|Parent company||ABS Entertainment Inc.|
|Founder||Ray Harris, Joe Cuoghi, Bill Cantrell, Quinton Claunch|
|Distributor(s)||Fat Possum Records (In the US, Canada, Australia)
Crimson Productions (in the UK)
|Genre||Rockabilly, soul music|
|Country of origin||US|
Hi Records was a Memphis soul and rockabilly label started in 1957 by singer Ray Harris, record store owner Joe Cuoghi, Bill Cantrell and Quinton Claunch (formerly producers for Sun Records), and three silent partners, including Cuoghi's lawyer, Nick Pesce.
Hi Records' first big hit was "Smokie Part 2", an instrumental by The Bill Black Combo in 1959. Black was a bass player with Elvis Presley and a long-time friend of Ray Harris. Founder Claunch was forced out of the label, selling his share in 1960 to Carl McVoy (Jerry Lee Lewis' cousin), who had been involved with label since its first recording and worked with Bill Black. Willie Mitchell joined the label that year as a recording artist. He later went on to produce Al Green in 1968. Bill Black's saxophonist, Ace Cannon, landed a hit with the single "Tuff" in 1961.
Hi Records' commercial peak was in the 1960s and 1970s, widely due to the innovative and highly successful work of Al Green. Other artists on the label, including O. V. Wright and Ann Peebles, did not reach the same level of success. In 1970, when founder Joe Cuoghi died and Ray Harris retired, Nick Pesce became president and Willie Mitchell was made vice-president.
The label's music was mostly recorded at Willie Mitchell's Royal Studios, located in a renovated movie theater in South Memphis. The label was distributed nationally by London Records. The label used a house backing band of local session musicians, known as the Hi Rhythm Section, on its numerous hit recordings of the 1970s. The popularity of disco music in the late 1970s led to an eventual decline in the popularity of the label's Memphis soul style.
Licensed distribution is by Crimson Productions in Europe; EMI licensed the catalog in Canada and the United States until 2009 when Fat Possum Records began distributing for the United States, Canada and Australia. Before EMI, Motown Records distributed Hi's back catalog in the 1980s to the mid-1990s, although it was mostly Green's albums and Mitchell's albums.
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