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Iglauer was born in Ann Arbor and grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Cincinnati, Ohio. He became interested in the blues during the mid-1960s while attending Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and began hosting a college radio show, then moving on to promoting concerts by Howlin' Wolf and Luther Allison. He came to the attention of Bob Koester, and joined the staff of Delmark Records in Chicago as a shipping clerk. When Iglauer's advice to sign Hound Dog Taylor & The House Rockers was declined, he recorded the group himself, and in so doing created Alligator Records in 1971.
Nine months after the release of the first album, he left Delmark and continued at Alligator, making acclaimed recordings from Big Walter Horton, Son Seals, Fenton Robinson, Koko Taylor, Albert Collins, Lonnie Brooks and many others. A breakthrough came in 1975 with Koko Taylor's "I Got What It Takes", which earned Alligator its first Grammy Award nomination. In 1978, he signed Albert Collins, and in 1982 Clifton Chenier's "I'm Here!" won a Grammy. In 1984, Iglauer signed the blues rock musician Lonnie Mack, who recorded three albums on Alligator. Mack's 1985 album, Strike Like Lightning (produced by Stevie Ray Vaughan) remains one of Alligator's biggest-selling titles.
The Alligator catalog contains over 250 albums, ranging from electric Chicago blues and blues rock to acoustic Piedmont blues and West Coast jump blues. By the 1990s, Alligator was established one of the top contemporary blues labels in the world.
The Chicago magazine honored Iglauer with the 2002 Chicagoan of the Year award. In addition, Iglauer was a founder of the National Association of Independent Record Distributors (NAIRD, later the Association For Independent Music (AFIM). He sits on the Board of the Blues Foundation, the Blues Community Foundation and the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), which replaced AFIM as the main organization of the U.S. independent music industry.
Iglauer is married to Jo Kolanda of Mequon, Wisconsin. They have a daughter, Rachel Beaudry of Glencoe, Illinois, and he has a stepdaughter, Rebekah Beaudry of Mequon, Wisconsin.
- The Alligator story - History of the label at the Alligator site
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