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Steeltown Records was an American record company in Gary, Indiana. The company was founded in 1966 by William Adams (a.k.a. Gordon Keith) and co-owned with Ben Brown (deceased), Maurice Rogers, Willie Spencer (deceased), and Lou "Ludie" D. Washington (deceased).[a] The record company was mostly active from 1966 to 1972. "Steeltown" is best known for giving the Jackson 5 their start in the music industry. The Jackson 5's first record was released on the Steeltown label in early 1968, before Motown signed the group in 1969.
Two Jackson 5 singles were recorded for Steeltown at a South Chicago recording studio in 1967, "Big Boy"/"You Changed" and "We Don't Have To Be Over 21 (to Fall in Love)"/"Jam Session".[b] "Big Boy", Michael Jackson's first song, was released on January 31, 1968 by Gordon Keith, who was the manager and producer of the Jackson Five and their songs.[c] "Big Boy" was played on Chicago-Gary area radio stations and became a local hit.[d] The following March, Keith signed a contract with Atlantic Records to manufacture and distribute the "Big Boy"/"You Changed" record nationally. Atco Records, a division of Atlantic Records in New York City, distributed several thousand Steeltown copies with the "Atlantic-Atco" record sleeve. Many of these vinyl records (45 rpm) are still in existence, as are some of the first "Big Boy" singles distributed in Gary by Steeltown. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum owns one of the original Steeltown "Big Boy"/"You Changed" records (#681), and this single was on display there in 2010.
The Jacksons moved to Los Angeles, California in 1969. After Ben Brown moved there in 1985, he partnered with Joe Jackson the father of The Jackson 5, and became the president of Jackson Records. In January 2015, Brown's son Dwayne Joseph Brown and his son's business partner, Alicia Barber (songwriter and author whom wrote "Born Rejected"), came together to launch SteelTown Los Angeles. A SteelTown movie is in the works which is set to be released in 2023.
- Keith put the company together and was the first president, and the secretary of Steeltown Records.
- Keith recorded the songs at Sunny Sawyer's Recording Studio.
- Steeltown owners individually discovered, signed, recorded, and took the responsibility and any profit for each signed individual or group using the Steeltown label as an umbrella to promote name recognition.
- "Big Boy" (written in Chicago by Eddie Silvers) was first broadcast from WWCA-AM 1270 radio in Gary.
- Taraborrelli, J. Randy (2004). The Magic and the Madness. Terra Alta, WV: Headline. ISBN 0-330-42005-4.
- Neely, Tim (2000). Goldmine Standard Catalog of American Records 1950-1975 2nd Ed. Iola, WI: Krause. ISBN 0-87341-934-0.
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- "Steeltown Records - Indiana Local Labels". 45rpmrecords.com. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
- Taraborrelli, p. 36–37
- "Early Jackson Five". Classicurbanharmony.net. 2010-01-13. Archived from the original on 2015-10-18. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
- "The Jackson 5 - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
- "Big Boy 40 Jackson 5". Jackson5abc.com. Retrieved 7 June 2016.