inductees the 5 Royales. It was sold several times in the early 70’s and has since disappeared but its building, for now, is still standing.