Florence Greenberg

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Florence Greenberg
Born(1913-09-16)September 16, 1913
DiedNovember 2, 1995(1995-11-02) (aged 82)
Musical career
Years active1956–1976

Florence Greenberg (September 16, 1913 – November 2, 1995) was an American record label owner, music executive, and record producer. Greenberg was the founder and owner of Tiara Records, Scepter Records, Hob Records, and Wand Records. She is best known for her work as a record producer and music executive for several popular singers in the 1960s including Dionne Warwick, the Shirelles, Tammi Terrell, Chuck Jackson, and B.J. Thomas.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Greenberg lived as a housewife in Passaic, New Jersey.[2] In the mid-1950s, she was in her mid-40s with two children, Mary Jane and Stanley, who were both in school, so she had nothing to do at home during the day.

By 1956, a 43-year-old Greenberg was desperately searching for an escape from the suburban lifestyle that accompanied her being a housewife. She did not know what she wanted to do but could often be seen hanging out at the Turf restaurant in New York City as she was enamored with the atmosphere surrounding the Brill Building.[2] A friend of her husband, Freddy Bienstock, helped her to get in the record business by one day inviting her over to the Hill & Range Music offices when he was working with his cousins Jean and Julian Aberbach.[3] Greenberg was a natural and immediately began exploring her options of career paths in the music industry.

In 1958, she started her own record label, called Tiara Records. After a performance by a group of girls at Passaic High School in 1957, Greenberg's daughter Mary Jane convinced her that she had to hear the group sing.[1] She signed the group, The Shirelles, to Tiara after they auditioned for Greenberg in her living room.[4]

The first song recorded and released on the Tiara Records label was "I Met Him on a Sunday," The Shirelles' talent show song that grabbed the attention of Greenberg in the first place. Just as the record started to break locally, Greenberg sold the company with the Shirelles' contract to Decca Records for $4,000. However, she started a new label in 1959, called Scepter Records, which became one of the leading independent record labels in the 1960s. Under Scepter Records, Greenberg re-signed The Shirelles, becoming their manager once again.[5] In 1961, Greenberg launched another record label, called Wand Records, as a subsidiary of Scepter Records.

In 1963, the Shirelles learned that a trust, holding their royalties, that they allegedly were promised by Greenberg and Scepter, and supposed to receive on their 21st birthdays, did not exist. In response, they left the label, and later filed a breach of contract suit against the company.[6] Scepter met this with a countersuit for quitting; both suits were withdrawn in 1965, after an agreement was reached.[7]

Greenberg, who was not a musician, once said of herself that she was "a white woman who was in a black business and who couldn't carry a tune."[1] To address these shortcomings, she began her partnership with Luther Dixon.[2] After bringing Dixon into Scepter, Greenberg focused primarily on the business operations of the label, while Dixon managed Scepter's publishing and artistic production.[4] Around this same time, she moved her labels' offices to 1650 Broadway, a building that also housed Aldon Music (which employed Carole King and Gerry Goffin, among other songwriters) and which was close to the Brill Building's 1619 Broadway address.[8]

In 1965, Greenberg received an offer of $6 million for Scepter from Gulf+Western, an offer that she rejected and later regretted not accepting.[1] Greenberg retired from business in 1976, and sold all of her labels to Springboard International.[8]

Personal life and death[edit]

Greenberg was married to an accountant with whom she had two children, Mary Jane (Greenberg) Goff and Stanley Greenberg. At the time of her death, she was a grandmother to six and had five great-grandchildren.[1] Her son-in-law, Sam Goff, is a managing partner in Essex Entertainment.[3] She was Jewish.[9][10]

Greenberg died on November 2, 1995, of heart failure at Hackensack University Medical Center. She was 82 and lived in Teaneck, New Jersey.[1]


In 2011, a Broadway show based on Greenberg's life called Baby It's You! debuted starring Beth Leavel as Greenberg.[11] Prior to the show’s opening, a lawsuit was filed “seeking damages on behalf of performers Beverly Lee of The Shirelles, Dionne Warwick and Chuck Jackson, as well as the Estates of Doris Coley Jackson and Addie Harris Jackson, for the unauthorized use of their names and likenesses” against Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures.[12] The lawsuit was settled by Warner Bros. in December of 2011, three months after the show closed, and the case did not go to trial.[13]

Notable works[edit]

Greenberg's labels produced these songs:


  1. ^ a b c d e f Thomas, Robert, McG., Jr. "Florence Greenberg, 82, Pop-Record Producer", The New York Times, November 4, 1995. Accessed September 14, 2011. "Florence Greenberg, a one-time New Jersey housewife who parlayed an unlikely hit record by a teen-age group known as the Shirelles into an improbable career as the proprietor of a leading independent label of the 1960s, died on Thursday at the Hackensack University Medical Center. She was 82, and lived in Teaneck, N.J."
  2. ^ a b c Fletcher, Tony (2009). All Hopped Up and Ready To Go: Music from the Streets of New York 1927-77. W.W. Norton & Company.
  3. ^ a b Licthman, Irv (November 1995). "Florence Greenberg, 82, dies: Scepter head mentored R&B artists". Billboard.
  4. ^ a b Warwick, Jacqueline (2007). Girl Groups, Girl Culture. Routledge.
  5. ^ Emerson, Ken (2005). Always Magic In The Air: The Bomp and Brilliance of the Brill Building Era. Penguin Books.
  6. ^ "What's at Stake in the Shirelles' Lawsuit Against Warner Bros. Over Broadway's 'Baby It's You' | Hollywood Reporter". www.hollywoodreporter.com. 28 April 2011. Retrieved Dec 15, 2020.
  7. ^ "Warner Bros. Settles 'Baby It's You' Lawsuit | Hollywood Reporter". www.hollywoodreporter.com. 16 December 2011. Retrieved Dec 15, 2020.
  8. ^ a b Stratton, Jon (2009). "Jews Dreaming of Acceptance: From the Brill Building to Suburbia with Love". Shofar. 27 (2): 102–127. doi:10.1353/sho.0.0226. hdl:20.500.11937/30784. JSTOR 42944449. S2CID 144714024.
  9. ^ bat Pessi, Talia (September 6, 2011). ""Baby It's You!" deserved better reviews". Jewish Women's Archive.
  10. ^ Himes, Geoffrey (June 26, 1992). "Scepter Record' Independent Success". The Washington Post.
  11. ^ "A second chance for Florence Greenberg". northjersey.com. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
  12. ^ "Lawsuit Filed Against Broadway's Baby It's You on Behalf of Beverly Lee of The Shirelles, Dionne Warwick, and Others | TheaterMania". www.theatermania.com. 27 April 2011. Retrieved Dec 15, 2020.
  13. ^ Jones, Kenneth (December 19, 2011). "Baby It's You! Legal Dispute Settled". Playbill. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  14. ^ O'Brien, Lucy (2012). She Bop: The Definitive History of Women in Popular Music (3rd ed.). Jawbone Press.