Monday, September 27, 2010

Labelobit: Dick Griffey

The founder of Solar Records, Dick Griffey, has died.

Griffey had eeny-meeny-miney-moed his way into nightclub owner over medicine as a career and had quickly established an eye for talent. By the turn of the 1970s, he was booking world tours for stars of Stevie Wonder's pedigree, and it was his ear and contacts book which lead to him becoming talent booker on Soul Train.

Unencumbered by ITA-style conflict of interest worries, Soul Train spawned its own label. The imaginatively-titled Soul Train Records had some successes, most notably early Shalamar, but folded in 1977. Having helped create the label, Griffey took the leftovers and used them to found Solar (Sounds Of Los Angeles Records). Coming at the start of a mythical golden Soul-Disco age, the timing was right. Before eventually winding up as part of an EMI firesale which would see catalogue sold to Unidisc, Solar would provide a home for Shalamar, Midnight Star, Klymaxx and even the first recording featuring Snoop Doggy Dogg. It also turned out LA Reid, whose journey from musician to besuited industry paragon is a story all of its own.

Solar also counted amongst its rosta Carrie Lewis. Arguably, she was the main artist on the label; inarguably, she was the only one married to Griffey.

Dick Griffey died from complications following a multiple bypass. He was 66.