Pioneer Rock and R&B Producer Art Rupe Passed Away At 104

Pioneer Rock and R&B Producer Art Rupe Passed Away At 104 | Society Of Rock Videos

via Urgent News / Youtube

Music executive Art Rupe, the founder of Specialty Records who helped pioneer R&B and early rock music with artists like Little Richard, Sam Cooke and Lloyd Price, has died April 15 at age 104.

Rupe passed away at his home in Santa Barbara, California. The news was confirmed by a statement from the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation, but the cause of death has not been disclosed.

Born Arthur N. Goldberg on September 5, 1917 to a working-class Jewish family in Pennsylvania. Rupe attended college at Virginia Tech and Miami University of Ohio. In 1939, he changed his surname to Rupe after moving to Los Angeles, upon learning from his grandfather that it was the family name before Goldberg was adopted at Ellis Island.

During World War II, Rupe worked on a naval engineering crew, but because of his passion for blues, gospel and R&B music that he heard growing up outside the Pittsburgh area, he formed Juke Box Records with partner Ben Siegert in 1944.

The label was responsible for a regional hit by the Sepia Tones, “Boogie #1,” and two years later, he founded his own label, Specialty Records. Specialty gave early breaks to artists such as Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Lloyd Price, Roy Milton, John Lee Hooker, Clifton Chenier and Percy Mayfield after its launch in Los Angeles in 1946.

The major success of the label arrived a few years later in the mid-’50s with the release of Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,” which was followed by multiple hit songs including “Good Golly, Miss Molly,” “Lucille” and “Long Tall Sally,” plus 1957 debut LP Here’s Little Richard.

Rupe was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 and received the Ahmet Ertegun Award the same year. He said:

“In all candor, I did not think ‘You Send Me’ was that great.

“I never dreamed it would be a multimillion-seller.”

By the early ’60s, Rupe started to move away from the music business and became an oil and gas entrepreneur. In 1990, he sold Specialty’s catalog to Fantasy Records, and in 1991, he established the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation in Santa Barbara, where he spent his final decades working on “positive social change by shining the light of truth on critical and controversial issues” while also supporting caregivers of people with dementia.

Don’t Miss Out! Sign up for the Latest Updates

Premium Partners

Society of Rock partner World War Wings
Society of Rock partner Daily Rock Box
Society of Rock partner Country Music Nation
Society of Rock partner Country Rebel
Society of Rock partner I Love Classic Rock
Society of Rock partner Rock Pasta

Interested in becoming a partner?

Contact us for more info.