Black History Month Spotlight: Record Store Owner and Label Founder John Dolphin

Every weekday this month, we’re profiling fascinating figures from L.A.’s Black history
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For a running list of all our 2021 Black History Month profiles, click here.


Originally from Oklahoma, John Dolphin (1902-1958), nicknamed “Lovin’ John,” was a pioneering producer, music label founder, and owner of the legendary South Los Angeles 24-hour record store Dolphin’s of Hollywood. A major creative hub in the early days of rock ‘n’ roll and R&B, Dolphin’s radio show would introduce hits, including the Penguins’ “Earth Angel,” to fans across the country. He also promoted the music of Sam Cooke, Charles Mingus, and many other new Black artists. Dolphin was active in the civil rights movement, organizing Black business owners against police intimidation and racism.

Tragically, he was murdered in his office in 1958 by a disgruntled musician, but the music he helped create lives on.


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