King of the Hill: A 70th anniversary video retrospective of Cincinnati’s King Records

James Brown was the jewel in the crown, but the throne of Cincinnati’s King Records always belonged to its irascible founder, Syd Nathan.

This is the 70th anniversary of the legendary record label and studio. It closed shop nearly 40 years ago, in a now long-neglected warehouse on the neighborhood border of Evanston and Walnut Hills, but its impact still reverberates across today’s music.

King Records was home to what was then called hillbilly music—the generational precursor to country music—while, at the same time, helping expose the nation to James Brown and some of the earliest R&B artists.

Insiders have launched a month of activities and events celebrating the anniversary, from performances to a reading of a play based on King Records. Here’s my short documentary looking back at an important piece of Cincinnati flavor and history.