Prior to Berry Gordy's Motown, There Was John Dolphin's Recorded In Hollywood

Jeanette Baker knew who John Dolphin was when during her time as a young high school artist in the 1950s.

“I can see him presently strolling around with that stogie,” Baker says. “At the point when he strolled around, you realized he was someone. He had that air about him, which was somewhat uncommon in those days because being a person of color with all the fitness that he had, he became a good example to us.”

Before Berry Gordy founded the Motown record label, John Dolphin ran his own record mark, Recorded in Hollywood. It was related to his earth-shattering record shop in South Central Los Angeles and the public broadcasts that it transmitted, helping such musicians as jazz performer Charles Mingus and a young Sam Cooke reach the city’s white audience (and beyond). John Dolphin’s story is currently playing to sold-out crowds in Los Angeles as Recorded In Hollywood: The Musical, and is moving to another venue in one month’s time.

Dolphin’s store existed off Central Avenue — the fundamental Los Angeles drag for people of color in those days.

“Going north on Central, there was the Club Alabam, The Last Word, The Memo,” Baker says. “You could also find the Lincoln Theater. It saddens me that we didn’t protect that, since that is the place where all the bigger performing acts played — all the shows, and so on…everyone was there. You know, Cab Calloway, every one of them were there.”

It wasn’t Dolphin’s original intention to open his record store in South Central. Originally, Dolphin attempted to lease space on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood from a white finance manager. He had the capital, but had no credit. He had references, but none of them held weight in Hollywood.

That didn’t stop Dolphin from opening his record store, which he brought to South Central, intentionally calling it Dolphin’s of Hollywood. It was 1948, and he had huge thoughts for a record shop, according to Phil Gallo, who’s put down a book on the historical backdrop of account stores.

“He thought of the possibility of the 24-hour store, which practically didn’t exist,” Gallo says. “He had put a radio broadcast within the record store. Additionally, he had to develop a name that would stream out the record store.”

Dolphin had well-known white DJs turning records throughout the night at the storefront’s enormous retail window. He purchased broadcast appointments on the KRKD radio station, which took into account white audience members. They played Dolphin-delivered records and melodies by others. On top of that, the hybrid allure of these broadcasts helped break a couple of melodies broadly.

“Aficionados, all things considered,” Gallo says, “started visiting the store from all over the city. He had stopped, so individuals could hang out in that parking lot, hear the radio broadcast, go inside the store, buy or make a couple of records, return outside, and hang out. He managed to establish a scene, and it consisted of music fans. From small children to adults alike, people flocked to the store from all over.”

In any event, the store’s prevalence turned out to be a little too much to handle for specialists, according to Matt Donnelly, who co-wrote Recorded In Hollywood: The Musical.

“They were stressed about younger white women hitting the dance floor with dark young men, so decide to make captures, sending the white children home,” Donnelly says. “And afterward, no doubt, they would periodically close down the shop.”

Dolphin was even captured, as the musical portrays. Yet, he managed to re-open and remain a fruitful finance manager.

Well, he did until Feb. 1, 1958, when a hopeful vocalist and long-lasting store worker named Percy Ivy became vexed because Dolphin wouldn’t offer him a record arrangement. Ivy shot Dolphin in the store.

“You know, it made me extremely upset when he got killed,” says Baker, who found out about the killing the very next day. “It upset everyone. I want to cry now just thinking about it because we knew right then and there that our reality had changed.”

Dolphin’s widow, Ruth, kept the store alive in 1989. “It’s crazy to think that only a select few individuals today recall the store or its proprietor,” says John Dolphin’s grandson, Jamelle Dolphin. When he was growing up, he says individuals would consistently ask if he was related as to the celebrated record storekeeper.

“Furthermore, this would be something I sort of became attached to,” Jamelle Dolphin says. “It was normal, but then it just stopped around the 1990s and 2000s. Lastly, I think he ought to be a more significant piece of the historical backdrop of music in Los Angeles than what he is today.”

So Jamelle wrote a book about his grandfather that turned into the reason for the new musical. Jamelle Dolphin also co-composed the content with Donnelly, and the music and verses are by Andy Cooper from the hip-jump bunch Ugly Duckling.

John Dolphin “was a business person,” Donnelly says. “He was a visionary. He was, as James Brown put it, the principal individual of color to be fruitful in the music business. Also, he’s someone who should be remembered.”

Donnelly and Jamelle hope Recorded In Hollywood will help revive the memory of John Dolphin.


Before Berry Gordy conceived Motown, John Dolphin had his own record name, Recorded in Hollywood. He owned a mainstream record store that was tucked away in South Central Los Angeles, and it broadcast public radio broadcasts from the store. That entire scene and radio broadcast presented Sam Cooke’s music to the city’s white audiences. Dolphin’s story is presently playing to sold-out theater crowds in Los Angeles and Iris Mann investigates “Recorded In Hollywood: The Musical.”

IRIS MANN, BYLINE: Jeanette Baker became more acquainted with John Dolphin when she was an artistic, adolescent vocalist in the 1950s.

JEANETTE BAKER: I can see him in my mind strolling around with that stogie. Also, when he strolled around, you realized he was someone. He had that air about him, which was uncommon for a person of color in those days. In any case, he made a good example to us.

MANN: Baker would hang out at Dolphin’s store, which was simply off Central Avenue, the primary drag for people of color in Los Angeles in those days.

Bread cook: Going north on Central, there was the Club Alabam, The Last Word, The Memo, and the Lincoln Theater. Makes me extremely upset that we didn’t protect that since that is the place where all the large groups went, all the shows, and so on – Cab Calloway – every one of them was there.

MANN: But that is not where John Dolphin needed to open his record store. Right off the bat in the melodic, he attempts to lease space on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood from a white financial specialist who turns him down.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As white finance manager) It has nothing to do with the shade of your skin.

STU JAMES: (As John Dolphin) Don’t consider me an individual of color. Consider me for what I am – a money manager.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As white money manager) If you’ll pardon me, I’m late for another arrangement. Would you take a gander at that? I do apologize Mr. Dolphin.

JAMES: (As John Dolphin) I don’t need your statement of regret, I need a rent. Hollywood. Man, I needn’t bother with Hollywood. Hollywood necessities me.

MANN: So Dolphin opened his store in South Central and called it Dolphin’s of Hollywood. It was 1948 and he had large thoughts for a record shop, says Phil Gallo, who’s set up a book on the historical backdrop of account stores.

PHIL GALLO: He concocted the possibility of the 24-hour store, which didn’t exist. He had to put a radio broadcast within a record store. Also, he had a mark that produces out of the record store.

MANN: Dolphin had mainstream white DJs turning records the entire night in the huge retail facade window. He purchased broadcast appointments on radio broadcast KRKD, which took into account white audience members. They played Dolphin-delivered records and melodies by others. Furthermore, the hybrid allure of the shows helped break a couple of tunes broadly.

THE PENGUINS: (Singing) Earth heavenly messenger, earth heavenly messenger, will you be mine?

MANN: Fans of all tones started dropping on the store from across the city, says Phil Gallo.

GALLO: He had to stop so individuals could hang out in that parking area, hear the radio broadcast, go into the store, make a buy or two, return outside and hang out. What’s more, that was truly what was critical. There was a scene that was created and it was simply music fans, and it was little youngsters. What’s more, they came from everywhere.

MANN: But the store’s prevalence turned out to be a lot for the specialists, says Matt Donnelly, who co-expressed “Recorded In Hollywood: The Musical.”

MATT DONNELLY: They were stressed over white young ladies hitting the dance floor with dark young men, thus they would make captures, send the white children home, and afterward they would once in a while shut down the shop.

MANN: John Dolphin has even captured himself, however, he generally re-opened and stayed an effective money manager…

JAMES: (As John Dolphin) When John Dolphin talks in the class, it’s the gospel, infant. So I need you to check this down at the present moment so you can recollect that I told you all (singing) I will make it, I will aim high.

MANN: …Until February 1, 1958. On that day, hopeful vocalist Percy Ivy, a long-lasting store worker, became disturbed when Dolphin wouldn’t offer him a record arrangement and chance the storekeeper to death. Vocalist Jeanette Baker says she caught wind of it the following day.

Cook: It made me extremely upset when he got murdered. It made’s everybody extremely upset. I want to cry now since all the craftsmen, realized that right then and there, our reality had changed.

MANN: Dolphin’s widow, Ruth, kept the store going until 1989. In any case, barely any individuals today recollect the store or its proprietors, says John Dolphin’s grandson, Jamelle. At the point when he was growing up, he says, individuals would inquire as to whether he was identified with the well-known record storekeeper.

JAMELLE DOLPHIN: And this would be something I sort of became partial to, and it just quit occurring around, say, the 1990s and 2000s. Furthermore, I began delving more into, you know, how he helped Los Angeles and how he helped mix and uniting individuals with music. Thus I just turned out to be more enthusiastic about his story, and I felt that it ought to be considerably more a piece of the historical backdrop of music in Los Angeles than what he is present.

MANN: So he composed a book about his granddad that turned into the reason for the new melodic, which Dolphin additionally co-composed with Matt Donnelly.

DONNELLY: He was relatively revolutionary, he was a business person, he was a visionary. He was, as James Brown put it, the main person of color to be fruitful in the music business. Furthermore, it’s somebody that should be recalled.

MANN: And Donnelly and Jamelle Dolphin trust “Recorded In Hollywood: The Musical” will help resuscitate that memory. For NPR News, I’m Iris Mann. The record is given by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Dolphin's of Hollywood Square on Central and Vernon

On July 28, 2016, it was a momentous occasion to commit the crossing point of Central Avenue and Vernon Avenue to Dolphin’s of Hollywood Record Square to commemorate the legacy of John Dolphin, owner of Dolphin’s of Hollywood—one of the primary African-American owned record stores in Los Angeles.

John Dolphin and Dolphin’s of Hollywood were instrumental in carrying mood and blues to Los Angeles, bringing the Hollywood recording industry to South Central. The extraordinary square devotion is regarded as a pioneer and foundation, and it pays homage to the narrative of Central Avenue.

It was not only a happy occasion, but a very loving one, especially considering that many relatives, local residents, and friends alike came to celebrate the magnificent event.

L.A. Crossing Point Central and Vernon Gets a New Name

On Thursday, July 28, 2016, at 10:00 a.m., the City of Los Angeles will formally rename the intersection of Central Avenue and Vernon Avenue. In acknowledgment of the single record store’s role in music history, specifically jazz and R&B music, the intersection will be known as Dolphin’s of Hollywood Records Square. City Council member Curren D. Value, Jr. of the ninth District will direct the function.

In 1948, the business person John Dolphin opened Dolphin’s of Hollywood record store in Los Angeles at 1065 Vernon Avenue. Soon after opening its doors, it became “the spot to be.”

It became one of the most popular record stores in the country, with amazing DJs like Dick “Huggy Boy” Hugg, Hunter Hancock, and Charles Trammel spinning records and broadcasting the entire night from the front window. This round-the-clock entertainment turned into a social event, a place for music lovers from every race and background, despite continuous resistance and badgering from the LAPD under police Chief William H. Parker. In 1958, the scene came to a close as a result of Dolphin’s homicide by a store representative. Dolphin’s better half, Ruth, kept on working the store until 1989.

Dolphin recorded a large group of R&B, blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, and even western music artists at the store. Some of the notable names include Lucky, Money, Cash, and Recorded in Hollywood. The numerous incredible craftsmen, whose professions he progressed, included Sam Cooke, Jesse Belvin, Charles Mingus, Pee Wee Crayton, and Major Lance.

Prior to Motown, There Was John Dolphin: Relatives Of LA Music Legend Keep Legacy Alive With New Theatre Play

LOS ANGELES ( — At an early age, Jamelle Dolphin knew that his last name carried weight.

“Once people found out my last name was Dolphin, they always asked me if I identified or knew John Dolphin, ” he said.

This is a common inquiry that has followed Dolphin well into adulthood.

Over 60 years ago, his grandfather was mere a music advertiser making a living as a pre-owned vehicle sales rep. After moving to Los Angeles from Detroit, Dolphin quickly set up himself and opened the first 24-hour record store in Los Angeles, off Central Avenue, in 1948.

According to Jamelle Dolphin, “He was only a financial specialist who had a deep love for music.”

For everyone living in L.A., John Dolphin was notorious, but his fame extended beyond the city’s limits. He was the originator of Dolphin’s of Hollywood, a name that came out of protest during a time or racial isolation in the early days of recording and rock n’ roll.

Yet today, many years after the fact, Jamelle Dolphin is able to keep his grandfather’s legacy alive, despite the six Dolphin’s of Hollywood locations that closed their doors in the 1990s. Jamelle managed to bring his grandfather’s tale to life in the form of a musical, melodic storytelling debuting in, what other place, Hollywood.

“Recorded in Hollywood: The John Dolphin Story” gives credit, which is long overdue, to the man Jamelle says had a great impact on Sam Cooke, The Penguins, and The Hollywood Flames.

He passed on a photograph of his grandfather grinning in the shop close by Billie Holiday, who was one of the many notable musicians and artists attracted to the celebrated business, which opened its entryways in with a name seemingly prophesied its future.

“They wouldn’t permit a person of color to work in that business in Hollywood at the time, so my grandfather opened his shop on Central and called it Dolphin’s of Hollywood,” Jamelle clarified. “He said he wanted to bring Hollywood to Central.”

The decision on Brown v. Leading body of Education wouldn’t come for a very long time. Yet, during that time, Dolphin was able to establish his first record name, Recorded In Hollywood, in 1950.

A public broadcast came not long after. “Harlem Hit Parade,” taking its name from the Billboard diagram, broadcast on KRKD, and Dolphin took advantage of it as an outlet to advance the craft of cutting-edge craftsmen.

DJs like Huggy Boy, Hunter Hancock, and Charles Trammel spun records as the night passed, drawing hordes of youthful black, white, and Latino Americans, and some undesirable attention from the LAPD.

“It transformed into a beautiful interracial scene,” Jamelle said. “At the same time, it caused a great deal of debate. Before long, the LAPD began to close down the scene, the record store.” Fortunately, Dolphin proved victorious in the long run, driving a walk-in dissent of a police bar of his business in 1954.

He continued to have a positive impact on the community, and Dolphin’s of Hollywood turned into a nearby chain, a beacon that included and interested artists who didn’t receive mainstream Hollywood attention.

According to Jamelle, “Everyone needed to be a vocalist in those days, and John Dolphin was the source for them.”

Unfortunately, that impact led to his demise, when a misinformed artist, Percy Ivy, shot and executed Dolphin in 1958.

Previously, the two of them recorded music together, but their songs were rarely delivered. Ivy came outfitted to Dolphin’s office in Hollywood after a contradiction over cash and responsibility for accounts. He was lethally shot in the chest and passed on at his work area.

Dolphin’s significant other, who then became a single parent to five youngsters — one of them Jamelle’s father — gained control over her husband’s domain. Dolphin’s of Hollywood had a good run, but the businesses had to close their doors at the primary South LA location 1989.

“I wish it was still here. We could’ve made a big difference for the name,” Jamelle said.

Even though the stores are no longer in existence, Jamelle is honoring his grandfather’s name and the store’s legacy.

NAACP grant victor Denise Dowse is coordinating the play at the Lillian Theater, with previous “Lease” entertainer Stu James driving the cast.

Jamelle, credited with building up the story, has worked closely with Matt Donnelly, an essayist known for his work on “Siblings and Sisters” and “Mixology.”

Andy Cooper wrote more than twelve unique tunes, to which the melodies are set. Music chief, Stephan Terry, amps up the sentimentality with hits like Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me,” The Penguins’ “Earth Angel,” and “Wheel of Fortune” by the Hollywood Flames, all tunes Jamelle says initially broke on the Dolphin’s of Hollywood public broadcast.

“Before Motown became popular, there was the John Dolphin story,” according to a review of Dolphin’s story. Jamelle couldn’t agree more with that assessment.

“I think my grandfather did something amazing, and his story deserves to live on.”

“Dolphin’s of Hollywood” opens Saturday with exhibitions Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. What’s more, Sundays at 3 p.m. through May 17.

Hollywood Smoove Interview

“If I put it out, it’s going to be something you love”, words from Smoove himself taking from his latest interview at the Dolphins of Hollywood offices. “Expect the unexpected when it comes to me…it’s going to get better every time, for sure”. Smoove is a hip hop/rap fan first and when asked about other artist and those currently on the radio here’s what he had to say, “I think Wayne is hot, that’s first and foremost, honestly after that Kanye, you can throw Jezzy in there…really I’m just trying to be where those dudes is at, I don’t have no hate.”

“I’m a hip hop nomad; I can go anywhere and blend in”. Raised in Compton and Downey, CA he also lived in the south in Tennessee, he has drawn comparisons to Snoop Dogg and Fabolous for his laid back attitude and flow. “My style is just real versatile. It’s something that you can just bob your head to, even if you don’t feel it.” Smoove has also gotten a lot of attention as a lyricist; “When I do music or when I listen to music I first listen to the words…and that’s what I bring to music, what I’m saying…lyrically I’m bringing it every song.”

Smoove speaks on the music he’s putting out and his upcoming full album release titled Holla at’cha Mac; “I got whatever you need, you want something hard I got that, you want something soft I got that, you looking to dance I got that, if somebody gotta die I got that too…I got whatever type music.” “You know I got that Holla at’cha Mac album coming, I got some hot joints on there, though we’re still recording…I wanna see what happens with Keep It Poppin, so until further notice that’s all I can say right now.”

“I know y’all been waiting, I been waiting. I’m on my way…and I got what everybody been waiting to hear, what I’m bringing nobody else got, that’s straight up. I feel like if I be humble success will come, but I also feel like I gotta show everybody what I got. I’m all bottled up right now, I’m like a shaken soda, bottled up and once that top come off, everybody will know.