Frampton, Others Pay Tribute To King Records

By LISA CORNWELL, Associated Press Writer

COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) - British guitarist Peter Frampton hopes the release of a compact disc that pays tribute to Cincinnati's legendary King Records will help his adopted city overcome racial division.

"King Records was all about diversity and inclusion, and I wanted to be part of something that might help bring people together in Cincinnati and hopefully the country and the world," said Frampton (pictured, above) at the CD's release party Tuesday night at the Madison Theatre across the river from Cincinnati.

"Cincinnati needs to feel good about itself after the problems of the past year or so," he said.

Frampton, who moved to Cincinnati more than a year ago, was referring to the riots and economic boycott sparked by a white police officer's fatal shooting of a fleeing, unarmed black man in April 2001. Several entertainers have honored the boycott by canceling Cincinnati appearances.

"I don't agree with that," said Frampton. "Music can cross all lines, and I think the artists who stayed away could have done more to help by coming and trying to bring the city together."

Frampton, who gained fame in the 1970s, was one of more than 20 Cincinnati musicians who perform on the new "Hidden Treasures" CD that recreates songs from the King Records catalog.

King Records, an independent record company founded in Cincinnati in 1943 by Syd Nathan, produced a diverse musical catalog that blended bluegrass, country music, blues and R&B in a conscious mix of black and white music that would became a blueprint for rock 'n' roll.

Artists who recorded on the King Records label included James Brown, the Stanley Brothers and Little Willie John. Nathan, who died in 1968, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

Frampton's contribution to the new CD produced by Cincinnati's J-Curve Records was the blues standard "Hide Away." King Records drummer Philip Paul who was a part of more than 350 of the label's hits performed in Freddie King's 1960 hit version of "Hide Away" and in Frampton's version.

"I was honored to play with both of them," Paul said Tuesday night. "There was an electricity both times, and that's what good music is all about."

Paul said recognition for the contributions of Syd Nathan and King Records is long overdue.

"Syd Nathan did so much to break down the musical stereotypes," said Paul. "He offered so many different types of music and employed musicians from different races and cultures. He truly believed that ability has no race or color."

Terry Stewart, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, said the contribution of King Records to the music world must not be forgotten.

"King Records did so much to establish the heritage of music that led to rock 'n' roll," said Stewart, who received the first printed CD Tuesday night for display at the Rock Hall. "The music coming from King Records was the music that Alan Freed was playing in Cleveland in the early 1950s."

Freed was the legendary disc jockey who popularized the term "rock 'n' roll.

Proceeds from the 17-track CD will go to benefit Inclusion Network Inc. The private, nonprofit organization works to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities into the workplace and society.

Frampton and Funk artist Bootsy Collins took to the stage during the party to help auction off a Frampton Signature Les Paul Guitar signed by all the CD's artists. The guitar brought $7,500 for the network.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)