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George Goldner (February 9, 1918 – April 15, 1970) was an American record label owner and promoter. Although Goldner could not read music, he had a significant role in the production of most recordings on his labels. He would advise the arrangers and the session people what should go into the tape, onto the groove. He worked, amongst others, with The Crows, The Flamingos, The Cleftones, Bill Haley & His Comets, Ral Donner, Jo-Ann Campbell, Johnny Rivers, The Shangri-Las, The Teenagers, The Chantels, Little Richard and Lou Christie. Goldner was married 3 times and had 7 children.
George Goldner was born February 9, 1918, in a Jewish household to a mother Rose originally from Poland and father Adolph from Austria. He and his sisters Sophie and Stella grew up in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of the east side of New York City. As a young man George attended Peter Stuyvesant High School. But his eyes were on making money. While still in school he worked weekends as a waiter at the then famous Shelton Hotel where his father also worked while also acquiring furnished brownstones. Charming, handsome George was popular at the Shelton.
His first wife was not Latin. His first wife Ruth was my mother. His second wife was Latin
The Likely Founder Of ROCK AND ROLL
Goldner recorded some of the most important, influential music of the 1950s, including what many consider the first rock & roll record Gee (1954) by The Crows),Rama), (or tied for first with Bill Haley & His Comets Crazy Man Crazy)as well as other seminal recordings by The Wrens and The Valentines (for Rama), The Cleftones, The Five Crowns, Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers and The Heartbeats (for Gee), The Chantels, Little Anthony & The Imperials, The Starlighters, and The Flamingos(for End) and The Dubs, The Channels, The Isley Brothers and The Trickles (for Gone). In addition to the above artists, he also signed and recorded Smokey Robinson and The Four Seasons
Goldner's Ear For Music
Goldner had an ear for rock & roll music. Jerry Lieber said George Goldner had the taste of a fourteen year old girl. As far as sales and promotion, Geoorge was a master. This served him well in the music business. He could time after time pick a future hit record. Payola likely was not necessary for the succcess of almost all of his records: they could invariably stand on their own.
In promoting his records, he sometimes gave gratuities, paid DJs at radio stations, to give consideration to his companies' records. This practice was widespread, George Goldner was not the first the only nor the last record executive to utilize it. This came to be known as payola. Most of Goldner's records stood on their own and were so good any payola was unnecessary for theier airplay.
In a recurring pattern, Goldner's gambling habit led to him selling part or all of his record company to Morris Levy, another dance hall owner. Goldner and Levy formed Rama Records, which recorded rhythm and blues. The Crows' hit "Gee" on Rama inspired another record label, Gee Records, whose most successful act was Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers. Other labels Goldner helped establish included Gone Records, End Records, Gold Disc, Mark-X and the longest lasting of his labels, Roulette Records. All of these labels would wind up under Morris Levy's ownership to cover Goldner's gambling debts.
Red Bird Records
Goldner's last successful label, Red Bird Records and its Blue Cat Records subsidiary were actually co-founded by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Goldner was made a partner in the company and did the promoting of Red Bird releases, while Leiber and Stoller worked on production. Red Bird only lasted two years, as Leiber and Stoller wanted to get out of the record business, and Goldner again developed gambling debts which again led to Morris Levy and his Mob connections. After an abortive attempt to merge Red Bird with Atlantic Records, Leiber and Stoller sold their interest in Red Bird Records to Goldner in 1966 for $1, by which time Goldner's uncontrollable gambling habit had placed the label under the control of the Mafia The Red Bird catalogue (except for releases by The Shangri-Las whose contract was sold to Mercury Records) was sold to Morris Levy's Roulette Records.
A musical based on the life of Goldner and featuring music from his record labels premiered in Hollywood in 2012 titled "The Boy From New York City."
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